Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Date Me

No, not that kind of date.

I took one of those goofy online quizzes the other day, one that was supposed to guess my age based on my responses. The test guessed I was 24. Hell, my kids are older than that!

It got me thinking - it really is easy to date a person, based on their slang as well as their social literacy.

For instance, say "Wood or wire?" to many of my high school friends and they'll instantly picture Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson throwing Benjamin Braddock into a stammering mass of nerves. From the same movie, "You're missing a great effect!" (I saw The Graduate seven times in a row - I still can recite most of it by heart.)

The movies we watched, the books we read, the music we listened to, the makeup and clothes we wore - these things firmly place my contemporaries and I in the 1960s. I was swept up in the tide of Beatlemania and the British Invasion when I was eleven or twelve, and I'm still loyal to those bands today. At the time, despite the Kennedy assassination - all the assassinations - despite Viet Nam and the Establishment railing against long hair and short skirts, it was still a magical time. There was something in the air, a sense that, as Dylan said, the times they were a-changing. We thought it was the greatest decade ever.

Bell bottoms are laughed at now but I loved my bells and they were very comfortable, too. I craved Yardley's Marty Quant-themed make-up, as modeled by Jean Shrimpton, and whenever I had a little money I'd rush over to Jewel and buy a lipstick or eyeshadow. I can still remember what those Slicker lipsticks tasted like!

My youth was also framed by advertising jingles and songs from TV shows: the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, "It's Howdy Doody Time," "Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they're a modern stone-age family...", dum-de-de-dum Bon-an-za! (I liked Adam best, how about you?) and right along with that, "See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet...", and then there was the Oscar Meier Weiner Whistle and Charlie Tuna and Trix are for kids, and how many others??

I still have fond memories of the Sixties, but the slang? Did we really say things like feeling groovy, psychedelic, It's a gas (as in "Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas"), far out, outta site, what a drag, etc? Oh yes, we did. There was a whole vocabulary tied to the suburban weed culture - as in marijuana, not the more hard core drugs: words like head shop, roach, doobie, toke and more. 

We didn't drink beer or wine (unless you count Boone's Farm) - the cocktail du jour was a Harvey Wallbanger. That drink - or the Galliano liqueur used in the recipe - made me gag. I can't stomach cilantro, and, to me, Galliano was like cilantro in alcoholic form. I remember a friend squeezing the remains of her Harvey Wallbanger from a rag-rug back into her glass after spilling it. (I was more of a Southern Comfort girl - I favored Southern Comfort Sours, but I don't think I would have squeezed one from a rug.)

What drives me nuts is my inability to shed the slang I learned as a child - and "drives me nuts" is one of those phrases. Luckily, "neato" and "keeno" bit the dust around the time I started junior high, but "cool" is still with me. And now "awesome," a word from my kids' high school years, has latched onto my vocabulary, too.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)Where we had jocks and greasers, the cliques at my kids' school were geeks, skaters, goths and others I can't recall. When my granddaughter reaches high school age, cliques will still be around, I'm sure, but with different names to define them. 

How about you? What dates you? What slang words have stuck from your childhood, and what jingles can you still sing with the slightest prompting? I've got a Howdy Doody earworm stuck in my head now - please, give me another tune to focus on!


Stacy McKitrick said...

I liked Little Joe the best (mainly because I saw Michael Landon in person (dressed as Little Joe) and as he made his way through the crowd to get to the stage, my dad made sure to push him into me so I could say I touched him!).

As for slang words? Does okey dokey count? I still use that.

Becke Davis said...

Stacy - Funny you should mention Little Joe. When I was pregnant with my son, we asked my daughter (who was three) what names she liked. Her favorite TV shows were Hart to Hart and Highway to Heaven. We went with her choice - Jonathan! (That was the name of Michael Landon's character in Highway to Heaven, also the name of Jonathan Hart.)

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