Old Man Word 94: Gas

Old Man Word 94: Gas

The eld think it’s cool to use the word “gas” in place of the word “fun.”  Anything an old person thinks is cool must, by implication, be the opposite; that is, lame.  Thus if you hear someone describe something as a “gas” you may properly conclude that:

a.  The event is lame; and

b.  The speaker is lame.

Indeed, the word is one of only two that fall in the category “Words that Induce Feelings Directly Opposite to the Word’s Intended Meaning and Cast Aspersions on the Speaker by Virtue of the Speaker’s Use of Said Word.”  The other word in this camp is the word “hip.”  Hip isn’t technically an old-man word but it is highly suspect as an affirmation of coolness.  After a comprehensive analysis I have determined that anyone who calls something hip is too out of touch to be capable of rendering judgment about the hip/coolness of anything.

If this is too complex for you please review the following dialogue from my new play “Hopeless Bores“:

Lady:  I like those shoes on you.

Man:  Why thank you.  I think they make me look hip.

Lady:   That is impossible.  Your use of the word ‘hip’ renders you incapable of being hip.  You are not hip.

Man:  Very astute.  But cannot the same conclusion be made of you in light of your use of the word hip vis-a-vis me?

Lady:  Point well taken.   Our mutual use of the word hip indicates that neither of us is, indeed, hip.

Man:  What about the shoes?

Lady:  The fact that we who are not hip believe they are hip is strong evidence they are not hip.

Man:  I will put them back.

Okay look, the dialogue is a little stiff but you get the point: calling something hip means you — and it — aren’t.

The same is true of the word gas.  Once you say something is a gas, the immediate connotation is that you are a dork (therefore incapable of knowing if something is a “gas”) and the event is stodgy and horrible (thus it is not a “gas”).  Here’s an example, from the elders of rock themselves, the Rolling Stones:

Jumpin jack flash, its a gas! gas! gas!
Jumping jack flash, its a gas
Jumping jack flash, its a gas
Jumping jack flash, its a gas
Jumping jack flash, its a gas

Has there ever been anything that sounds less like a “gas” than whatever the hell this jumping jack flash thing is?  I’m not sure what they were trying to accomplish but after hearing that song I have absolutely no intention of jumping with the jack flash, jumping in a jack flash fashion, jumping over whatever the fuck jack flash is or engaging in any activity that requires me to jump, jack, or flash. 

Maybe if the Stones said the jumping jack flash stuff was “awesome” I’d do it but, alas, they didn’t.  They called it a gas. 

And gas is old man talk.  

And old man talk sucks.

Gas. n.

1.  a fluid (as air) that has neither independent shape nor volume but tends to expand indefinitely

2.  gasoline ; also : the accelerator pedal of an automotive vehicle

3.  old man word intended to indicate pleasure or delight but which, by virtue of the disrepute of the speaker, is probably really terrible or boring (e.g., we had a gas at that trout expo, didn’t we Gertrude?)


Old Man Word 95: Sam Hill

Old people truly despise this guy Sam Hill.  Of course — in typical old man fashion — they have no basis for their ire.  Some folk think he was a guy who ran for office in the 1700’s (a durned politician!)  Another Sam Hill was an advocate for “good roads.”  (Some kinda do-gooder!)  Nobody actually knows.  But facts have never stopped the elderly from getting angry and poor Sam Hill is no exception.   Whoever he was the consensus is clear:

He was the devil.

That’s right, “Sam Hill” is old man for the devil or hell.   The most common context of the Sam Hill derision is the phrase “what in Sam Hill” which basically means “what the hell?”  Some of the brassier old timers will sass things up with the occasional “where in Sam Hill” which roughly translates to “where the hell?”  Of course even among the elderly you have your fringe incontinents who take it too far and thus you end up with the altogether cheeky “who in Sam Hill?”  You can recognize this gauche lot by their efforts to squire old widows and their insistence on adding salt to their mashed potatoes.

Why old-timers gotta confuse things by saying “Sam Hill” may seem a mystery but probably stems from their annoying habit of obfuscating everything.  Old people suffered far too many cuffs on the ears to say cusses like “hell” so they gussy it up with prattle like “Sam Hill.”   It’s irritating but that’s par for the course.

On to the definition:

Sam Hill. n.

