A hog on ice / Un cerdo en el hielo

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

MY FRIEND SUSAN’S HUSBAND, DARELL, whom I never met, was originally from South Dakota. From everything Susan has told me about him, he was an exceptional human being, quick witted, with a heart of gold, and he worshipped the ground she walked on. Susan is also an exceptional human being, with a heart of gold and a rapier sharp wit. And I can understand why he worshipped the ground she walked on.

Susan recently told me Darell would often say she was “as independent as a hog on ice.” She never heard the expression from anyone other than him and never bothered to look it up, thinking it made no sense. I said it sounded very South Dakota and, although I’ve never heard San Geraldo use the phrase, I’d ask him if he was familiar with it. I commented that, even if San Geraldo was familiar with it, he probably had it wrong and would say something like “as dependent as a pig on ice skates.”

Meanwhile, Susan finally looked it up. I asked San Geraldo and he said he had never heard the expression. I then told him Susan had discovered “it came from that sport…” and then I drew a blank… “You know, the one with the rocks? On ice?” He was blank. “You know, the Olympic sport with the rock and the brooms.” “Curling?” “That’s it!”

“We didn’t have curling in South Dakota,” he explained.

“I know. I just initially thought it was a South Dakota expression. The image of hogs on a frozen…”

“Our hogs weren’t let out to run on the ice,” he interrupted.

Oh, never mind.

Anyway, the phrase was used to describe the movement of the stones on the ice in curling and describes someone who is “unable to be controlled.” Is it new to you, too? Does it remind you of anyone you know?


DARELL, EL MARIDO DE MI AMIGA SUSAN, a quien nunca conocí, era originario de Dakota del Sur. Por todo lo que Susan me ha contado sobre él, él era una persona excepcional, ingenioso, con un corazón de oro, y adoraba el suelo por el que ella caminaba. Susan también es un ser humano excepcional, con un corazón de oro y un agudo ingenio. Y puedo entender por qué adoraba el suelo por el que ella caminaba.

Recientemente me dijo que Darell solía decir que ella era “tan independiente como un cerdo en el hielo”. Ella nunca escuchó la expresión de nadie más que él y nunca se molestó en buscarla, pensando que no tenía sentido. Dije que sonaba muy de Dakota del Sur y, aunque nunca había escuchado a San Geraldo usar la frase, le preguntaría si estaba familiarizado con ella. Comenté que, aunque San Geraldo lo conocía, probablemente se equivocó y diría algo como “tan dependiente como un cerdo en patines de hielo”.

Mientras tanto, Susan finalmente lo buscó. Le pregunté a San Geraldo y me dijo que nunca había escuchado la expresión. Entonces le dije que Susan había descubierto “venía de ese deporte …” y luego me quedé en blanco … “¿Sabes, el de las rocas? ¿Sobre hielo?” Estaba en blanco. “Sabes, el deporte olímpico con la piedra y las escobas”. “¿Curling?” “¡Eso es!

“No teníamos curling en Dakota del Sur”, explicó.

“Sé. Al principio pensé que era una expresión de Dakota del Sur. La imagen de los cerdos en un congelado …

Nuestros cerdos no se dejaron correr en el hielo”, explicó además.

Oh, no importa.

De todos modos, la frase se usó para describir el movimiento de las piedras en el hielo en el deporte del curling y describe a alguien que es “incapaz de ser controlado”. ¿También es nuevo para ti? ¿Te recuerda a alguien que conoces?

• 1982. The Kid Brother, San Geraldo, two hogs, no ice. A visit to Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, with my parents. The Kid Brother was holding his breath. San Geraldo insisted on petting the hogs and then we wouldn’t let him near us until he washed his hands. He was in hog heaven, happier than a pig in shit, and as independent as a hog on ice.
• 1982. El Hermanito, San Geraldo, dos cerdos, sin hielo. Una visita a Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, con mis padres. El Hermanito contenía la respiración. San Geraldo insistió en acariciar a los cerdos y luego no lo dejábamos acercarse hasta que se lavara las manos. Estaba en “el paraíso de los cerdos”, “más feliz que un cerdo en la mierda” y “tan independiente como un cerdo en el hielo”.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

32 thoughts on “A hog on ice / Un cerdo en el hielo”

    1. wickedhamster:
      SG left South Dakota in the late 60s and it wasn’t a sport he was aware of at that time. There are a huge number of Scandinavians in South Dakota, too. Yah, you betcha.

