“…We’d cut a rug in some juke joint and then go necking…”

WORDS AND PHRASES REMIND US OF: ‘THE WAY WE WORD ‘.

By:  Richard Lederer

About a month ago, I illuminated old expressions that have become obsolete 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:

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We’d put on our best bib and tucker, 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! Jumpin’ 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!

Back in the olden days, life used to be ‘cool’, or swell, but when’s the last time anything 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. Oh, my aching back. Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

Like Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle and Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, we have 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 fish!” we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, poof, poof go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind. We blink, and they’re gone, evanesced from the landscape and wordscape of our perception, like Mickey Mouse wristwatches, hula hoops, skate keys, candy cigarettes, little wax bottles of colored sugar water and an organ grinder’s monkey.

Where have all those phrases gone? Long time passing. Where have all those phrases gone? Long time ago: Pshaw. The milkman did it. Think about the starving Armenians. Bigger than a bread box. Banned in Boston. 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! And awa-a-ay we go!

Oh, my stars and garters! It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter had liver pills.

This can be disturbing stuff, this winking out of the words of our youth, these words that lodge in our heart’s deep core. But just as one never steps into the same river twice, one cannot step into the same language twice. Even as one enters, words are swept downstream into the past, forever making a different river.

We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times. For a child 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.

See ya later, alligator!

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The above article, ‘The Way We Word,’ is authored by Dr. Richard Lederer (see bio below), and is reprinted with permission. For reference; Dr. Lederer’s web site is: http://verbivore.com/wordpress/about-richard-lederer/

Richard Lederer is the author of more than 40 books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series and his current books, The Gift of Age, A Tribute to Teachers, American Trivia, and Amazing Words. He has been profiled in magazines as diverse as The New Yorker, People, and the National Inquirer and was founding co-host of “A Way With Words” on Public Radio.

Dr. Lederer’s observations on language appear in magazines throughout the United States, and “Lederer on Language” appears each Saturday in the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has been elected International Punster of the Year and Toastmasters International’s Golden Gavel winner. He makes about a hundred appearances a year and, as a speaker, is at home in almost any venue.

Richard Lederer is the proud father of professional poker players Howard Lederer and Annie Duke and poet/memoirist Katy Lederer. Richard and his wife, Simone van Egeren, live in San Diego.

Photo Credit: Kim Treffinger

This article sponsored by: BrOOKS-of-WISDOM….blessings….cjlb..3/31/15

About Charles Brooks

who is originally from Miami, Fla., moved to SC, holds two degrees from the University of SC. His business background is primarily in Real Estate Development (Motels, Hotel, Office Buildings, Restaurants, Residential) and Business Consulting. He currently is Managing Director of Brooks, Baker, Lehman & Kohlhepp - Investors in Real Estate and Mining, and has other business interests under the umbrella of Brooks Properties. FULL-TIME-MINISTRY: Fully engaged in spreading the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on the Business Community.

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