Deriber geyen di gendz borves un di katshkes in royte shikhelekh.
You’re on the proverbial edge of your proverbial seat, aren’t you? “How the heck is she going to explain this one?!” you ask yourself. Well, sit back, relax, and prepare to be disappointed. OK, disappointed may be a little strong, but I’ll tell you upfront, you’re out of luck if you’re hoping for an action-packed explanation the likes of:
Well! This expression can be traced all the way back to Mount Sinai. You see, Moses’ bursitis was acting up that morning so he decided to send his trusty goose-proxy to present the Ten Commandments in his place. (Few people know this but, the Burning Bush? That was actually glimpsed by Gary the goose on his way home from his gaggle’s weekly poker game. Although he later relayed the incident to our man Mo’, that kind of hearsay would never stand up these days!) After Gary prepared the tablets, Moses’ right-hand goose glanced out the window just in time to see the last strands of his sandals being gobbled up by the gluttonous neighborhood goat. Gary alerted Moses immediately, but, since the 7/11 Decree dates back to Biblical times (Genesis 3:7-11: Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Then the Lord G-d said unto them, “Keepeth going, from this day forth; no shoes, no shirt, no service.”) and there was no time to fit Gary for new shoes (he wore a 13 and had arch issues), Moses was forced to send J. Edgar (a local duck with a thing for crimson pumps) to the mount instead.
The very point of this expression is that it has no point. In fact, just in case there does exist a context in which this phrase could possibly be relevant, we Jews keep the following pinch hitter in our back pocket:
Original Yiddish Saying
“Deriber geyen katshkes borves un gendz on pludern.”
“Therefore ducks go barefoot and geese without trousers.”
Both of these irrational interjections can be used in one of two ways:
- As a nonsensical interpretation of something that is painfully obvious and doesn’t need interpretation at all.
- As a sarcastic response to an illogical statement.
Come to think of it, the above shamefully-sacrilegious scene featuring Moses-and-his-Anatidae-attendants serves as the perfect setup for this second scenario! An irreverent invention that inane—one invoking our paramount prophet and a couple of anthropomorphized avians—is simply ripe for this sarcastic saying.
Helen is on the phone with her cousin Merna in Arizona. For what feels like the 50th time, Helen is going over the contents of her suitcase in anticipation of visiting Merna and her husband this coming August. ...
Helen: “So Mern, I’ve got my Harlequin romances, my puzzles, the photos from my cruise, my good brassiere ... what else? Oh, that article on calcium I wanted you to read, my exercise clothes. ... Oh now, Mern, you’re sure I’m not going to need my winter coat? I don’t know why you won’t let me bring it just in case.”
Merna: “You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s Arizona in August! Therefore the geese go barefoot and the ducks in little red shoes!”
Helen: “Alright, alright! I’m just asking!”