Did you ever wonder how an idiom comes into being?
I’m fixing to tell you.
I’ve always said that the fashionable, popular thing was “all the rage in Natchez.” I said it because Mama always said it. And Granny always said it.
And I never gave much thought to why Natchez. With all due respect to Mississippi, I just figured it got tacked on to the end of the saying “all the rage” because it was sounded funny. Sort of like “Remlap,” some words are just fun to say, but “all the rage in Remlap” doesn’t seem to have the same flow.
Mini skirts. Maxi dresses. Scented candles. Craft cocktails. Stacking rings. 30A. Spanx. Brussel sprouts. Rain boots. SUVs. Electric cars. Labradoodles. Knitting. Whatever the fad is — all the rage in Natchez.
“Why do you say that all the time?” a friend asked me one day.
“It’s a thing,” I said. “Like saying something is ‘the living end.’”
“It’s not a thing,” my friend said. “It’s your thing.”
That’s when I called my Mama.
“So you know how you say such-and-such is ‘all the rage in Natchez?’” I asked. “That’s a thing, right?”
“Well, no!” she said, “No one says that but Granny and me.”
When she quit laughing, Mama went on to tell me how “all the rage in Natchez” came to be. Sometime in the 60s, Granny had traveled with the Citronelle Garden Club to Natchez, Mississippi, to visit with the nice ladies of the Natchez Garden Club. They spent several days touring historic homes and gardens and talking horticulture over nice lady-lunches.
When Granny came home, she told Mama about all the historic homes and gardens she’d seen. They talked about horticulture and what the Mississippi ladies were growing in their gardens. And they talked about the nice lady-luncheons.
“Everywhere we went, at every meal, they served us a dish with baby carrots in it,” Granny told Mama. “Baby carrots are all the rage in Natchez.”
After that, everything that was popular, but used in excess, became “all the rage in Natchez” to Mama and Granny. An inside joke between a mother and daughter overheard by a little girl who didn’t get it. And just like that, an idiom was born.