Friday, April 18, 2014

Out of phase

Michael W. Davis

I was talking to a young computer wizard about problems with my laptop other day when I used the term CPU. It was clear from her response that I was talking a foreign language. See, our language evolves. Terms, phases, slang is born, tossed into social chit chat for a decade or so, then dies out. Least for the new generations. Not for us old timers. We are accumulators of out of phase terms that latch onto our brain, travel with us for sixty or seventy years until we transfer to the next realm. Here’s a few examples. See how many you know, without cheating and using a web search. I’ll give you the answers later.

CPU, CRT, Peanut galley, Ah che wa wa, Gams, Pluck you magic pwanger froggy, real Mc Coy, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, Juke joint, Gig, big brother, groovy, the man, tripping, Acid, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, get down, pump iron, a man’s guns, wicked, SWAK, hang tough, fuzz, diss, five finger discount, PDA, rinky dink, skirt, peeps, watching the submarine races, ape, zilch, paper shaker, fox, Chinese fire drill, moon, crash, take a whiz, boomer, rug rat, grubs,  Smokey, chalk time, church key, Crocked, deuce and a quarter, deb’s delight

Okay, had enough? Here’s what they mean. Sure, there can be many meanings for different areas, but these are what they meant from my memory:

CPU – Central Processing Unit, as in the computers active memory
CRT – Cathode Ray Tube, as in your TV or computer screen
Peanut galley – The kids seated in the audience of the buffalo Bob show
Ah che wa wa – Refers to a hot, I mean steamy hot woman
Gams – a ladies legs
Pluck you magic pwanger froggy – An old kids show of the 50’s had a bullfrog that would say it all the time, have no idea what it was supposed to mean
Real Mc coy – as in the real thing, not a fake
I’ll be a monkey’s uncle – Sign of disbelief
Juke joint – a place where you could go to socialize, drink and dance
Gig – a job
Big Brother – Someone of authority is watching you. Came from Orwell’s book 1984. Seems with our current government it’s come back in vogue (g)
Groovy – Hip, cool, excellent
The man – an authority figure
Tripping – Consuming drugs to get high
Acid – In the 60’s reference to LSD
Lucy in the sky with diamonds – Again a reference to LSD. From the Beatles song. Seems my generation did a lot of tripping
Get down – Dance
Pump iron – Lift weights
A man’s guns – reference to the muscles in a guy’s arms
Wicked – Excellent
SWAK – Sealed with a kiss
Hang tough – To endure
Fuzz - cops
Diss – show disrespect
Five finger discount – something stolen
PDA – Public display of affection
Rinky Dink – Something that’s trivia
Skirt – a girl
Peeps – friends
Watching the submarine races – Parking, as in making out
Ape – as in being hysterical
Zilch – zero, nothing
Paper shaker – Cheer leader
Fox – hot babe
Chinese fire drill – when you stop a car and everyone gets out to exchange seats
Moon – Driving down the road, sticking your butt out the window toward another car (yeah, I did this one)
Crash – sleep
Take a whiz – go to the bath room
Boomers – those born after the war (46-64)
Rug rats – little kids
Grubs – old comfortable clothes
Smokey – cops
Chalk time – lecture in school
Church Key – A device to old beer cans before pop tops
Crocked – drunk
Deuce and a quarter – A Buick Electra 225
Deb’s delight – Eligible bachelor

There’s hundreds more out there and I know you’re thinking, “what’s this got to do with writing.” Well, if your setting is in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s,  then grab a few oldie out of phase terms , toss ‘em in, and add some realism. Oh, you want to know which generation they’re from? Oh no. You have to figure that out for yourself. However, I do go way back and was a hormone driver dude in the 60’s so most are from that era.


Liz Fountain said...

Love it! Take a listen to John Hiatt's song "Detroit Made." First line: "I got me a deuce and a quarter baby, she can ride all night." Terrific tune and a fun post!


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I'm ashamed to say I recognized everyone of those sayings. I'm from so far back then in the yesteryears, the I never say "back in the day"!

Big Mike said...

Me too, ladies. I came up with this post when my grand daughter was having breakfast with a few old timer friends and keep asking, "what's that mean?" Made me realize how out of whack I am to today's world.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)