Commentary: Really dumb? Oh, we got a treasured Southern phrase for that

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at

My Southern family had many treasured sayings for different situations. I always felt these wise adages cut to the heart of the matter without lengthy explanations or flowery language. The simple truth, if you will.  

One such saying has come to mind many times over the years and especially of late, when reading the news. Don’t worry, I am not going to get into any political discussions. That, sadly, has become too much of a minefield with little civil discourse and rampant hostility (or as my mother would say, “being ugly”). 

The stories that have caught my attention involve folks doing what is considered very questionable in the rational thinking department. Or as my family would say about people demonstrating a lack of basic understanding: “They just don’t have a lick of sense.” 

Recently, a man was caught on social media hanging on top of a car on Interstate 40 with his girlfriend driving 70 mph from Mt Juliet to Nashville. All this was done not only willingly by him but also apparently at his exuberant direction.  

I imagine he was shouting some variation of “Hey, y’all, watch this” as his girlfriend proudly watched. I actually don’t know what they were thinking (doubt thinking is something they spend much time on.) Eventually, they were charged with reckless driving after their antics made the rounds on social media sites. As I watched their questionable stunt, my immediate thought was as you would guess: “They do not have a lick of sense.” And it even warranted a further statement of “not one lick” for special emphasis. 

Police in Loretto, Tennessee, went a little overboard in their description of the risks of flushing crystal methamphetamine down the toilet.  

Dangerous stuff no doubt, and I am a firm supporter of our law enforcement personnel — they do a dangerous job with little thanks — but you have to wonder what they were thinking. They not only pondered what meth-addled ducks and geese might do but expressed concern that the drugs could float down to the Tennessee River and create “meth-gators.”   

If you thought regular gators were mean, just imagine them on drugs! The mayor of the town and the police department now say it was a joke. Let’s hope so. (Yes, there are reports from wildlife officials that some gators have supposedly come this far north. Guess they are getting sick of retirement in Florida. We will discuss gators in Tennessee and other things that are all “cattywampus” in a future column.) 

And not to leave out our friends from up North, a woman was recently caught on video climbing into the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. With only a small moat separating them, she proceeded to dance and wave at a perplexed lion. After watching the video, made by an onlooker not involved in the stunt, the lion appeared to have a she-does-not-have-a-lick-of-sense look on his face. (This was followed by a her-porch-light-has-been-shot-out gaze.) She continued to taunt the lion and then left unharmed. Police are searching for the woman for a trespassing charge and for being a really bad dancer. 

There have been many other stories concerning the same subject. I could go on “till the cows come home,” but I gotta run. Happy fall, y’all! 

Jean Simmons is a former nurse, published author, Nashville native and Franklin resident. She can be reached at


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