Funny Things from Yesterday: It scared his mule

Robert N. Tidwell, Sr.

If you have ever heard the expression, “It scared my mule,” you probably wondered where it came from and what it means. I have a theory on this expression.

The expression probably started when people used a horse or a mule and buggy for transportation. If a dog ran out and barked or tried to bite the mule this would scare the mule and it would try to run away. If the mule did run, it could break up the buggy and hurt the driver, or worse.

Once this happened to somebody and they were talking about what happened they probably said, “It scared my mule.”

As we advanced from the mule and buggy era, the expression must have stayed with us. As it is used today, someone will say, “It scared my mule,” meaning that they were personally scared. That old expression has stuck with me.

One time we had a break-in at our truck shop, and my Daddy had a little paranoia after that. Each morning when he got to work, he would look things over to see if there were any changes or signs of a break-in.

One morning, Daddy went in to work a little before the rest of us and he was turning on the lights and opening the doors. Just as he walked in the shop door a tire blew out on one of the trucks. You can imagine the excitement that flashed through my Daddy’s mind. He first thought that someone had shot him, but he couldn’t find any bullet holes in his hide. He then thought it must have been a dynamite explosion, but he didn’t see any damages. Then he found the tire that had blown out.

Later in the day, I asked the mechanics and a truck driver who were in the shop if they had heard of Daddy’s excitement that morning. They laughed and said they had.

The driver then said, “I’m glad I wasn’t standing in the doorway when that tire blew.”

I guess you could say, “It scared his mule.”

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