Tag Archives: english as a second language

ESL 101: ‘No guts, no glory’

Welcome to my classroom.

May I see your reference letter? Ah, I understand. You saw my ad in the Wendy’s franchisee quarterly magazine, The Freckler. Did you cut out the coupon and send away for a free glowing wrist chain that will attract my attention far better than a nude wrist would when raising your hand to participate in group discussion? No matter. Please point to the seat you desire, take out your paper and pen, memorize as many things in the room as you can just in case everything disappears and someone asks “Hey, what was in here?”, and let’s get to today’s lesson.

Today’s English phrase we will be exploring is No guts, no glory.

Etymology: I develop a lot of my lesson plans from my mother’s journals because she famously invented the quip “Too soon” but they didn’t contain anything about this phrase. I almost gave up and built a lesson around “fuck you”, based on a recipe toward the back of the journal on how to make “fuck you beef” but then I found an old comic strip circa 2000 tucked into the dust jacket that provided some juicy tidbits. The strip was given to Italian immigrants to teach them effective phrases to yell toward potential employers at the end of botched job interviews and thankfully, “No guts, no glory” was included.

The phrase was coined by a freaky ass kid’s dad. The kid cut open a toad and took out all its stuff and then gave it to his dad for Valentine’s Day. The dad noticed the toad wasn’t very heavy and checked it out and the toad had no guts of course. That’s where he got the guts part. By “glory” he meant allowance.

Made famous by: The phrase escaped the suburbs 20 years later when that same freaky kid told his husband who thought it was so funny. He then told a flight attendant friend that the thing could blow up overseas where toads are considered a fucking joke, so he slipped the fly girl the price of spreading information via air (a silver piece and box of cigars) and the flight attendant dropped it on 5 major cities to kickstart the spread.

Oddly enough it was an army guy in USA, NA who liked the way it sounded and wanted to apply it to his own life. Unlike the silly part about the toad, the guts he’s talking about don’t mean the big wet n chewies inside, but rather the gunk in a tough guy’s thoughts that usually smell a bit like a UFC fighter bungie jumping into a volcano to retrieve BBQd ribs that he dropped because he was busy watching a girl tie her shoes. “Glory” means sports.

Sounds best: These days it’s best uttered quietly under your breath after somebody catches you putting store bought chicken eggs in a robin’s nest because you think it’s cute.

Cheat Sheet: As with every lesson I like to give you something to take home because I know taking notes is hard with all the snails around here. If you’re struggling to remember today’s lesson you can snap a pic of my back: