Saturday, October 13, 2007


[inspired by the Weekend Wordsmith prompt "Whatever"]

Expressions seem to come and go with the times. I remember in early high school the expression "how bad!" but I can't seem to remember what we meant by it. We even translated it into Spanish (the only language my high school offered) and for one summer, a lot of us were saying, "que mal!"

A friend of mine in high school turned "whatever floats your boat" (something we would never say) into "whatever flicks your Bic" (we obviously watched too many TV commercials), and then into "whatever flicks your beezer." Since that last one sent us into fits of giggles, we kept it around for a long time. It still sneaks out once in a while, to which my current coworkers say, "what!?"

The ones that come from "inside jokes" seem to last longer. Otherwise we would pick up phrases from TV, or from movies, use them a while, then discard them.

We never had the courage (or stupidity) to tell our parents, "The devil made me do it!" the way we heard Flip Wilson (as Geraldine) say.

We did tell each other, "Never mind!" compliments of Gilda Radner's Emily Litella and we we tempted to call someone a "wild and crazy guy" thanks to Steve Martin.

And there are so many regional expressions. Using "wicked" to mean "very" was new to me when I arrived in New England in the 1980's.

There is currently an upswing in the use of the word "dude" by folks I know who never set one bare foot on a surfboard. And I find that I've picked it up. I am happy, though, in the knowledge that this expression, too, is temporary.

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