It’s fun to remember the way things used to be. Especially the little things like fads, jargon and culture. Some changes are for the better. Others…not so much. This is a short list of just a few of the more obscure and humorous differences I’ve noticed in my lifetime. They may seem silly to you but I think they should be documented for future generations to ask, "What the hell was up with that shit?"
Remember when snapping your fingers was cool? Practically all of the singers and swingers in the '50s and '60s did it. Performers like Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin practically raised it to an art form. It was a hip way to move to the music if you weren’t dancing. Much more satisfying than tapping your foot and much less annoying than humming along. Finger snapping peaked in the late '50s and early '60s when beatniks appropriated it to replace hand clapping at the end of a performance. It was an interesting attempt to be non-conformist but it never caught on because it didn’t offer the same gratification as enthusiastic applause. You could never really give someone a thunderous round of snaps.
I suppose it became obsolete when rockers like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley started putting their whole bodies into their music. Since then, you could say that singers have had to dance for their supper. Now, it is primarily used as a rude way to get the attention of a child or an underling. Personally, I miss it. And I think it’s time to bring back finger snapping as a musical accompaniment. I could totally see Rappers getting into it. Then we could start calling them --wait for it -- Snappers!
Remember when going to the movies was like seeing a live play? They would run in grandiose theaters with balconies, and you could buy a program as a memento of the occasion. It was like seeing a two dimensional Broadway show. They used to make epic films like Lawrence of Arabia and Oliver! that were so long they had to stop in the middle just to wake everyone up. The intermission was a welcomed breather where you could revel in all that you had just seen and build anticipation for what was to come. More importantly, it was your only chance to pee for about three hours.
Now, we watch most of our movies on TV sets. And when we do go to the theater it is rarely to see the kind of epics they used to make. Now, the big-budgeted, star-studded, blockbuster equivalent of those cinematic classics are mostly superhero movies. Dr. Zhivago has been replaced by Dr. Strange and The Music Man has been replaced by Ant Man. Which is kind of like replacing Barack Obama with Donald Trump. Only a lot less dangerous.
Remember when airline stewardesses were hot? Back in the '60s they were every (straight) man's sexual fantasy. Second only to Playboy Bunnies. In those days, stewardesses had to be a desirable height, weight, and age. And, of course, they had to be attractive females. But then gender equality, anti-discrimination and political correctness ruined all that. Now they hire middle-aged women who wear support hose and sensible shoes that remind me of every waitress who's worked at the same coffee shop for over 20 years.
Of course, they’re not called stewardesses anymore. They’re flight attendants now. Because now they have to hire men. Although, I’ve never actually seen a male flight attendant who wasn’t gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.* (*Seinfeld – Season 4, Episode 17)
In spite of the fact that the airline industry has come a long way in changing the image of the stewardess, the advertising companies they hire don’t seem to want to go along for the ride. They still know the effectiveness of selling sex in the skies, as evidenced by these recent ads.
Remember when white-wall tires were a thing? I never understood what the big deal was, but they used to sell them like they were going out of style. Which, of course, they were.
Don’t settle for boring old black tires when you can have boring old black tires with white stripes on them!!! That’s right!!! They don’t do anything, we’ll charge you extra for them and they’re a pain-in-the-ass to keep clean!!! But we’re convincing everyone else to buy them, so you should too!!!
For some inexplicable reason white-walls were a status symbol that remained popular, on and off, into the 1970s. Having no other function, they were perhaps the best example of the power of marketing over the mindlessness of the masses. At least, until the Pet Rock came along.
Remember when people wore dickies? Not only was this a poorly named fashion accessory but it was a really silly one, too. Kind of like clip on bow ties for the sweater set. They covered your neck but left your arms and lower torso completely exposed. They looked like turtlenecks for people who couldn’t afford to buy the whole sweater. So who thought that was a good idea? And why did I have so many of them?
The intention was to wear a shirt over it so it looked like you were wearing a sweater underneath. But why not just wear a sweater? Who were you fooling? And why were you trying to fool them? There was no way to look cool once you took your shirt off. You looked like a giant baby wearing a bib with a high collar. While they were briefly in-style, they were never stylish. Which explains why they are the one of the few fashion trends that never made a comeback.
Remember when people used expressions like…
Nookie (meaning: having sex) These days it is the name of a clothing line. I would have liked to have been at the meeting where they came up with that name.
Boner (meaning: a man’s erection) Now it just means - a stupid mistake. It’s saddens me to think that nobody gets a boner anymore.
Old Maid (meaning: a single woman who’s passed her prime) Today it’s mostly thought of as a family friendly card game. Not a woman who will probably never have a family.
Dummy (meaning: a politically incorrect way of referring to a stupid person) But when Don Rickles used the word, it was hilarious. His biggest album was called, Hello, Dummy.
Cockeyed (meaning: not seeing things clearly) The dictionary defines it as “crooked or absurd”. Unfortunately, we also used it to describe people who were cross-eyed.
Pizzazz (meaning: a glamourous or charismatic quality) It’s a great word whose meaning hasn’t changed. So why doesn’t anybody use it anymore? People need more pizzazz in their lives.
Your Mother Wears Army Boots (meaning: originating in WWII, it could have meant your mother was butch or a hooker or a butch hooker. This was never really clear.) In the early ‘70s this maternal insult was shortened to the equally vague, “Yo Mama”. These days it would probably be a compliment meaning that your mother is a strong woman who serves her country in the military.
Shove It Up Your Ass, Blow It Out Your Ass, Play Grab Ass and the ever popular, Get Your Head Out of Your Ass. (I’m ass-uming you know what these mean) I’m not sure why we were so obsessed with asses back then but we sure did use the word a lot.
Sometimes, I still use dated expressions like Beauty Parlor instead of Salon or Pocket Book instead of Purse or Ice Box instead of Freezer. Just because the world keeps forcing changes on me, doesn’t mean I can’t stubbornly cling the way things used to be. I guess I’m just a cockeyed dummy with a lot of pizzazz.
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