I couldn't find a varmint. I found 3 critters and a rascal.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by novinka1, May 4, 2013.

  1. novinka1 Senior Member

    Hi, this quote is from "Raising Hope".
    Virginia says to Maw Maw: "Maw Maw, why don't you go in the backyard and see if you can get us a varmint for dinner".
    After some time Maw Maw comes back with a sack with something moving inside and says: "I couldn't find a varmint. But I found three critters and a rascal".

    I don't quite understand it.

    Before they read a recipe for Maw Maw's pasta sauce: "Fill your dress full of the neighbor's tomatoes, add five bottles of homemade red wine-- drinking as you go-- finish off with a fistful of
    garlic and three pounds of ground varmint." Maybe this will help...

    Thanks :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2013
  2. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    The joke is that "varmint," "critter," and "rascal" all mean the same thing - and it's this:
    The joke is A) that the recipe calls for "some kind of vermin" as its meat - it could be rat, or squirrel, or opossum, or cat... and B) that Maw Maw says "I didn't find one​ animal... I found four!"
  3. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    Her including a 'rascal' among the sources of meat makes me slightly uneasy.

    I would expect a rascal to be a human being, though it might also be an animal who is mischievous in a manner associated with humans. I would expect a varmint to be an animal of the sort lucas_sp describes, or a human being who is being likened disparagingly to an animal.
  4. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I think that for the joke to work, we have to presume that the participants are massively stupid, ie. that they are not even up to the job of intercepting gradations of meaning within their own idiolect.
  5. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    The joke is that while to us "critter" and "varmint" are interchangeable, to Maw Maw they are specific terms used for different animals - ie, "I didn't find a possum but I found four coons."
  6. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    What about the 'rascal'? A full explanation of the joke must surely account for its presence.
  7. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    To me, the "rascal" is synonymous with the "varmints" and "critters." I don't have any problem with an animal being called a "rascal," particularly in a hillbilly dialect. To me, small animals (both domesticated and undomesticated) can be "rascals."
  8. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    So for you, rascal pie, would be 'naughty, but otherwise unspecified animal pie'.
  9. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    "Rascal pie" would just be "unspecified small animal pie" - the same as "critter pie."

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