Trying to Stay Hip, or Was It Hep?

When did “MEH” become a word?  You know, “meh” as in “e-n-n-h”?  Some sort of verbal shrug, I guess.  Anyway, it’s been appearing in crosswords lately so it has some legitimacy.  Dictionaries will be next, if it hasn’t already taken its place as our next new word, or nonword.

New words come and go so fast anymore it’s hard to keep up.  I think I’ve gotten the hang of the latest trendy term and by the time I try to use it, it’s already history.  I never was too great at slang, couldn’t figure out the difference between “hip” and “hep” until both words were passe’.

Our use of slang usually develops at about the same time as our lifetime hairdo and an enduring love for “our” music.  Old habits die hard.  It’s embarrassing to catch the grandkids raising their eyebrows and stifling giggles when granny or gramps uses a decades old expression.

I myself used the term “ab fab” until everyone was sick of it and me both.  I had a dentist a few years back who would mutter “right on” in my ear repeatedly as he dug and scraped.  “Right on, right on” like a verbal tic.  I finally moved to Oregon and managed to get rid of him.

A favorite niece is still “bopping” around.  Since she was always a cute little “boppy” type of gal with a mop of curly blond 1980s hair, I just smile and let her bop away.  And here’s an oldie; it’s comforting to get calls from my high school buddies who still call me “kid.”  I haven’t been called “kid”  since I left the corn fields a week after high school graduation and I like it.

My dear old husband thought “Daddy-O” was a really cool form of greeting right up to the end.  He never caught on to “dude,”

today’s favorite address(at least I think it’s still O.K., as of this morning).  I rely on the comic strip “ZITS” for all my up to date information.

No one else can wring as much out of the word “dude” as Jeremy and his pack.  (Notice I use the word “pack” instead of buddies, bros or homies.  Very trendy, or at least it was last week.)  They can get at least two, and sometimes three syllables out of “dude.”  Voices either rising, “doo-ood,” with approval, or dropping,  “doo-oo-ood,” when things go wrong.

I often use the word “cool” myself.  Now there’s a word with staying power.  For years things were cool. Then they weren’t cool, they were “rad.”  Then they weren’t “rad,” they were “hot.”  No longer “hot,” now they’re “cool” again, much to my relief.  It’s one of those words I’m stuck with.  “Coo-ool!”  Now tell me what  “chillaxe”  means.

Most of our current slang tends toward brevity.  A combo of today’s need for instant gratification and the electronic world’s terms of technology has us speaking in shorthand.  Half words are popular: robo, slo-mo, repo, info, nogo and non compo, and we’re all learning twittery initials such as LOL, OMG and BLT. No one takes the time to finish a sentence.  About the time we get the hang of all this it’ll change again anyway.

WHOODA  THUNK?  Now I ask you, is that a sentence?  What kind of a word is “whooda”?  Another non word. “Thunk” can be traced back to the verb form “to think,” terrible grammar but do-able, but “whooda”?  I dunno, not cool.  Go figgah.

I tried floating a few new words myself, just to see if I could start a trend.  For instance, I’ve always preferred the term “old foggy”  to “old fogie” when referring to someone in my age group. Much more descriptive.  Somehow it never caught on.  Everyone assumed I could neither pronounce nor spell “fogie” and I was repeatedly corrected.

Then I tried a word I’d always fancied, “rancid.”  A great word, cool, and sounding just like what it is, rancid.  I began referring to everything I had a slight disdain for as “rancid.”  I even went so far as to look for it in the responses to my blog. I could have tolerated the occasional  “Lady, your blog is rancid” as a small tribute to my wordsmanship.  What I got was “Lady, your blog stinks.”  Short and to the point.  I gave up on “rancid,”  not cool.

