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Skimming the Scum

Posted By Patrick Cleland On April 25, 2013 @ 6:58 pm In Folk speech,Foodways,Proverbs,Rituals, festivals, holidays | Comments Disabled

This saying also comes from the dining hall of West Point Military Academy. Every meal, there was one plebe in charge of many of the menial tasks such as distributing food and filling empty glasses. One such task was that before he passed the gravy to the rest of the cadets, the individual had to say memorized verse. The verse,m according to the informant, is as follows:

“Sir, the scum-skimmer reports that the scum has been swiftly and successfully skimmed.¬† Scum-skimmed gravy to the head of the table for inspection, please, sir”

If this was not said perfectly, the officer in charge would not accept it for inspection. The informant recalls cadets with heavy accents stumbling over the words multiple times, delaying the dining process severely. In the military, there are many situations in which you will need to perform under pressure. Most of the exercises in training are designed to prepare for this. Having to say a memorized line perfectly under the scrutiny of  superior helps cadets to get over their fears of being put under pressure. The informant told this story to his friends family after leaving the academy and it has become a joke to recite the saying whenever gravy is being passed at dinner.


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