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Posts Tagged ‘old people speak’

Old Man Word 88: Fuss

Let’s say you go visit a friend.  Your friend is obliged to ask if you “need anything.”   You are required to say, “don’t worry about it” or — if you’re old — “don’t make a fuss.”  Politeness dictates your friend say something like “it’s no problem.”  Now you are free to ask for a beverage or light snack provided it is neither expensive nor time-consuming; like a beer or a Jack and Coke.  Asking for a blended strawberry margarita with Patron?  No.  That is expensive and time-consuming to make (in addition to massively vaginal).

This is the “Fuss Code of Honor.”

Old people don’t get this.  Or, if they do get it, they have no compunction about violating it.  To the cooters the “fuss-response” is carte-blanche for them to demand you perform whatever menial/disgusting task they need done.  In their mind the “it’s no bother” response is blanket amnesty.  Here’s an example:

Grandson:  Grandma, do you need anything?

Grandma:  Oh don’t make a fuss about me, I’m fine.

G’son:  No really, it’s not a problem. What would you like?

G’ma:  I’ll take a ham-salad sandwich and a butt-wipe.  I just soiled myself.

See that, a total violation of the Fuss Code of Honor.  And now, because you’re polite, and because you’ve already proclaimed that whatever they want is “not a problem,” you’re stuck grinding ham and wiping Grandma’s butt.

They’re rude bastards.  No doubt about it.

Fuss. n.

1. needless activity and worry
2. old person pleasantry indicating their intention to ask you to waste your afternoon performing revolting tasks that will scar you psychologically.

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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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