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By James Arey

  • Guy on Campus

Leaving campus today, I walked by a man, early-50s, clean-shaven except for an enormous Grover Cleveland mustache. He had a Target plastic bag with him, filled with… something. Even though it was in the 80s today, he had a windbreaker rolled up under his left arm. He was sitting at a table, hunched over a bit, writing something furiously on a scrap of paper.

I thought: 1) He’s nuts. 2) He doesn’t care that people may think he’s nuts. 3) He doesn’t realize people may think he’s nuts.

• Punctuation and Acronyms

1) Signs:

Outside a Frenchmen Street concert this past weekend — CD’s for Sale
Near Baton Rouge — Garage Door’s for Sale

2) Overheard:

“PIN number”
“ATM machine”

Don DeLillo once wrote a scene that described a charity race held to raise money to fight a disease. He mentioned, though, that the wording of the banner at the race seemed to indicate that the winner of the race actually won the disease. I know what he means. Coming up in June there’s a “Walk for Cancer” event being held in a local park. Ideally, shouldn’t it be a “Walk to Cure Cancer”?

In Uptown New Orleans there are newly installed black-and-white metal signs that read: “Curb Your Dog. $100 Fine.” Again, shouldn’t the signs read: “NOT Curbing Your Dog — $100 Fine”?

1940’s Slang

A friend posted earlier this week that he was “sore.” I replied, asking if he meant 1) “sore” in the 1940’s sense — “Gee, that makes me sore” — or 2) in the tired muscle sense.

He meant it in the latter sense, but it got me thinking … there are some words and phrases from that era I just might be convinced need verbally and conversationally resurrecting.

Giggle Water — an alcoholic drink
Dope — moron
High-hat — to dismiss or ignore (“He gave me the old high-hat.”)
Twist — concerned/worried (“Why’re you in such a twist over this?”)

I knew a decent guy in Atlanta a few years ago who worked as a local advance-man for one of the movie studios. He helped with screenings, audience surveys, local press, etc. He was in his 20s but always referred to the movies as “pictures.” He’d actually say things like: “I hope the new Harry Potter picture gets legs.” I think he did this without any sense of camp or irony. He wasn’t that deep.


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