When you haven’t got much to offer
Without a pot to piss in. Usually referring to someone with no resources. Disdainfully used for folks with big plans but no money.
It’s your dime. A reference to the fact that public telephones used to cost a dime for local calls. By telling someone “it’s your dime” you are saying you’re the one who called me so get on with it and say whatever it was you wanted to say. If you were busy when the phone rang and when you answered you were greeted to a few minutes of idle chatter, you might inject this comment into the first couple seconds of available silence.
Further elaboration on the use of shit
Shit-eating grin (the g is eating is silent). A slightly goofy smile connotating happiness over something that one possibly should not be doing. If you had a quick one with a co-worker in an office bathroom stall you might emerge from the experience with a shit-eating grin on your face. Not to be confused with shit faced, another in the extensive genre of shit expressions. Shit faced means drunk.
Doesn’t know shit from shinola. Knows nothing. Usually used in reference to someone who is pontificating about something which they have no knowledge of. Shinola was a brand of shoe polish, something that was available in multiple shades of brown, hence the potential for confusion.
Monikers of ordinariness
Ham and egger. Ordinary but useful. Often used in baseball to describe a scrappy player who is generally not a big talent but gets by on effort. A ham and egger might be a second baseman who fields every ball hit to him but never makes any spectacular plays. At the plate he gets one or two singles a game.
Five and dimer. Cheap, penny-pincher, petty. Not to be confused with five and dime which was a cheap store. The five and dime was a small discount department store that was a staple of all downtown shopping areas in the pre-Walmart era. Woolworth’s is an example.
Brown bagger. Refers to the type of office workers who would bring their lunch to work in a brown bag. Not the guy who drives the business. Could be expected to beat it out the door when the clock strikes 5. Someone who sold tickets at a train station was likely a brown bagger. Not used for workers who did any kind of manual labor as these folks needed more substantial lunch containers that would hold up on the job site until the noontime whistle blew.
Loud and unwelcome
Ripped him a new asshole. Theoretically it could be ripped him or her a new asshole. Basically means to severely reprimand.
Let go of my ears, I know my business. A reference to oral sex. Term was used by men but I doubt it was ever used when actually in that situation. Rather it was a caustic yet comic way to fend off unwanted supervision.
Blowing smoke out your ass. Used to describe someone who is complaining, scolding or reprimanding in a loud, obnoxious way. You may have heard the recent story about a Korean air exec who threw a temper tantrum on one of their flights because a flight attendant didn’t serve the bag of nuts properly. I suspect if my dad was on that plane he might have described her as “blowing smoke out her ass.”
Devices we used
Icebox. This is how my maternal grandmother referred to the large kitchen device that she used to keep food cold. My paternal grandmother called it a Frigidaire after the brand name of an early maker. My parents, being the modern people they were, substituted the term “fridge.”
The can. Any bathroom’s primary device. Most likely uttered solely in the company of men.
On the horn. Talking on the telephone. The name horn likely originated from someone who lived with a loudly ringing phone and who found it annoying and disruptive.
Rabbit ears. The set top antenna used for the tube (TV) before cable or streaming. Folks who weren’t up to climbing on the roof and installing something more substantial, used these.
Church key. Beer bottle opener