  1. Euphemism for hell or the devil; used to add emphasis to expressions of outrage, e.g., “what in Sam Hill?”
  2. Way for old people to pretend they aren’t swearing.

One final note: Don’t go off sliding “Sam Hill” into every sentence where you’d normally say hell.  Even an old man will think you’re a durned fool if you say something like “give em’ Sam Hill” or try to polite up AC/DC’s classic tune by calling it “Sam Hill’s Bells.”  Just stick with the stock phrases and try not to heap more scorn on poor old Sam Hill.


Short post today, sorry.  It’s my birthday and I decided to spend it watching a documentary on “Le Cirque.”  An exceptionally weak documentary in case you care.

Old Man Word 96: Dadgummit

Nobody likes a cliche’. The most irksome of all cliches are found in bad dialogue; when the writer relies on stereotypical catch-phrases to convey the tropes of the character. Here are a few examples:

  • The New Joisey goomba who tells a compatriot to “fuhgeddaboutit.” (Why that must be an Italian-American with a quick temper but a heart o-gold!)
  • The African-American kid who ignores the homework given by his bushy-eyed teacher because all he cares about are “Dead Presidents.” (I suspect that jaded gangster will come to realize life ain’t all about bitches and money.)
  • Craps players call for a “seven!” (Okay this last one doesn’t quite fit but it’s a major pet peeve of mine; no one who plays craps gets excited about the even-money prospects of a seven, I assure you).

At first bi-focul’ed glance, dadgummit would seem a natural addition to this unseemly list.  A word so stereotypical and comical it sounds almost fake.  Which it is:

Dadgummit. interj or n.

  1. Euphemism for Goddamnit.
  2. A word invented by a Hollywood scriptwriter and uttered by Walter Brennan as he portrayed Gran’pa Amos McCoy on the sitcom “The Real McCoys.”

Imagine the scene.  A group of script writers are sitting around a table figuring out how to make a character they call “Gran’pa Amos McCoy” appear even more hickish and ig’nant than his name suggests.  They make him wear coveralls.  They hire an actor with no teeth.  They make him hold a jug of “XXX” moonshine.  Not good enough.  So they pick up their dictionaries and say “let’s give him a real stupid catchphrase.”  After reviewing the 250,000 or so words made available by the English language, they throw up their hands, yell “fuck it,” and invent a word adequate to convey his backassness:


In many ways the word is the most stereotypical of all.  The mere mention invokes the instant image of a chair-rocking, porch-settin’, shack-livin’, banjo-fishing-system-usin’ hick.  But unlike the gangsters, jersey goombas, and gamblers, old people actually say dadgummit.  They aren’t embarrassed, they aren’t trying to be “ironic,” they aren’t trying to do anything but scoop tapioca into their craws.  Hollywood invents a fake “ignorant” word and the timers latch on like it’s their last relative leaving the nursing home on Christmas morning.

This is unprecedented.

Do black midgets ask people “Whatchutalking’bout?”  Do teen detectives express surprise by saying “zoinks?”  Do bikers raise their thumbs, buy shares in burger joints, and say “aay!”

No.  They don’t.

Item of evidence number 408 in support of my case that old people suck your honor.

Old Man Word 97: Fopdoodle

The first three posts on this site have started off with a little soliloquoy tangentially relevant to the term I’m “defining.” (If you’ve read those posts you’ll get why the quotes are necessary). We doing this one a little different, giving you the definition up front. Here’s the 1828 – yes, you heard it – definition of “fopdoodle,” a word pert’near so perfectly old-manish it must have been invented by God himself (the oldest of old men):

Fopdoodle. n.

1.  An insignificant fellow. [Vulgar and not used.]

1828 Definition of a Fopdoodle

I have to be honest with this one. Even amongst the large-diapers set, “fopdoodle” is pretty quaint. It hasn’t been removed from the dictionary – so some old mother must use the term – but chaps who say “fopdoodle” are dandies. Swells. Persnickety snoots too big for their urine-soaked britches. Uppity fops.

Wait a cotton-pickin’ minit…

I actually typed that without realizing the connection (I never claimed to be an etymologist, back off).  I did me a little researching and it looks like fopdoodle is a derivation of the word “fop.”  Apparently in the time of Shakespeare (King Lear) a fop was “a fool” but the word evolved to mean a ridiculous dresser.  Fop spawned a number of spin-offs including fopling, foppet, foppotee, and Three’s a Fop but fopdoodle, for some reason, retained the original meaning: a fool.

