Posts Tagged ‘old people diseases’

Old Man Word 90: The Itch

Itchiness is a character flaw.  Itching stems from bad hygiene and/or bad women.  I shun the itching and their itching ways.  The very word itch is, to me, the equivalent of the word moist to a woman: awful.

My issue with the word spawns from — who else? — the eld.  While most of us view itch as a verb (“the reaction to various skin conditions”) or an adjective (“a longing or desire”), old people think of itch as a noun.  This is not a noun you want to parley with.  Here’re some examples:

I’m itching ta git my hands on that new outboard. (Fine. Itch as verb.)

He had him an itchy trigger-finger. (Illiterate but acceptable.  Itch as adjective.)

That injun girl gave me the itch. (Yuck.)

You see old people — for all their flaws — are very polite.  This is why they call you a dunderhead instead of an asshole, highfalutin instead of an asshole, and a whippersnapper instead of a fucker.  They’re so accursedly polite they don’t find it proper to talk about diseases like chlamydia, crabs, or gonorrhea.  Instead, they refer to each as merely …

The Itch.

If the list of Itch-seases ended there I might be more forgiving.  But it doesn’t.  Seems “the itch” also refers to something else.  Something so vile one may be forgiven for tossing their Grandma’s Jitterbug on the floor and stepping on it.  That “something else” is set out in this 1950’s ad for Lanocaine:


Yup.  In addition to the common skin disorders, folk also used to suffer from the itchiness of unwashed vaginas and unwiped rectums.  (What they politely call “personal membranes.”).  Unwashed vaginas have never been cool but back in the day we must conject that they were positively revolting (what with the hair and the maxi-pads and all).  The very thought of Grandma spreading slabs of salve on her itchy membranes almost makes me feel sorry for poor castigated Grampa.

That is until I consider that Gramps probably used the Lanacaine to cure his “naughty bits” from whatever it is he caught off that Injun gal.

And, of course, either of the two could have been “itch-scratch-itching” those rectum-membranes right?

It’s enough to make your skin crawl.

Itch.  Multiple usages.

1.   An irritating skin sensation causing a desire to scratch.
2.  A restless desire or craving for something: e.g. an itch to travel.
3.  A disease of the skin caused by old people’s poor hygiene.
4.  STD Grandpas caught from boning “Injuns.”


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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.”

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