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Friday, June 11, 2010

Wherein Pearl -- Hark! -- Reminisces

Pearl has, in an effort to distance herself from the sorrow of having discovered her home laptop with its head in the oven, will be referring to herself in the third person for the purposes of this post.

Please know that she is well and resting comfortably, despite the treasonous behavior of her beloved but clearly depressed computer.

Her head is swimming. Is there something she could’ve done?

But why ask ourselves when there are so many options, so many ways to dispose of personal responsibility! Why, just this morning, she was thinking, “I can’t wait until Friday when my iPod will tell me what I can expect from the weekend!”

Because it’s true! It’s reasonably, arguably, possibly true that Friday morning’s playlist, well shuffled and taken aurally, will tell you what is in your immediate future.

Hey Eugene by Pink Martini
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
Dirty Harry by Gorillaz
Grace by Jeff Buckley
Silver by Pixies
The Other Side by Morphine*

Colorful, iddin it? What it means, however? Pearl has no idea.

We have time for a quick thought, if you have a moment…

My friend Erin’s grandma wonders where all the jalopies have gone, insists that there are, nowadays, no jalopies.

And outside of the fact that she lives in one of the finer, wealthier areas of Chicago and a jalopy would be as out of place there as a couple of dogs humping at a polo match, I don’t know that anyone calls them “jalopies” anymore…

Ergot, Erin’s grandma is right: there are no jalopies.

Junkers? Hoopdies? Beaters with Heaters? We have plenty of those, we’ve just run out of jalopies.

The world of words marches on.

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?

Grandma had a sister-in-law whose nickname growing up was “Puss” because she was such a pretty little girl. “A pretty face, just like a little cat,” Grandma said.

But now? Calling someone "Puss"? Them’s fightin’ words.

My grandmother used to serve us “nectar”, aka “fruit juice”. She was also known to have “warshed” the car (rather than “washing” it) and say thing like “oh, for land’s sake” and “might as well, can’t dance”.

She also served “dinner” at lunchtime and “supper” at, well, what we now call “dinner”.

It gets very confusing. I have diagram I could show you later.

Hark! So many words we no longer say. So many meanings that have changed since their initial use. So much is specific to a generation that then goes away with them, once that generation is gone.

And that’s a shame, because if there’s one thing I could use nowadays would be a nice cool glass of Grandma's nectar.


* Are you sure you’re getting enough dark, honkin’ baritone sax solos in your life? You’re not?! Don’t forget to take a listen to “The Other Side”. Mark Sandman of Morphine died several years ago while touring in Europe (which is why I – ahem – never tour Europe) but the music is timeless.

27 comments:

Kr√ęg said...

"Breaksfasts" was/is one of my grandmother's favorites. One addtional S was not enough.

"Katy bar the door" is another one that I only hear from wrinkled lips.

I listened to "Scratch" by Morphine many times right after my divorce.

Pearl said...

Kreg, I love Morphine. The band. Not to be confused with the drug. Unless you're in a lot of pain... I didn't sleep well last night. Can you tell?

Another one you only hear from the elderly is "might as well, can't dance". I've always wondered about that one.

"Katy bar the door". I really like that.

Charlie said...

Off topic, mainly becaause my brain is unfunctional at 7:16 a.m.

When I saw your visage on my follower's list, I knew I'd seen it before. But of course, at Map's and Jimmie B's, the latter whom will rise again in a bloggerly manner.

You are one funny girl, but much better looking than either Fanny Brice or Barbra. I NEED a daily dose of humor, so onto my sidebar you go.

Pearl said...

Why Charlie! How kind of you. And I love the Funny Girl reference.

You mention Jimmie. You know, I actually felt his departure keenly, almost personally. It was strange, to go from looking forward to reading someone to having them "disappear". I suddenly realized that despite how close he seemed, reading his words, inhaling his images, that he was actually very, very far away.

I miss a man I've never met!

Welcome, Charlie. Glad to meet you.

Sweet Cheeks said...

In our family...when Gramma referred to 'nectar' she was referring to moonshine.

Off limits to the youngins'!
=]

Pearl said...

Sweet Cheeks, well that shines a different light on it, doesn't it?!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Thank goodness we got all those jalopies off the road! Come to think of it, does anyone "thank goodness" these days? A funny thing about my own old-ish expressions is that the 2- and 3-year-old grandkids pick them right up. It's hilarious to hear oneself through them!

a Broad said...

I am sick. I have a cough ..hack hack ... I am reading this to get my mind off of coughing... so now I am laughing and coughing .. Gee, thanks alot Pearl!!

I grew up in the South.. Dinner was lunch and Supper was Dinner.. crazy Suthreners !

I used to drink Peach nectar and gramma made cobblers. sigh ...

a Broad said...

Wanna hear something Sad ?
When I clicked on Morphine ( which I could use right now) it told me they won't let me listen to it In This Country !

Jodie Kash said...

I had to Google "jalopy."

I love that the English, when serving coffee, ask, “Black or white?” meaning without or with cream. Smart and pithy.

furiousBall said...

ahh, i love you more every time you post your music posts. morphine and jeff buckley :)

Beta Dad said...

I saw Morphine at a club in Charlottesville, VA in 1993 or so. Such a great show. Who would have guessed that a bari sax, a bass, and vocals could make for such a full sound and compelling performance.

