One blog ago, I cited “headin’ out yonder,” as a euphemism for “going to the bathroom.” My friend Lorraine reminded me that another old Yankee euphemism for “using the powder room” is “going to the hopper.”
We also call the compactor at the dump “the hopper,” which makes sense — a hopper is a receptacle for something you want to get rid of.
Another old New England saying is “sprinkle the lilies.” Day lilies like to grow near outhouses. Hence the connection.
My friend Dana added these to the collection: "drop the kids off at the pool," "take the Browns to the Superbowl," "give birth," and her favorite; "release the Kraken." These are all new to me. Dana’s not from around here. I suspect these expressions are from her native New Jersey.
And here is another one: "I've got to see a man about a horse."
But getting back to the hopper... here’s an old story of mine with a hopper front and center.
Where Selectmen Belong
One of the selectmen, who was rumored to have a drinking problem, showed up at the dump unsteady on his feet. Maybe it was mouthwash that made his breath tangy. Or maybe he had one of those inner ear infections that upset his balance. Any of these reasons could have made him unsteady. You hear different things.
Anyway, this selectman was heaving a heavy bag into the compactor. Kermit, the dump master, calls it the crusher because when a bunch of bags get piled up, he pulls a lever and the steel slabs inside the compactor come together. Everything gets squished.
I was telling this story at the Linwood Senior Center, which serves the towns of Lincoln and Woodstock in the North Country, where technology is not as advanced as in other parts of New Hampshire. When I said the part about the compactor and how it worked, one lady got very excited. “I've seen it!” she said, “in Rumney!”
Anyway, back to the story. This selectman was swinging this heavy bag like a pendulum, and when he worked up the big swing to toss it, evidently he forgot to let go. He and the bag sailed over the railing, and down they went.
Luckily, the crusher was near full at the time so there was plenty to break his fall. There he lay, spread-eagled. His eyes were open but he didn’t say anything. The bags puffed up around him. The customers gathered around, wondering how to get the selectman out of the crusher.
Kermit emerged from his little dump master cottage, walked up to the rail, and looked down, placing his fists on his hips: “What the hell are you doing down there?” he said. “Get out of there! Selectmen don’t belong in the crusher. They belong over in compost.”