What I share won't come from after dark but rather the quiet before the light, warm morning kisses, and the cold grip of the day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

“Turning Retrospection to the Future”

Things come back.  Thin ties.  Cat-eye glasses.  Cocktails.  Writers.  Expect fins on cars.  My fashion dowsing rod is pulling toward the double-breasted jacket…again.  (I must check in the closet in the hope Darling hasn’t Goodwill-ed my navy blue Donna Karen double-breasted blazer!  Classic; just a hint of shoulder pad.)  Go further and bring back the “Hollywood Roll,” a double-breast style from the early 50s with a long, wide lapel and one button near the belly.  Not to mention, a nifty pun.

I have designs on the fashion of language and call for some of that old-time slang to reappear and, to put into the closet warn out, threadbare, contemporary slang.  ‘Whatever’ - needs a moratorium.  Says you!  Get out!  Who cares? Tell me another!  ‘Get a life’, can go buh-bye, as well.  Most of us use popular words and phrases as linguistic, trendy shorthand; it can be fun and current.  But, ‘24/7?’  Round-the-clock. Habitual. Ceaseless.  If I never hear ‘the whole nine yards’ again, I will be relieved.  (What does that mean, when you think about it?)  ‘Whole enchilada’ isn’t any great shakes, either.

I’ve begun to seed my conversations and missives with jargon from various eras.  It’s time for ‘dude’ to take a hinge and to bring back cat.  Cat has some dignity and edge.  It’s jazz age.  ‘Cool’ is the black of slang: you can’t go wrong using the word and I was delighted it reentered the scene many years back.  It may be irreplaceable, like, ‘like’ (talk about overuse), or OK.  That’s hunky-dory.  Why not vary it with keen, neat, hip, ace, top-notch, the berries, ducky, or copacetic?  (From Copacabana.)  ‘Right on’ surfaced during the millennium and ‘totally’ blew me away.  Utterly.  Flat-out. Sheer. Purely. Indubitable.  Anyway, we sound Swedish when we say, “toe-tahlee.”

I had to explain, and produce confirmation, to convince Kid, a college sophomore, that And, how! is a legitimate old time expression for You bet! Right on! Indeed!  She’d never heard it used or come across it reading.  (So many ways you can spin that one, too: Annnnd, how!  And, HOW!)  When I was a boy and saw the film “The Music Man,” I got a hoot out of Robert Preston warning the town folk of River City to watch out for words sneaking into their kid’s conversation.  “Words like – swell.”   At which point the chorus of folk all gasp!  I’ve been using swell, recently.  It takes people a back, at first.  They’re not sure what I’m saying, or whether I’m being sarcastic.  Not all of the old-fashion slang is wimpy.  I’ve commandeered one from my dad.  He would use balls as we use crap, hell, damn, give me a break, or even shit.  Perhaps, bull would be a back-up if balls is too hairy.  My mother, if I overstepped, would say, “Don’t give me any sass!”  Isn’t that the cat’s pajamas?  If she felt someone was a pain in the ass, she’d say they were a pill.

“Just sayin’!’, ‘no offense’ but we could all endeavor to be a little bit more creative, and if we can’t find an old-fashioned word, create a new idiom, with the proviso that at soon as you hear your invention said back to you, drop it, and find another.   In the nineties it was rather dear to hear a masculine man use ‘sweet’ for nice.  My 11 year old nephew says ‘awesome’ is passé and epic is now.  ‘Shut up!’  I recently attended a national sales seminar, where our trainer sprinkled modern idioms like confetti.  ‘Oh. My. God’, he used ‘Really?’ in that sarcastic manner of you gotta be kidding, forty-seven times in four hours‘Seriously?’  The first dozen, I thought, well, he has the lingo to show he’s au courant…then, after a while, I started counting them and (‘Duh!’) not listening to his message.  ‘Shoot me now.’

When you get down to it, many idioms are pejorative, hurtful denigrations, and require a more serious discussion than I am up for.  It’s certainly demeaning to refer to a young woman as a ‘babe’, or a ‘chick’, and so many terms we all should stop using and perpetuating.  Euphemistically, older isn’t necessarily better: tomato, dish, toots, chica, skank, bushpig, fox, woofer, sea donkey.  (Old joke – so old nobody gets it: Why are mother-in-laws like seeds?  You don’t really need ‘em but they come with the tomatah.)  Skirt?  Dame?  (When it comes to a broad, I’m a gam man, myself.  But, then I’m a closet dick.  That is, I read old detective novels.)  There are instances where slang, a diminutive, shouldn’t be applied in gender, race, religion; respect should trump our baser motives.  Repressing the use of the word won’t make the hate go away.  Sad, isn’t it?

Admittedly, old nomenclature may be just that: old and from an era that is best forgotten.  I wouldn’t want to see ‘Boss!’ invigorated, or ‘Groovy!?’  ‘Eew!’  ‘Get out!’  Trends can overwhelm our creative, snappy spirit and soon what seemed ‘fresh’, ‘dope’, ‘sick’, ‘rad’, jaunty, raw, crisp, recent, or just plain catchy, is spoiled forever; its very uniqueness, old hat.  (Does every ‘dork’ sport a pork-pie, now?)

Anon, James