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Humor August 2016

The Old Gal

Groovy Words That Make You Sick

By Anne Ashley

Not that I didn’t want to be “with it” ... but coming from a family of five children, two emotionally exhausted parents, an antiquated and always present grandmother, and an endless assortment of Catholic hierarchy about the place, I found it difficult enough to be heard, let alone, understood ... I didn’t want to risk using up my all too brief window of opportunity on having to explain that “bitch n’” was actually meant as a compliment before getting slapped for swearing at my sainted grandmother!

Even in my youth I was never one for using modern slang or colloquialisms when speaking with my gang – or my elders. I never thought things were “groovy” or “far out” like everyone else did. I never used the word “cool” to express interest in something or someone and I was never ever, not once in all my youth, able to “dig it.” I wasn’t “hip”; I didn’t call everyone “cat” or think things were “outta sight” when they were clearly right in front of me.

Not that I didn’t want to be “with it” ... but coming from a family of five children, two emotionally exhausted parents, an antiquated and always present grandmother, and an endless assortment of Catholic hierarchy about the place, I found it difficult enough to be heard, let alone, understood. Being granted attention (more often than not, it would have been negative attention for misbehavior – but hey, I took it) was not to be squandered by scrambling the elder brain with modern hip-talk. I didn’t want to risk using up my all too brief window of opportunity on having to explain that “bitch-n’” was actually meant as a compliment before getting slapped for swearing at my sainted grandmother!

Did I mention that dear old grandmamma was always around? And not only was she rigidly strict but that woman had an infuriating knack for showing up just as the proverbial poo was about to hit the inevitable fan. Now, granted, I gave her plenty of opportunities – I regularly spent about 9 months out of every year grounded for one infraction or another, missing a few birthdays, a couple of Christmases and an Easter or two incarcerated in my room while others celebrated.

But sure as daylight followed night, there she’d be when trouble loomed over my cherubic little head, with her disappointed face and wagging finger. On one of these many many many occasions I recall her interrupting my mother’s scolding to interject her verdict on my ruination when I bravely suggested that perhaps this wasn’t any of her business and maybe she’d like to retire to another room while Mother and I discussed my violation and a fitting penalty … or, words to that effect. I do believe I can still hear the ringing in my left ear from the wallop that earned me.

Anyway, where was I …?

Oh yes, fast forward to modern-day language – and it’s pretty much the same. Today’s youth speak in idioms, made-up words and all manner of slang to express feelings and intentions. I now know why my parents thought we kids were such a drag. However, unlike the innocent and happening jargon of my day, this generation’s concocted language is the reinvention of Latin!

Somehow, insults are now compliments. The word “sick” is confusingly used to describe something outstanding, “fat” used to pronounce a thing as exceptional, and “dope” meant to imply that it’s all gooood. I may not have used my generation’s slang but at least the words were facing in the right direction!

And despite morals, manners and all-round behavior being far more relaxed today than in my youth and everyone using the contradictory expressions – not just the young’uns, I got into enough trouble as it was, without succumbing to hippy-talk. I don’t even want to imagine the hullabaloo I’d cause by attempting to chat using backward and inconsistent vernaculars. The likelihood of unintentionally calling someone fat or disgusting or sick when I meant to convey my pleasure at their company is not only real, it’s dangerous.

I was ahead of my time or intuitive, I’m not sure which for knowing that I was incapable of rapping with the hip cats of yore. But today it’s just pure survival instinct. And as humorous as it is to imagine telling granny that her Easter bonnet is sick or dope (humorous, only because she’s been gone long enough now for me not to twitch every time I hear her name mentioned) it still makes me cringe to think of how these inconsistencies would have been received in my day. I'm pretty sure the response I’d get for telling the ecclesiastic gathering that, I'm gonna “chillax” with my “BAE” and “get lit with a fat one” – would not only result in me being grounded for the foreseeable, but possibly even an exorcism.

 

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