Although I try to keep up with the times (at least mostly), sometimes I find myself falling into words and phrases from childhood. My kids frequently let me know when I’m saying something that is JUST NOT SAID these days, although sometimes I’m not sure whether the things I say are remnants of another time, or of the place (several hours south of here) where I grew up.
A friend recently sent this email, about the same topic. Here are snippets of it (uh oh — is “snippets” used anymore?), along with my commentary…
because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included “Don’t
touch that dial,” “Carbon copy,” “You sound like a broken record” and “Hung
out to dry.” A bevy of readers have asked me to shine light on more faded
words and expressions, and I am happy to oblige:
Well, it’s certainly true that the current crop of kids wouldn’t have any frame of reference for carbon copies or broken records — even, perhaps, hanging things out to dry.
and straighten up and fly right. Hubba-hubba! We’d cut a rug in some juke
joint and then go necking and petting and smooching and spooning and billing
and cooing and pitching woo in hot rods and jalopies in some passion pit or
lovers lane. Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy
moley! We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular
guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for
all the tea in China!
Okay, gotta admit that I would not say many of these phrases. In my youth, we said things were “cool,” “neat,” or even “neat-o.” Haven’t heard neat-o in years. “Awesome” was more recent, and was popular when I was teaching. I remember feeling pretty edgy calling things “gross” when that trend first began. Never did get into saying “grody.”
was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of
spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes and pedal pushers.
become unstuck in time. We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap,
and before we can say, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! or This is a fine kettle of
and they’re gone, like Mickey Mouse wristwatches, hula hoops, skate keys, candy
cigarettes, little wax bottles of colored sugar water and an organ grinders
Most of that sounds familiar — watches. Regular watches. Do kids wear those anymore (or do ADULTS even)? I’m betting many rely on their phones for that these days. Yes, in my childhood we had a pogo stick (which was never too successful), hula hoops (ditto), roller skates with a key. I do remember the wax bottle candy, but was never much of a fan. I’m familiar with organ grinders and their monkeys, although I think the only place I’ve actually seen one was in Germany.
gone? Long time ago: Pshaw. The milkman did it. Think about the starving
Armenians. Bigger than a bread box. The very idea! It’s your
nickel. Don’t forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper.
Turn-of-the-century. Iron curtain. Domino theory. Fail safe. Civil defense.
Fiddlesticks! You look like the wreck of the Hesperus. Cooties. Going like
sixty. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels.
Heavens to Murgatroyd!
each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end
of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words
that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour
upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective
memory. It’s one of the greatest advantages of aging. We can have archaic and
eat it, too.
Most of these phrases are familiar to me, but I don’t say most of them — reading over them, they do sound a bit dated.
Frequently I hear (or more often, read) words and phrases that are not part of my lexicon — “on fleek,” YOLO, brah (not “bro”; must be “brah”), heck I’m not even really feeling “I know, right?” yet. Sigh. Just the turning of the generations, I guess …
So now it’s your turn. What words/phrases do you either remember from your younger years, or do you hear now that are new to you?