Wow, isn’t that interesting?  (Yawn).

One last note.  Whatever you think of fopdoodle it’s astounding the word was considered “vulgar” in 1828.  Not to sound like – well, like an old man frankly – but damn how the world has changed.  In 1828, calling one a fopdoodle earned you a giant “F” on your pantaloons.  In 2008, snot-assed twelve year olds call their moms “c*nty-biatches” on Dr. Phil because they wanna make money selling their flabby asses.  It’s enough to make one think the elders might be right with their “things used to be better ….” rants.



Back on Monday with more old man words.

Old Man Word 98: Cock

Old Man Word 98: Cock

Old people do not have sex (thank God).  Their parts are shriveled and flaccid and baggy.  The Government would never condone such shenanigans.  Indeed, is this not why we have a Government, to ensure that old people do not gross out their fellow humans by engaging in sex?  Yes.  Yes it is.

The law on this stuff is pretty clear but not widely understood. Because sex is a private matter one is forbidden from knowing all the details about other folks.  However one can – with a little math prowess – determine when their own parents stopped having sex.  All you need to know is the following:

i. The age when you, the victim, first learned that humans engage in sexual intercourse (VA); and
ii. The differential between your age and the age of your parents, e.g., the perpetrators of the sick endeavor (PA).

Plug those numbers into the following equation:

(CA) – (VA) – One Day = No More Sex

See how that works? I was 12 when I first learned about sex (precocious lad, I tell you).  For simplicity sake, let’s assume my Mother is 26 years older than me. Using the above equation I have determined that she stopped having sex at the age of 37 years and 364 days.  I know this because my mother is a law-abiding citizen and I know this because, unlike your mother, mine is not a whore.  Also, once I learned about the sex, I asked my Mom to quit it with that business and I am certain she dutifully obeyed.

Back to old people and cocks.

Even though oldersters don’t get jiggy like me and you, they do mention “cocks” a lot.  The mere mention of cocks by the eld’ is so distasteful the standard reaction is to call the President or the Governor or to effect a citizen’s arrest, no one blames you.  Hopefully by learning more about old timers’ misuse of the term “cock” you can spare yourself valuable cell minutes and/or an FBI investigation. Here’s the definition:

cock. n.

1. faucet consisting of a rotating device for regulating flow of a liquid;
2. adult male chicken;
3. obscene terms for penis.

That’s right, once upon a time a “cock” was a rooster and/or some sort of inexplicable flow-control device.  This is similar to the word “pussy” – which once meant a cat.  Thus when old people weren’t chasing off horse thieves or panning for gold, it was considered perfectly acceptable to say things like “that cock-a mine is huge” or “hairless pussies look funny.”  It was also fine to call Herbert Hoover a wisenheimer.

No longer.

You see, round about the 1950’s, Elvis came along and did the hip-shaking stuff which led to pharmaceutical companies having the notion to create birth control which led to premarital sex.  In fact the kids were having so much goddamn premarital sex they literally got bored with calling penises “penises” and vaginas “vaginas” and decided they needed to co-opt some new words for their unmentionables.  I don’t know the particulars but evidently a committee of cool kids was formed and various options were suggested.  “Weiner” was too obvious, “pecker” had a bit of a rough vibe to it, and “tool” was already being used to describe the kind of people who weren’t “hip” to the promiscuity groove.  Thus the kids settled on “cock.”

Unfortunately no one bothered to send the old people the memo and so they continue to unabashedly disabuse the term.

Although, to be frank, they probably couldn’t have read it anyway without their readers and a magnifying glass; which they lost of course.

Old Man Word 99: The Grippe

Once upon a time folks were accursed by some affliction called the “grippe.” Strangely you don’t hear much about the grippe these days; you might assume it was miraculously cured.  Like the polio or the unwanted children.  Not so.  Like 85% of the weird diseases your grandparents battled in their youths, the grippe was just another name for the flu or, as I like to call the flu, a cold.

grippe. n.

1.  influenza, epidemic catarrh, flu
2.  scary sounding synonym for flu used by old people to make youngsters believe life was tougher back in the olden days.

