Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Retirement Issues - New Euphemisms

As a retiree, I seem more attuned to popular language, especially as evidenced in TV commercials. I’ve noticed a new trend in the euphemisms for well-used profanity. Since I’m determined to stay current in my retirement, I feel it’s important for me to understand this trend and speak in a way that shows that I’m jiggy with it.

Before I expand on that, I’d like to take a brief trip down memory lane. We’re all familiar with the nicer terms “shucks,” “drat” and “darn,” but a grade school friend’s mother used to say “Oh, guy!” to keep from taking the Lord’s name in vain. I found it quaint and I’ve never heard anyone else say it.

I remember an ad from the seventies (or thereabouts) wherein the actor muttered: “Dirty ratzle frat!” and “Fizzleramic packalumer!” I can’t tell you what the product was, but I still remember those silly pseudo-swear words. (Kudos to you if you remember the commercial, even if you can’t name the product either. Google hasn’t even heard of the phrases.)

The most exemplary of the new euphemisms is “Shut the front door!” used in a cookie commercial, among other places. This phrase provides guidelines for how to create these. The most important is that the innocuous word you substitute for the swear word must start with the same letter. It should also contain the same number of syllables. Other than that, it’s pretty much “Katy bar the door.” (That one’s not a euphemism, so don’t try to figure it out.)

Based on these guidelines, “What the frog” is a proper new euphemism, whereas “What the tadpole” is not. Likewise “Give me a frosted cake” cuts the mustard, but “Give me a nice bouquet” does not. And finally, “The sand really hit the cow” is a winner, but “The ice cream hit the spot”—loser.

I’m thinking of creating a new parlor game where the guests are given the actual profanity and have to come up with a new euphemism based on it. It would certainly be an icebreaker. Everyone would vote on which guest came up with the best one. The more of a non sequitur the new phrase is, the more points they get.

Feel free to submit suggestions, but please don’t take offense if I don’t use them. If that’s not okay, well, frankly, you can go smoke in your sack, because I don’t give a class act. And you can wipe that soap bubble film off your shoe.

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