Of “Drive Safe”

Road Sign.

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There are certain phrases we all say. Words that function like muscle memory. That are spoken without our brain having any choice in the discussion. So we say them, someone else says the appropriate words in response, and we continue on our way.

The phrase that I’ve been noticing the most, as of late, is drive safe.

“Alright, I’ll see ya later.”

“Bye, drive safe.”

“Okay, bye!”

Why do we say that? Do we honestly think that if we don’t tell them to drive safe that something horrid is going to happen to them? That they’ll be driving along and they’ll think to themselves, I wonder what would happen if I turned the steering wheel really fast – oh wait, I’m supposed to drive safe. That’s not very safe. Thanks friend.

The words are merely a filler, in the way that we ask acquaintances how they’re doing expecting to hear the response, “I’m fine.” Sometimes words are just that, things we say because it’s the cultural norm, it’s expected, and we don’t even realize we do it. So I’ve started saying different words:

“Alright, I’ll see ya later.”

“Bye, drive safe.”

“Damn, I was gonna drive ninety and backwards.”

Or

“Alright, I’ll see ya later.”

“Bye, drive dangerously!”

“Haha …… okay?”

I always get an awkward chuckle in response, suddenly, I’m seen as incredibly witty. And for what? Breaking our prescribed script. Changing up the normal conversation. If we all switched around our dialogue then one day simply saying, “Okay, bye,” would be seen as bizarre.

But what I find the most fascinating is that my changed words have become my script – it’s an inescapable cycle of habit.

Road Sign Swerve

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Of Bizarre Slang

Groovy

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Everyone uses slang, that’s not a shocking declaration. Whether it be the slang of the overall population (such as groovy back in the day), or unique to a small social circle (like my former roommate who referred to awesome things as filthy). Slang is everywhere. Which is fine, I have no ill feelings towards the use of slang, as it does say something about our culture that we won’t fully realize till what’s commonly said changes. And yes, I’m excited look back on movies and records to see how we’ve evolved verbally. But I do have issues with myself, more specifically, when I notice what I’m always saying.

Do you ever find yourself saying a particular word or phrase all the time? And no matter how much you would like to stop saying those words, you frequently catch yourself repeating them over and over until you annoy you? I have. And I must say, little is more frustrating than annoying yourself. At least when someone else is dumb, or is failing to articulate themselves properly, I have the option of walking away. I can’t walk away from me, unless I want to get belligerently drunk and blackout for a night – which, I have zero desire to do.

My whole life at some point I’ve notice my own personal slang, but by the time it changes I can’t remember what the hell it was. You’d think I’d be gleeful that those words were gone, but alas it is equally as annoying to not remember what they were. If for nothing else, reminiscing purposes. It’s like when a songs stuck in your head and then you suddenly forgot what it was. Or when one lyric is playing on repeat and you don’t know what the rest of the words are.

So for that reason, I can’t inform you of The Slang of Sarah’s Past. But I can tell you what I’m saying now: gracious and aiight.

Could there be two more diverse words to frequent my vocabulary? “Gracious,” is something a ninety-year-old lady says to herself whilst simultaneously gasping when seeing a scandalous sight, such as two gays kissing or a girl showing her ankles. “Aiight,” is what wannabe gangsters say when they agree, or are down with something, but they’re too lazy to use real words. By generation alone those two words do not belong together. Yet, my tongue has brought them together in bizarre harmony, often at the same time, “Gracious, that was crazy. Aiight, let’s go!”

I don’t know what my future slang will be, but I promise, whatever my brain settles on will inevitably annoy me – just like it always has.

Notice your own slang yet?

Of Wanting a Pirate Chick, Literally

Little gives me greater pleasure than diving into the literal, especially in realms where a literal interpretation is not appreciated. Take for instance music. I love lyrics, especially hip-hop, not for reasons of their quality but rather how completely absurd they are. In real life if a person walked up to a girl and said her body is crazy and they will tear it up tonight after she goes down on them – they would get slapped across the face and severely pummeled in the lower regions. Not in hip-hop land.

I’ll give you my (current) favorite example.

Remember the song, U and Dat by E-40 that came out awhile ago? If the answer is no, I assume it’s because you saw how the rapper spelled You and That incorrectly and decided it was best not to waste your time. If the answer is yes, did you listen to the lyrics?

E-40’s desires are simple, he wants the girl. It’s a sweet concept in theory, dark nightclub, sexy and sweaty dancing, inevitable lovemaking with a stranger, followed by a convenient “loss” of phone number – the grand ole one night stand.