Another trend I deplore, using a verb and a noun interchangeably.  Take the silly word “Google.”  Do you realize it’s possible to “google” “Google”? I do it all the time.  Of course, with my old fashioned sensibilities, I feel the need to address them in a formal manner.  A recent correspondence went something like this:

“Dear Sir or Madam Google, as the case may be,  Would you be so kind as to explain to me, not only the origin, but also the meaning of your silly, stupid name?  Thanking you in advance, I remain yours most respectfully,  Ms. Just Another Old Foggy, ha-ha.”

Note the trendy use of “Ms.”, also the little “ha-ha” just to let them know I’m  only kidding. Very cool.

Their response;  “Dear Ms-Just-Another-Old-Foggy-ha-ha,  Do  you  mean  fogie?”

Meh!  Whooda Thunk?

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Auntie Jo’s Advice to the Aging Lovelorn

Elder-amour,  is that a real expression or did I just make it up?  Whichever, it sounds good and love can be such a rewarding addition to the aging process.  It might sneak up on any of us at any age and when it’s returned, these last years of our lives will be enriched.

But how do we tell what’s real  from a passing fancy?  I have a friend, using the word loosely,  who latches on to any man who comes into orbit like a Venus-Fly-Trap sensing life.  When he gets that deer-in-the-headlights look, it’s too late for him.  Auntie Jo frowns on this.  He’s been hooked and the rest of us hardly had a chance to notice whether he had hair, chewed tobacco or wore white socks with his wing-tips.

As a boon for those of you ladies who are looking, but may not be as fast a worker as my friend, I’ve prepared a checklist of priorities:

#1  Does he still drive?

#2  Does he still drive the family sedan, circa 1998?  OR  Is the ratio of dents to original paint overwhelming?  If either of these is true, and you value your life, drop the guy.

#3  If the answer to #1 is Yes, he still drives, and you feel daring or desperate enough to ignore #2, don’t hesitate to make your move, white socks or not.  It’s worth a try.  Trust Auntie Jo.

In the interest of fairness I’d also like to present a list that you men can refer to, especially those of you who are Not Looking.  You can call it your  “Keep-Out-Of-Jail”  card.

If your idea of retirement revolves around a quiet evening in front of a fake fireplace, clad in your rattiest sweats and worn down slippers while you sip a single malt and enjoy a crime novel,  Forget It!  You’ve already been scouted and appraised, and you need to be Afraid,  Be Very Afraid.

Desperate measures are called for here, guys, and you have only two options open to you:

#1  You could consider entering a monastery, although they might not approve of the single malt.

OR:

#2  You can discreetly drop a few hints to the effect that you’re allergic to VIAGRA.

However, all of you, if you Are looking, and you Do spot your perfect target (pardon me) choice, you might be out of practice, so bear in mind that a certain amount of decorum is called for.  Holding hands in public is good, it’s such a comforting thing to do, and it always gets an  “Aw-w-w-w,  How Sweet!”  reaction from everyone.  Auntie Jo highly approves!

Any moves beyond gently clasping your loved one’s gnarled fingers with your own are frowned upon and will bring into play an instant  “cringe”  reaction from observers,  not to mention scaring the BEEJABBERS out of any offspring who might be counting on an inheritance.  In other words, keep your best moves to yourselves.  No hanky-panky in the corners or behind the potted palms.

If, after long and careful thought, you both agree to cohabitate, give yourselves plenty of time to adjust to having another person in your space. This is not as easy as it sounds.  Somehow, someway you find you’ve turned into a bit of a slob.  Or just the opposite, your life is now ruled by O.C.D.  Whatever has happened to you, your new partner is sure to have experienced the reverse.

One of you stands at the kitchen sink to eat lunch, digging peanut butter out of the jar and licking it off the spoon.  The other one still uses cloth placemats.

One of you flails all night and throws bedding around the room.  The other one carefully tucks the sheet under a double chin and doesn’t move until morning.

One of you wears the same outfit for 2 or 3 days in a row, finally discarding it in a wrinkled, smelly pile in the middle of the floor.  The other one changes 2 or 3 times a day, carefully putting the already worn clothes back on a hanger until it’s time to do laundry.

