Twitter. I like it best when done by birds. So many old words mean very new things. Language is ever evolving but at age 60, what I don’t know can be embarrassing. Since when did innocent phrases get hijacked into the sexual realm?
It started a few years back when I was working with a college professor on a writing workshop. In trying to set up a first-time meeting, I asked, “So what time do you want to hook up?”
He replied (very formally I might add), “How about if we meet at two?” The emphasis on meet hinted that I had said something wrong.
Later my daughter clued me in, “Mom, ‘hooking up’ means to have sex.”
The color drained from my face. Mentally I counted the number of times that “invitation” must have fallen casually from my lips. No wonder my minister raised an eyebrow a while back.
“That’s not fair! I’ve said, ‘hook up’ for years! Besides people know better anyway.”
My daughter shrugged. “Not anymore so watch yourself, Missy.”
It keeps happening. Recently, “pole dancing” appeared on the subject line in a spate of emails among senior friends in a civic group. What in the world were my fellow members up to?
It turned out they were circulating a historic photo of The Totem Pole Ballroom in Newton, Mass (1930 to 1963). In its heyday, the site featured big band orchestras and entertainment (Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, even the Von Trapp Family) and ballroom dancing “for couples only.” The place was even featured on major television stations (all three of them!). The top of the vintage photo advertisement read, “Totem Pole for your dancing pleasure.”
Gee, that line sure has a new spin nowadays. Well, of course! Who could resist riffing on that?
Even small children get into the act. I was talking about pirates and treasure to my little granddaughter, and I used the word, “booty,” and little Lulu said, “Ooh, you said a bad word.” I’d say I was getting a “bum” rap, but again she would correct my inappropriate language.
I am a Lingo-saurus lumbering about on the brink of the La Brea Tar Pits. Watch it, Missy, or you, too, will fall in.
Email Suzette Martinez Standring: firstname.lastname@example.org She is the author of the Amazon bestseller, “The Art of Opinion Writing”, and the award winning, “The Art of Column Writing.” Visit www.readsuzette.com