What’s most interesting is what he notices about the girl, I’ll paraphrase: just want to get to you and that booty, to you and that monkey …. what you gonna do with this pussy? I think the reason for his attraction is quite obvious. It’s not that she’s behaving in a trashy manner wearing little to no clothing, or even that he expects to hook up with her tonight – the girl is clearly a pirate.

She’s got booty, probably a large pirates chest overflowing with gold coins, a pet monkey, and a cat not-so-cleverly named Pussy as a sidekick that she turns to for guidance. Hell, how could you not want to get to know her? So many questions would come to mind when seeing her: how did she become a pirate in the first place, where do you find a pet monkey, and wouldn’t it be more efficient to deposit her booty in a bank rather than lug around a hug chest of treasure?

I know if I were E-40 I would do everything I could to say hello and pet the monkey, maybe even feed it a banana. Plus there’s the reality of treasure, just a handful of coins could wipe away significant debt and buy me an awesome ship. A pirate chick would no doubt capture and hold my attention for quite sometime. I too would want to get to that monkey.

Unfortunately in the music video they went the slutty route as opposed to the pirate interpretation. But I stand by what I said, the girl is a pirate. Yarrr matey.

Of Save the Words

Save the Words screenshot

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I’m officially bummed.

Several months ago my friend mentioned in passing a website entitled Save the Words. A dream site, especially for anyone who has ever said, “Nice word choice,” and meant it. Then, about fifteen minutes ago, I suddenly remembered her telling me of words crying out for us to save them and the option of adopting a word. It sounded glorious.

I regret to inform you that Save the Words.org is now a blank website. After trying various programs (Explorer, Firefox, Chrome) I have come to find that the website is extinct. I even checked the source, which revealed that there was no hidden code. In fact, there’s no HTML code at all. This is why I’m sad.

Now I’m scrapping my brain, trying to remember words that are starting to fade out. A few come to mind, almost all of which are 90s slang and are heard in old hip-hop music:

  • Rump
  • Scrub
  • Baller
  • Boo ya
  • Jiggy
  • It’s your birthday
  • Bust it
  • Da bomb
  • Groovy
  • Bitchin
I really wish I could think of “smart” words to add to the list. Can anyone else remember other words that are dying out?

Of Kitty Kats and Phrases

Cat's Out of the Bag Cartoon

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I love strange word choices. I pull a “Dr. Seuss” and make up my own words or blend two together when I can’t think of one that will suffice.

I’m fascinated by the slang trends unique to various parts of the country. For instance when I lived in Western New York I noticed that everybody abbreviated as much as possible. Example sentence:

“So obvi I totes finish that, but whatevs.” = “So obviously I totally finished that, but whatever.”

I love researching the origin of old and commonly used phrases. Fun fact! Happy as a calm originated from a frontier memoir in 1833. It is thought that the open clam gives the appearance of smiling therefore the phrase came into being.

I love that shit! I guess it comes with the English major territory.

But the phenomenon that I cannot understand is the use of the cat. Cat’s are everywhere in the English language and most stem from England. Here is a list of only a handful of phrases I have come across. For my own amusement, and hopefully yours, I wrote down some of the more interesting origins:

Cat’s got your tongue (100’s of years ago Mideast: It was common punishment for a liar to have their tongue ripped out. The severed tongue was given to the king’s pets as their daily food)

Cats cradle (Early Europe: it was believed that cats could increase the chances of fertility, so they secured a cat in a cradle and newlyweds rocked it back and forth to ensure pregnancy. The string game loosely looks like a cradle)

Quick as a cat

Cool cat

Sly cat

Cat’s out of the bag (Medieval England: Piglets were sold at the market. Sellers generally kept the pig in a bag so that it would be easier to carry home. Dishonest sellers would instead place a large cat in the bag. Had the buyer looked in the bag then the cat would literally be out of the bag)

The cat’s meow

Copy cat

It’s raining cats and dogs (Mythology – Odin: dogs symbolized wind and cats symbolized down-pouring rain.

Look what the cat dragged in

Scaredy-cat / Fraidy cat

When the cat’s away, the mice will play

To bell a cat

Like herding cats

Make the fur fly

See which was the cat jumps (Olden days: It was considered sport to place a cat in a tree as a target. They would wait to “see which way the cat jumps” before they pulled the trigger)

Now, how is that not interesting?