Posted by Pamela on March 01, 2007
In Reply to: Slower than a stunned mullet posted by Smokey Stover on March 01, 2007
: : where did "slower than a stunned mullet" come from?
: I'm not aware of this as a common phrase or saying, although it might be so among mullet fishermen. Mullet are common pretty much everywhere in tropical or semi-tropical waters, and are a good eating fish when fresh. I would think that all fish would become slow when stunned but not dead. In U.S. waters, mullet are fished in waters off the Gulf Coast. So that's undoubtedly where the phrase originated.
"Like a stunned mullet" is very common in Australia, most commonly "He just stood there like a stunned mullet" meaning a. in complete bewilderment or astonishment or b. in a state of inertia (Macquarie Dictionary). I have never heard "slow as a ..." (and we Australians don't really use it as a metaphore) and there is only one hit on google for the complete phrase - an Australian writing for an English paper , but I can find one Australian (Robert Hughes) who's used it. He was writing for a foreign publication (The Times) so maybe he felt that simply saying "like a stunned mullet" wouldn't be understood and thought it wise to include the "slow". http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,923412,00.html). As to why - well perhaps if you hit a mullet on the head it stares dumbly and doesn't move, but I can't speak from experience. In a discussion about the origin of the name "mullet" for that georgeous, manly haircut, "why is a mullet called a mullet?") Daniel Lillford has written; "There is an Australian saying: "Looking like a stunned mullet". ... My understanding ... is to look like a stunned mullet implies you've had a bit of a shock, mate, as any mullet fish would have when its head is smacked across the gunwale by a fisherman. It also is a sly dig referring to a few marbles not rolling the right way, meaning the lights are on but nobody is home. The vacuous look. The mullet look. Why confuse a fish that's done nothing to you with a poncy haircut? Buggered if I know". Other theories are also offered, some quite amusing. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,,-6465,00.html). Pamela