And so it goes.   It’s called adjustment and no matter how difficult it might be, or how long it takes, the results are more than worth the stress.  To those of you lucky enough to have found a new life together, I wish you only the best.  Don’t let it bother you one little bit that Auntie Jo is sitting here alone, miserable and green with envy.

Love Those Oldie Moldies

Everybody loves the Golden Oldies, those beautiful songs that have been played at every High School Prom since the 1930s.  “Sentimental Journey,”  “Deep Purple,”  “Take The  A Train,”  “Moonlight Serenade,”  all those dreamy old dance tunes bring the memories flooding back.

I love them too, but what really brings tears to my eyes, tears of laughter, are the ridiculous old novelty songs also popular at the time.  I’m thinking of the Oldie Moldies like  “Fwee Widdow Fithies” and  “The Hut-Sut” song.  The melodies were simple and easy to sing, but the lyrics were often incomprehensible, sometimes wildly insane, always silly and always fun.

The 1940s seemed to breed the zaniest tunes.  Was it the stress of a major World War?  The euphoria everyone felt post-war when we were finally able to resume our lives?  Whatever, those crazy ditties were a high point of music in the 1940s and the ’50s.

The first nonsense song to become popular actually dated back to the 1890s with  “Ta-Ra-Ra-BOOM-De-Ay”  when the Can-Can was all the rage and the  “BOOM” coincided with the high kick.  World War I and the 1920s had a few novelty songs.  Remember Betty Boop with her  “Boop-Boop-A-Doop”?  Well, of course you don’t remember, we’re not quite that old but we’ve all heard it, that cutsie voice over and over.   “K-K-Katy ” and  “Yes, We Have No Bananas”  were popular at about the same time.  Jimmy Durante’s signature song  “Inka-Dinka-Doo” came out in the early ‘30s.  By the late 1930s,  possibly due to the waning of the Great Depression, nonsense songs  began coming into their own.

I’ve always thought part of their enormous appeal was the fact that they were played and sung so earnestly and with such sincerity.  No hamming it up, no screwy antics;  (Well, there was one big exception with Spike Jones and His City Slickers)  but other vocalists, other bands and orchestras all played it straight.

“Flat Foot Floogie with the Floy Floy”  and  “Cement Mixer, Putsie, Putsie”  were written by a man named  Slim Gaillard in 1938.  1939 brought  “Hold Tight, Hold Tight, Fooma Racka Sacka , Want Some Seafood Mama”  and  “The Fwee Widdow Fithies”  with the chorus  “Boop Boop Dittum Dottom Wattum Choo”  repeated twice.  Try singing that with a straight face!

An early 1940 favorite was  “Hut Sut Ralston On The Rilleraw and a Brawla, Brawla Soo It”  hyped as a sweet little Swedish folk tune but actually pure gibberish.  The big hit in 1942 with the onset of World War II was  “PFTHT, PFTHT Right In Der Fuehrer’s Face”  with a fake Nazi salute on every  “PFTHT.”

“Mairzy Doats”  was huge in 1943.  A charming little song, the fun was in figuring out the spelling.  “Mairzy Doats and Dozey Doats and Liddel Lambsey Divey. A Kiddelee Divey Too, Wooden U?”  Bing Crosby had a lovely song that year,  “An Irish Lullaby.”  The lyrics were familiar to me, having listened to my father sing them to us as children;  “Tura Lura Lura, Tura Lura Lee, Tura Lura Lura, Just An Irish Lullaby.”

A happy little movie,  “Song Of The South,”  came out at about the same time  featuring a lovable story-book character named Uncle Remus and the song  “Zip a Dee Doo Dah, Zip a Dee Yay, My Oh My What a Wonderful Day.”  Unfortunately, Uncle Remus lost out to Political Correctness over the years and the happy little song was lost too.

1945 had everyone singing  “Hey Ba Ba Ree Bop”;  the beginning of the Bop music craze which gave rise to a ground-swell of continuous change in popular music, through Rock ‘n Roll, Punk, Rap, Ska, Reggae, Heavy Metal and others,  right up to what we hear today as New Age.   If there’s anything newer now than New Age, spare me.

