I can’t commit to doing what Jesus would do in any given situation. I’m not generous enough, wise enough, or turn water into wine-y enough. There are T-shirts that suggest one do whatever Joan Jett would do, but I’m not bad ass enough. Not good enough to be Jesus, not bad enough to be . . . → Read More: What Would Barbara Stanwyck Do?
One of the things I love about old movies, old songs, and detective novels from the likes of Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, is the great vernacular. It further adds to the feel that the 30s and 40s is this cool, arcane world with its own reality, its own set of rules, and a language all its own.
Take Minnie the Moocher
(please). In the first three lines of the song we learn Minnie is not only a moocher, but also a “lowdown hoochie-coocher” and “the roughest and toughest frail.” In other words, Minnie was infamous for taking all she could get away with taking, as well as rough, tough and pretty slutty. You see, a moocher*
is someone who gloms on to whatever he or she can get, hoochie-coocher
means sexually promiscuous, a frail
is a woman, and lowdown
means, well, not so nice. (She also liked to “kick the gong around”; in other words, Minnie hearts opium.You see, “dame” is only one of many terms folks in the Great Depression had for the chromosomally Y-challenged half of the population. Here are some other words meaning female:Ankle (as a verb this means to walk)
Ace of Spades (widow)
Babe or Baby
Ball and Chain (wife…hmmm, sensing a pattern here)
Better Half (wife…that’s better)
Biddy (oddly enough, a young woman)
Bim or Bimbo
Blimp (stout woman)
Blister (Ugly or old woman)
Bundle of Rags (wife…sheesh)
Cookie Pusher (wealthy young woman)
Cuddle Cutie (prostitute)
Dawn Patrol (restaurant lingo for a young woman who regularly patronizes the joint very early in the morning)
Demi-Tasse or Demi-Rep (prostitute)
Doll or Dolly
Filly (young woman)
Floozie (not a compliment)
Frump (sloppy or critical woman)
Gid (young woman)
Golddigger (woman only after dough)
Herring (an incorruptible girl — Herring was the brand of safe that couldn’t be dynamited open )
High Jumper (young woman fond of liquor)
Iron Pants (chaste woman)
Jailbait (teenage girls)
Continue reading Words For Women: Get the Hang of 30s Slang
The 1940s and Depression era “girl reporter” embodies everything I could ever want to be. The very quintessence of dame-ness, she’s smart, savvy, confident, independent, and quick with the comeback. (She also looks pretty steppy in her fitted suit.) As adept at a snappy line as she is with a byline, . . . → Read More: Girl Crush on Girl Reporter (Wish MY Name Were “Torchy Blane”)
Lately I’ve been having all kinds of epiphanies up in here. Not “meaning of life” stuff, but staggeringly obvious insights that mostly annoy me with their tardy blatant-ness. Some are unimportant, of the “Hey, it is a soul-deadening waste of time to keep up with the Kardashians!” variety, but others are more substantive.
Ever . . . → Read More: If I Had a Ribbon Bow (aka Why I Need a 37th Little Black Dress)
You hear a lot about self-esteem, and apparently you’re supposed to have it. A lot if possible. I have always found this tricky.
Of course, I’m old enough that when I was little, no one ever talked about self-esteem. On the other hand, not being too big for your britches, not acting conceited, those messages were heard loud and clear. (I think in elementary school, at least among us girls, “being conceited” was the worst thing of which you could be accused.) At home I got the distinct impression I needn’t think too highly of myself, and tamp down whatever exhilaration any little girl grade success might bring on. When I was put in a gifted program I knew not to discuss it much at home so my brother’s feelings wouldn’t get hurt. I could have easily risen above all this accept for the fact that the accomplishment that meant most to me was being loved, being liked – or at the very least not not-liked. And so began my diligent immersion into self-effacement.
Continue reading Self-Esteem is Tricky
When I was a girl I loved to get those little booklets they sold by the cash register at the supermarket. I’d read and re-read all the “1,000 Baby Names” books. Even now, decades later, I know dozens of useful facts like Ellen means light, Thurston (as in Howell) means Thor’s stone, and that Sally is a diminutive of Sarah which in turn means princess. I never tired of naming my dozens of unborn future children; Clementine, Eudora (well-born), Tristan (Old Welsh for sad) and Tallulah (Native American for fabulous throaty bisexual) were serious contenders. Now of course the joke’s on me since I don’t even have one child to tar with one of my many monikers.
But my all-time favorite 39 cent booklet was the wee “What Real-Life French Women Wear”. (That may not have been the actual name but that was the theme.) Being in third grade and all I couldn’t implement the advice right away, but one thing has stuck with me all these years. Stuck with me, but sadly eluded me.
It said the typical French woman had only about 5 things in her closet. The point was that French women are smart and sophisticated enough to just buy a few really good things and wear them every day in various permutations. I pictured a pristine closet with a few paltry hangers bearing only a black pencil skirt, a crisp white shirt, a good-quality black turtleneck, an LBD of course, one pair of always well-pressed pants, and one of those stripe-y sailor-y shirts Jean-Paul Gaultier is always wearing. The lesson was quality over quantity, and that sorting out some sort of uniform was the easiest, quickest and best way to dress. Continue reading I’m So Pathetically Not French