  1. The stones are very easily moved, knocked from their place. I would see this as saying a person is not very independent, but easily moved from their position. A person with little support structure to hold them in place. That would be my LSAT answer.

    1. David:
      I should have included some of the descriptions I found online. The expression is described as someone who is independent, ungovernable , and unable to be controlled. That sounds a lot more descriptive.

  2. I have heard of a ‘hog’ in curling/we have a very active curling community here and in the rest of Canada as well. But, never heard that expression. It does make sense……..so many factors involved with the intended direction of that stone/hog.
    We are very proud of a local gal who has done really well in curling over the years…….https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colleen_Jones

    1. Jim:
      I’ve tried a bit but just haven’t developed an appreciation for the sport of curling. It’s hard for me to not laugh when I watch it. to be fair, golf also does nothing for me.

  3. Yes, I have heard the expression before, but I never knew it referred to curling. But you know, on the sheet of curling ice, there is also a “hog line” that your stones must cross in order to be counted for points. If your throw doesn’t even make the hog line, you’re a disgrace, LOL!

      1. I wouldn’t put ANYTHING past those crazy Scots. But now that I think of it, the Scottish term for New Years is “Hogmanay,” so maybe “hog” has some gaelic significance that is reflected in its curling usage as well.

      2. Debra:
        You really got me thinking. Look what I found! “According to Scots curlers, the term [“hog-line”] is derived from Scottish agriculture. In a country where so many sheep were raised, a lamb in its first year of life was called “a hog.” In time, the name came to represent a straggler, a weakling, the one most likely to fall prey to predators, or to be culled from the flock. Similarly, a stone that could barely make it into the playing area was called a hog, and was therefore culled from the rest.”

  4. The photo of KB and SG reminds me of visiting my ex’s aunt’s large pig farm in western Minnesota. The sows weighed over 500 lbs. They had to be watched carefully to ensure they didn’t crush their piglets when they rolled over. But yeah, the stench was hard to take. I’m with KB. Hold your breath and get out.

    Lived in MN for a while but can’t say I ever heard the term you mentioned (though it could probably be applied to me). Used to play broom hockey in MN, but never tried curling. Gotta say, skating on a frozen pond/lake is nothing like skating in a rink. Much tripping and falling over uneven surfaces. Ja. You betcha. Uff dah.

    1. Mary:
      My first and only visit to a pig farm was in Minnesota the first time I met SG’s family!

  5. All this talk of hogs and ice and I am just feeling SG’s indignation at the hogs not being allowed on the ice.

    1. Bob:
      He actually said it wasn’t the “Christian thing to do.” I know for certain it wasn’t the Jewish thing to do

  6. Oh I love Curling ! Reminds me of Lawn Bowling ( Laguna Beach had a beautiful court in the park with an ocean view ) and Bocce Ball. So much fun.

    1. Parsnip:
      So sorry. Curling and lawn bowling have never done much for me. Although the Laguna Beach ocean view might help.

  7. The phrase is new to me. I’ve known (and envied) plenty of independent people but I can’t say they were hogs…or professional curler players, assuming there are such people.

    1. Kirk:
      I think the expression limits our grasp of the real meaning. “As out of control as a pig on ice” might work better.

  8. I love these sort of things.
    Most of them are family-based, not said outside a small group.
    Grammar Girl on her podcast regularly had people call in with their idioms and made-up words.

    1. Urspo:
      This one clearly is more than family based. My cousin pointed out Tom Waits even included it in a song called Cemetery Polka. “Uncle Vernon. Uncle Vernon. Independent as a hog on ice.” Can’t believe I had never heard the phrase before.

    1. wickedhamster:
      It would be a lot more interesting although it wouldn’t be very kind to the hogs… unless they enjoyed it.

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