Saturday, January 26, 2013

Retirement Nicknames

Nine-year-old Samantha Gordon weighs roughly 62 pounds and plays football in an otherwise all-boys league in Utah. In 2012 (her first year playing), she racked up 1,911 yards and 35 touchdowns, earning her the nickname 'Sweet Feet.' It’s an endearing term, in part because the juxtaposition of ‘sweet’ with ‘feet’ is so unexpected. You’d expect feet to be described as ‘smelly,’ or maybe ‘stinky,’ but not ‘sweet.” We’ve all heard ‘sweet cheeks’ before. But ‘sweet feet’? I don’t think so.

You just know where this is headed. My mind is rushing headlong down the track marked: unexpected nicknames for retirees. Let’s begin with feet, those overburdened extremities that bear the brunt of our weight gains (along with our knees). Those appendages prone to bunions and corns and hammertoes. All of which can lead to ‘orthopedic feet.’ As the saying goes (or not): If the shoe doesn’t fit, wear it. (The moniker, that is.)

Moving on to other appendages, the retired ballroom dancer who refuses to give up competitions is no longer known as ‘twinkle toes.’ She’s grown her toenails long and filed them into weaponry that peeks out of her dancing sandals. Most weeks, her nails are actually longer than her heels are high. This has earned her a new title: ‘stiletto toes.’

And while we’re on the subject of digits, most of you will have heard the phrase ‘dowager’s hump.’ Our list includes ‘dowager’s pinky.’ That’s what we’ve dubbed the bent over old lady with the crooked fingers, especially the little one that she sticks out when she’s having her afternoon tea. I am too cruel today.

Another unexpected name tied to physical attributes is the retiree’s equivalent of ‘freckle face.’ We’re now dealing with liver spots, not freckles and we’ve christened her ‘Pleiades.’ That’s the seven sisters constellation (like the seven spectacular age spots on her left cheek), and the website tells us it’s “visible from virtually every place that humanity inhabits Earth’s globe.” That’s pretty much true of her liver spots, too.

Moving ever so slightly away from cheeks, we come to our next nickname. You’ve probably heard of the ‘fuzzy navel,’ my late mother’s favorite cocktail. Well, we have a retired gentlemen whose ear hair has grown so long that he’s known affectionately as ‘fuzzy earlobes.’ I bet you’re tickled to read this one.

Staying in this general vicinity, and keeping in mind that U.S. Marines are called ‘leathernecks,’ let me introduce you to ‘jello neck.’ I don’t think I have to tell you how that sobriquet came about. (Lexicography buffs: there’s a double entendre in that last sentence.)

This option fits into no particular category. Can you guess the origin of the endearing label ‘Rice Krispies’? It’s how we describe the retiree whose bodily noises have now reached the point where he goes snap, crackle and pop, even when he’s sitting still. My bad. Forgive me.

Moving on to some names that came about because of certain clothing. First we have ‘shiny butt.’ He insists on wearing the same corduroy pants even when the behind has been worn down to zero nap. Then there’s the retired gentleman who never leaves his house without some dapper hat covering his bald spot. It’s usually a fedora, so a tip of the lid to ‘beau brimmel.’

We can’t leave this group without mentioning the older women who let their hosiery (especially trouser socks) collapse onto their ankles in nylon puddles. I’m labeling them ‘ankle rolls,’ but I just know there’s a cleverer pet name for them if we noodle it for awhile. And speaking of older women, let’s not forget the nosey rumor mongers in our neighborhoods. We’ll refer to them as ‘gossip laureates’ and hope the sarcasm doesn’t elude them.

Finally, we have a nickname many of us can claim. It’s for those who have not one, not two, but at least three (and maybe four) different prescriptions for various eyeglass needs. When they’re merged into one pair of glasses (avoiding the entanglement of multiple leashes), they yield lenses that give the wearer a most peculiar appearance. Ever wonder what happened to the “girl with kaleidoscope eyes” in the Beatle’s song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds? Well, she retired and became ‘prism eyes.’

There you have it. A basketful of nicknames, pet names, monikers, sobriquets, roses by a lot of other names, for the retirees in your life. I fully expect to have several of them leveled at my husband and me when we walk together. I can hear people whispering: “There go shiny butt and ankle rolls.” At least they didn’t mention my jello neck.

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