By far the biggest influence in novelty music over the years from 1942 on,  was the band, Spike Jones and His City Slickers.   There was no pretense at earnestness or sincerity with them, they were the clowns.   Xylophones, pistols, washboards, cymbals, klaxons, foghorns, they used them all and managed to murder such popular songs as “Chloe,”   “Ghost Riders,”  “Hotcha Chonya,” “Hawaiian War Chant”  and  “Cocktails For Two hic, Two hic, Two hic.”

They had an endless series of hits, “Der Fuehrer’s Face”  being the biggest of all.  After committing mayhem on the popular songs of the day they took on the classics.  To this day I can’t listen to  “The 1812 Overture” without laughing.

By 1947 and ’48 we had treasures like  “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo “  and the puzzling “I’m My Own Grandpa.”  Follow those convoluted lyrics if you can, no one I knew ever could, although they were supposedly based on a real-life situation.   Hoagy Carmichael and Arthur Godfrey each recorded songs that would never be played today with our enlightened outlook on obesity.  “Huggin’ and A-Chalkin”  by Hoagy Carmichael and  “The Too-Fat Polka”  featuring Arthur Godfrey’s gravelly chuckle were huge at the time.   “Huggin’ and A-Chalkin’ “  can still be found on the internet, and there’s Hoagy banging away on the upright with his fedora jammed on the back of his head, still hilarious.

Going into the ’50s, the tongue twisters and double talk became less popular and “story” songs were big.  “All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”  was a huge holiday hit.  There was a fun song about a Pterodactyl but I can’t seem to recall more than two lines of it;  “Oh the Pterodactyl Was A Flyin’ Fool.  Just a Breeze-flappin’ Daddy Of The Old School.”  I’m not sure of the vocalist either, but it might have been Phil Harris, he was very popular at the time.

Later on, we had  “Splish Splash,”  “Alley Oop,”  “Itsy Bitsy Teensy Weensy Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini”  and that classic  “The Witch Doctor – “OO-EE-Oh-Ah-Ah, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.”  I guess double talk wasn’t totally forgotten.  Oh yes, let’s not forget  “Yackety Yack, Don’t Talk Back.”  And how about  “The Purple People Eater”?   Then there was  “Does The Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor On The Bed-Post Overnight?”  fun to sing.

More recently Roger Miller,  Stan Freberg, Alan Sherman (Remember  “Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda,  Here I Am At Camp Grenada”), and one of my all-time favorites, Ray Stevens, all became well known.  Ray Stevens’  “The Streak”  came out after we began to read about exhibitionists who  –  well  –  streaked across football fields, basketball courts, through shopping malls, anywhere for an audience, and always stark naked.  Ray Stevens’ voice was perfect for the note of hillbilly outrage when The Streak embarrassed him in front of his wife, Ethel.  He had the right twang and the rubbery  vowels for the lines “He’s up thar in the cheap seats”  and  “Don’t look, Ethel.”  Of course, by the last verse, Ethel was chasing the streaker.  “The Streak”  can still be found online if you need a good laugh.

Oh, for those good old days and those good old songs.

HUGGIN’  AND  A – CHALKIN’

I got a gal who’s mighty sweet,

Big blue eyes and tiny feet.

Her name is Rosabel McGee

And she tips the scales at 303.

And Gee but ain’t it grand to have a gal so big and fat

That when you go to hug her you don’t know where you’re at.

You have to take a piece of chalk in your hand

and hug a ways and chalk a mark to see where you began.

Nobody ever said I’m weak,

My bones don’t ache, my joints don’t squeak,

But I go pale and I get limp

Every time I see my baby blimp.

One day I was a-huggin’ and a-chalkin’ and a-beggin’ her to be my bride,

When I met another fella with some chalk in his hand

Comin’ around the other side, over the mountain, over the mountains,

Over the Great Divide, comin’ around the other side.