Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: “They Can Kill You, But They Can’t Eat You…”

 

“They can kill you, but they can’t eat you…”

I have heard the above quote all my life. My father said it regularly, so did my grandfather. I will even say it myself from time to time. These types of quotes are in the ether, we inherit them from our forefathers, friends, family, acquaintances, and society at large. This one has something to do with living through tough times. It always sounded incomplete to me. Obviously, if they can kill you, what is stopping them from eating you? Manners? If they were impolite enough to kill you, I am sure that manners would not stop them from eating you if they were so inclined. There was obviously a second part of the quote, a rejoinder that would make the first part make sense. Something lost, something forgotten, something that when I asked around nobody knew.

I was listening to Rob Long on a podcast a while back when he used the quote. He used its most common rejoinder. “They can kill you, but they can’t eat you … that would be illegal.” Still doesn’t sound right. If they killed you, I doubt that the legalities of eating you would pose much of a problem to them. Can’t really fault Rob, as I said this is its most common rejoinder I have found so far.

A few times I went to the source of all knowledge (the internet) and searched for the quote. Found that there are a book and a movie about the first part of the quote. Seems to have to do with hard times and mental illness. Still can’t seem to find the rejoinder. The thing still nagged at me.

I am a Mason and a Shriner. We are one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world. On a visit to the Shrine one day I came by an older brother Mason at the bar. This is not unusual, there are usually a few older guys hanging around the bar telling stories. Most don’t drink. I think they might keep the alcohol there to lure us younger guys by to listen to them. You got to watch these old guys; they can be crafty.

I sat down to get to know my brother, this is a Mason thing, there are millions of Masons in the world, I know very few, but they all are my brother. This one was in pain. You see decades ago in WWII his unit was wiped out. He was the only one that survived. He was there to raise a glass to them, it was his yearly ritual. So, he came to the Shrine to be among brothers while he remembered others. I had a drink with him to honor men I will never meet but still means something to a brother I just met.

Afterward, we sat around and chewed the fat. He told me a bit about his life. That he lost his unit WWII, got back to the states afterward to find even more family dead in the war. Lost a son in Korea and a grandson in another US military action. Lost his daughter in a car wreck and a wife to cancer. Said he had a full life but that he was all that was left of his family. He outlived them all. There is not a whole lot you can say to all of that. Off the top of my head I said, “They can kill you, but they can’t eat you…” and he replied with a whisper “because you’re too damn tough.”

That was the end of my quest. I had found the rejoinder to an old WWII quote that is in the process of being lost into history. Told to me by a man that lived it, at the time it was used, that was not only to tough to eat but too tough to die.

You see:

They can kill you, but they can’t eat you… because you’re too damn tough.

There are 25 comments.

  1. Judge Mental Member

    His story reminds me of this song. I think it’s the lines the old man says.

    • #1
    • February 2, 2018, at 11:26 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Rodin Member

    What a contrast to metrosexuals and snowflakes and to the generation who raised (?) them, taught them, and formed them.

    • #2
    • February 3, 2018, at 12:21 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. Michael Minnott Member

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. If only we can live up to the rejoinder.

    • #3
    • February 3, 2018, at 1:14 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Annefy Member

    Thanks for that.

    • #4
    • February 3, 2018, at 1:46 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. dajoho Member

    Great story. I routinely heard this in my faction of the army as “they can kill you, but they can’t eat you. And if they do I hope they get a stomach ache.”

    • #5
    • February 3, 2018, at 2:21 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Vectorman Thatcher

    dajoho (View Comment):
    Great story. I routinely heard this in my faction of the army as “they can kill you, but they can’t eat you. And if they do I hope they get a stomach ache.”

    Great corollary!


    This conversation is an entry in our Quote of the Day Series. We have many openings on February’s schedule. If this reminds you of a quotation that is important to you, why not sign up today?

    • #6
    • February 3, 2018, at 2:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Patrick McClure Member

    Great post.

    • #7
    • February 3, 2018, at 3:36 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Western Chauvinist Member

    I love it! Thanks for the story.