The grippe is not alone.  Old timers have a litany of scary sounding terms used to describe the runny-noses they nursed next to grandmere’s hearth.  Grandma durn near died of the dropsy back in ought-eight.  The whole town was accursed by a case of the fits.  Cover up with that afghan or you’re like to catch a chillblain.  Poor Mertle, she never was the same after the croup.  Stay inside, the frogg is spreading!  Leave me here, I’m all corrupted.

All of these terms mean the same thing: somebody had a runny nose.

Esther Never Did Ride the Same After She Caught The Dropsy

You'd Ride Side-Saddle Too If'n You Caught The Dropsy Like Little Imogene

Take the “consumption.”  The consumption sounds horrific.  Was the victim eaten by an unholy alliance of maggots and algae?  Did it make a fella so hungry he ate himself to death; powerless to stop the evil compulsions of … The Consumption?  Terrifying.  Of course Grandpa would never fill in the details.  He’d just mutter something like: “Yessir, the ‘sumption took two kids in my neighborhood and near to caught me as well.”

(Side note: it’s always “some kid in the neighborhood,” never any verifiable source).

Later I learned “The Consumption” is “Old-Man” for Tuberculosis.  Not that TB is a disease one wishes to court but it’s a hell of a lot better than catching … The Consumption.  Plus it’s curable.  To this day no one over 80 will publicly admit The Consumption is curable.  TB?  Sure.  The Consumption?  Not a chance.

Two more points you must know about the elderly if you insist on speaking to them:

One, old people love to indiscriminately toss around the ‘The’s’ if given half a chance.  They shop at The Wal-Mart, eat at The Dennys, and fear The Consumption.  Don’t bother fighting it.

Two, old people refuse to adopt the modern names of diseases, as shown above.  If the disease is new they will intentionally mispronounce the name.  If you don’t think this is true walk into an old folks’ home and bring up Alzheimer’s disease (preferably with someone who is not afflicted with the ailment).  They will promptly correct you and let you know it’s called “Old Timers.”

“Old-timers.”  You will say, shaking your head.

“It’s mighty awful.”  Granny will respond.

“I meant you.”

Old Man Word 100: Two-Bits

My first encounter with “bits” as a measure of currency was in a mini-mart/bait shop.  Since it was a bait shop you can guess the age of the man working the counter: old.  I didn’t need bait, I needed candy.  Codger working the counter said the price for my Twix bar was “four-bits.”  I had a dollar bill, I said, no “bits.”  The coot snorted, muttered, snickered, and went back to reading Trout Digest.  I left empty-handed and angry.  Angry at old people and angry at trout and angry at these mysterious things called bits.

In time I learned that two bits is old man speak for a quarter.  Four-bits is old man sputter for fifty cents.  From the foregoing you may have deduced — correctly — that there is a direct linear relationship between bits and quarters so I’ll leave it to you to figure out what six bits is (hint: it’s seventy-five cents).  Here’s the formal definition for you:

two-bit. adj.

1. Informal Costing or worth 25 cents: a two-bit cigar.

2. Word used by old people to demonstrate intellectual inferiority of eight year old candy-loving kids.

If you’re the kind of twerp who Wikipedias stuff like this, you probably know that the phrase two-bits originated in colonial times when Spanish dollars were commonly carved up into eight pieces (thus a quarter being two slices of said spanish dollar, e.g., “two bits”). Since even the oldest of old timers isn’t pushing two-hundred-fifty years of elderliness, this fact does not explain why quarters — which come in handy, silver-colored singular units — are called “two-bits.”   Blame for that silliness must be lain at the feet of a crummy song written in the thirties called “Shave and a Haircut.”  Shave and a Haircut has been described as the shortest song ever written.  It has also been described as horrible.  Here are the words if you aren’t familiar:

Shave and a Haircut.  Two bits.

The taunting lyrics of that diddy have spawned a generation of angry cooters.  Not only does it remind them of their youths, when ice cream cones were a nickel and a good blow-job could be hud for a dime, the contrast between the lyrics of yesterday and today illustrate why it sucked to be born fifty years ago.

Songs today are about ass fucking.  Songs of the nineties were about standard fucking.  Songs of the eighties were about “having sex.”  Songs of the seventies were about making love.  Songs of the sixties hinted about the fact that the kids were probably making love, usually in the back of some American-made, gas-hog, muscle-car.  Songs of the fifties were about necking.  Songs of the forties were about dancing with a purty gal.

Songs of the thirties, apparently, were about getting a good deal on a quality hair cut.

No wonder old people are pissed.