This morning I asked Max to feed the cat. For emphasis I added, "fast, like Jack the Bear." Which made me wonder (again) where it came from and what it means.
I know I got it from my dad. He used it often in sentences like this: 'I told old so-and-so I'd stop by and look at that truck, but I'll be fast like Jack the Bear.' Ironically, this usually meant we were about to spend a lot of time waiting in the car while he picked up a part, dropped something off, or helped someone out.
Until I left home, I never thought to ask what it meant. The meaning was clear enough and I thought it was just another one of his colloquialisms, like The Dairy Kink (Dairy Queen), pass the moke, Joke (please pass the milk), back when I was a little girl (a long time ago) or, this is better than hammered horse-pucky (this tastes really good).
It wasn't until I started using it with my kids, who would stare at me and ask "Who's Jack the Bear?" that I realized I didn't know. And then, this morning, I finally thought to google it. I wasn't really expecting to find anything, but it turns out that Jack the Bear is a racing term, meaning the car is moving at optimum efficiency or running flat-out.
Huh. Maybe I'll google hammered horse-pucky...