    That’s a keeper.

    • #8
    • February 3, 2018, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. Larry3435 Member

    Leftist fantasy version: “They can kill you, but they can’t use a gun, because that would be illegal.”

    • #9
    • February 3, 2018, at 6:16 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. Randy Webster Member

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):
    Thank you for sharing this story with us. If only we can live up to the rejoinder.

    All it takes is getting old.

    • #10
    • February 3, 2018, at 6:32 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt Post author

    dajoho (View Comment):
    Great story. I routinely heard this in my faction of the army as “they can kill you, but they can’t eat you. And if they do I hope they get a stomach ache.”

    I have not heard that ending before. It’s funny how the first part of the quote stuck but the second part faded. I suspect back in the days it was used the second part was just understood and rarely spoken. Eventually it faded in memory and people started to cast about for the missing part based on modern day sensibilities.

    • #11
    • February 3, 2018, at 10:36 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Thank you for this for multiple reasons.

    • #12
    • February 3, 2018, at 12:08 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. GFHandle Member

    Bravo.

    • #13
    • February 3, 2018, at 6:23 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    @fakejohnjanegalt this is the first article I’ve seen from you in some months. It was well worth the wait.

    • #14
    • February 3, 2018, at 6:36 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt Post author

    Chuckles (View Comment):
    @fakejohnjanegalt this is the first article I’ve seen from you in some months. It was well worth the wait.

    Thank you for the kind words. For some reason this topic needed to be written. I am glad it made it to the front page. Maybe now it is out on the internet the quotes past will not be entirely forgotten.

    • #15
    • February 3, 2018, at 6:48 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    I’ve learned a whole lot of old-fashioned phrases from my wife’s father, but I’ve never heard that one. My father-in-law was a Navy man so he knows a lot of “colorful metaphors,” as Mr. Spock puts it.

    • #16
    • February 3, 2018, at 7:17 PM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Nohaaj Coolidge

    dajoho (View Comment):
    Great story. I routinely heard this in my faction of the army as “they can kill you, but they can’t eat you. And if they do I hope they get a stomach ache.”

    It is a great story. There is a dark side of me that must respond: “tastes like chicken!”

    • #17
    • February 3, 2018, at 8:35 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Bob Thompson Member

    Your commentary almost always leaves me frowning, not in dismay, but pushing me to think more. I like this post and the comments. Thank you.

    • #18
    • February 4, 2018, at 5:47 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    This is so beautiful Thank you so much for sharings it!

    • #19
    • February 4, 2018, at 6:20 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    Thanks for sharing

    • #20
    • February 4, 2018, at 6:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Owen Petard Member

    That is a great quote. I don’t think I’ve ever run across it before, either in part or whole. Good ear to realize there had to be something more, that something that rounds it out and brings it on home. The entire quote is one that should not be lost to the sands of time.

    Thank you!

    • #21
    • February 4, 2018, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Arahant Member

    Fake John/Jane Galt: Off the top of my head I said, “They can kill you, but they can’t eat you…” and he replied with a whisper “because you’re too damn tough.”

    I had to come back to this again. This might just be the best quote of the day I have seen. As TBA said, “for multiple reasons.” Thanks for bringing it to us.

    • #22
    • February 4, 2018, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  23. Judge Mental Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt: Off the top of my head I said, “They can kill you, but they can’t eat you…” and he replied with a whisper “because you’re too damn tough.”

    I had to come back to this again. This might just be the best quote of the day I have seen. As TBA said, “for multiple reasons.” Thanks for bringing it to us.

    Second.

    • #23
    • February 4, 2018, at 10:20 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt Post author

    @roblong

    I received a PM reminding me that it is considered polite to notify Rob Long since he was referenced in the original post.

    • #24
    • February 5, 2018, at 6:58 AM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    During OSUT at Ft. Benning, 1997, our brigade commander told us we needed to be tougher than woodpecker lips.

    • #25
    • February 5, 2018, at 8:29 AM PST
    • 9 likes