My mom is full of sayings that I used to think everyone was familiar with. Finally, by the time I got to college, I realized no one knew what I was talking about when I said, "coals to Newcastle," or "enough blue to make a Dutchman's pants," or "busman's holiday."

Jon said...

Not everyone dies while touring Europe and the causal link is far from proven. Though, frankly, I'd never encourage anyone to visit Austria unless they had first made a will.

I'm sorry about Pearl's laptop. But it has gone to a better place where phishing and firewalls are unknown, and we should be thankful for that.

Plus I'm sure she backed up everything. Didn't she?

Sam Liu said...

For the duration of this comment, Sam shall be referring to himself in the third person as he too has been having laptop problems. Sam really enjoyed reading this post and thought that it was, as always, a highly amusing read. Sam thinks your grandmother sounds great! :D

Barbara Blundell said...

I think that jalopies must have met a timely death along with mangles,dolly tubs,possers,clothes maidens,lobbies, parlours and. Ewbank carpet sweepers

powdergirl said...

Hey Girly! Maybe I'm your Grandma, if I'm tired of saying "just one more," when offered that fatally attractive last cocktail of the morning, I often say( because I drink quite often) "Might azsh well, I can't danzshe, and I'm waaayyy to drunk to fly."

I don't know what it means, becasue I can totally dance, and I can fly well enough with one eye covered, but it makes me happy to say it.

I like jalopies on my nachos.

Irisheyes said...

Mary loves the word jalopy!! My stepmother used to always say "Put some swine (Saran) wrap over that pie. It's in the cupboard catty corner from the stove." or "Put that back like it was, it's all catawampus now!"

Pearl said...

Blissed, I love that the children will carry on the traditions!

A Broad, Suthren crazy is a very particular kind of crazy. And sorry you can’t listen to Morphine! How bizarre!

Jodie, we add one word a day. :-)

furiousBall, and so our love affair begins!

Beta Dad, oh, I wish I’d been there! And I’ve heard “coals to Newcastle” but the reference to a Dutchman’s pants? That’s a new one!

Jon, would you believe I have MOST of it saved to a thumb drive? Pearl is not happy about her lack of foresight.

Sam, my grandmother was great: a humble woman with a great capacity for work and patience. :-)

Barbara, whoa there! What? When? What time?!!! I’m smiling all over the place here!

Powdergirl, hey!!! I love your accent. And jalopies on your nachos?! That’s really funny and I am going to work it into the weekend’s conversation if it kills me.

Irisheyes, swine wrap?! How awesome is that?! Man, I just love all these little sayings.

WrathofDawn said...

Oh, lord. I say, 'might as well, can't dance' frequently. Does this mean I am elderly and just don't realize.

My aunt used to tell you to "fire" something into the garbage in stead of "throw."

Here, people don't just go up the stairs, they go up "over" the stairs.

Messy hair? Brooms and mops!

Red hair? Blasty!

If you want to say you're not going to be taken advantage of, you say, "You're not getting over my time!"

But sadly, there are no jalopies here, either. How ya gonna say, "Twenty-three skidoo!" when there's no jalopies?

Bossy Betty said...

I was just working on a post about supper and dinner.

I want to bring back "shank of the evening." Help me, Pearl. It's NOT just a prison term!!!!

Douglas said...

It is possibly sad that I recall many of those expressions from my younger days, as well as the last of the jalopies. No jalopy can have been originally built after 1938. This is because jalopies must have running boards and external headlights. They are finest if they have rumble seats (a term I wondered about in the 50's when "rumble" meant a violent confrontation of mostly teenagers) and are roadsters (precursor to the convertible). They eventually became "hot rods" and became respectable.

"Might's well, can't dance" was one of my favorite early teens' expressions and no, I have no idea what the heck it means.

We did, however eventually learn what to "have moxie" came from.

Damn! I'm getting old.

poosemommy said...

I'm frequently accused of making words up as my husband claims "all Southerners do". I don't give a whit what he says, "whit" is a word. I read it in one of those new-fangled books they're selling nowadays. I've given up and taken to wearing a dictionary like a fanny-pack to prove him wrong.

Plentymorefishoutofwater said...

You really are a legendary blogger. Every post a winner. I hate you!
*Plentymorefishoutofwater - One Man's Dating Diary*

Ruthibelle said...

words really have changed with generations ...

ditto dude above except for the hate part. I heart it.

pegbur7 said...

OK... the jalopies on the nachos made me laugh out loud.

Now that's calling the kettle black is one my mom used a lot and my grandma always said "Well, the lord child!" I never knew what it meant but seemed to have something to do with when you said something that surprised her or that she didnt' believe.

Or "who'd a thunk it"? Well, I never.....

So enjoyed this post.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Have to add one more from my dear departed mom, "Well, saw my legs off and call me shorty!" I try to use it now and then...

Deborah said...

The things that this post makes me thing about! Love that Miss Pearl.

My momma said things like davenport for sofa, dungarees for jeans (to my mortification), slacks for pants. Makes me miss her.

This also made me think about the words my daughters made up when they were teeny-tinys.

One would say that she 'hurt her feelings' every time she bumped her head.

The other would routinely say 'let's backforward the movie, I missed a part.'

You have made my morning!