Sunday, November 23, 2014

Euphemisms for "Living in Sin"

Times have changed.  Whereas back in 1960 or so, less than 10 percent of subsequently married couples lived together before marriage, nowadays about 60 percent do so.  And, of course, there are those who live together for a while, but who never get married.  One of the factors is that both men and women get married somewhat older nowadays: 27 for men and 26 for women; as opposed to 23 for men and 20 for women back in 1960.

And in some settings or communities, this is more common than in others.  For example, in Atlanta 22 percent of couples were living together but unmarried according to the 2000 census.  It's much lower in Salt Lake City or El Paso.  This change in couple demographics has required some families and groups to make accommodations.  Or, in the case of where traditional values linger, some subterfuge.  [Schoolteachers living together without marriage usually are at risk of termination or not having their contracts renewed.]  

But there is the linguistic accommodation.  How do you refer to people living in this sort of state?  Here's a few, with some commentary:

1.  Shacking up -- Somewhat 1940's in use; also carries disrespect for the habitation shared by the couple.

2.  Significant other -- This must have been coined by a lawyer.

3.  Lover -- To the point in a way; but can't married couples also be lovers?  And what about Platonic lovers?

4.  Main squeeze -- Somehow, juice imagery comes to mind.

5.  Common-law spouse -- An old term.

6.  Old lady or old man -- Only for motorcyclists.  But teens sometimes refer to their parents in such a way.  Not a wise move for family harmony.

7.  Cohabitor -- Too pointed and clinical.  You may as well refer to "the person I have coitus with."

8.  Companion -- Only if she or he is a real dog [slang!].

9.  Living in Sin -- Can either imply a moral judgment, or an ironic commentary on the state of living together with benefits.*

10.  Friend with Benefits -- This euphemism implies that they're having sex; but FWBs don't have to live together.

11.  Persons of Opposite Sexes Sharing Living Quarters (POSSLQ) -- I swear, the U.S. Census came up with a neutral term to describe this shared nonmarital state.  In response to this term, CBS's Charles Osgood wrote this tender romantic poem:
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
If you would be my POSSLQ
You live with me and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I'll be your friend and so much more;
That's what a POSSLQ is for
12.  Domestic partner -- Very commonly used, but quite oblique.

13.  Trial marriage partner -- It's like the person is saying, "I'm taking him for a test drive to see if he steers well and doesn't leak."

14.  Friend -- Too vague.

15.  Sex partner or the like -- Emphasis on only one aspect of the arrangement.

16.  In a relationship -- Keeps it satisfyingly vague.  

17.  Plays house together -- Too cute.

Obviously, the terminology adopted by the person carries heavily what he or she thinks or feels about what is going on.  Have you any other suggestions to cope with this linguistic terminology gap currently facing users of American English users?

*I was NOT implying disapproval of this; quite the contrary.

Let not the cohabitation of true minds admit impediments

Friday, November 21, 2014

Southern Comfort Food

Comfort food is a traditional food that is usually easily prepared, and provides feelings of nostalgia to the person who had been socialized in the culture of its origin.  Comfort food is more "feel good" food than healthy food.  This is the food to turn to when you feel blue, or are sick.

I'll restrict my examples to the Gulf Coastal South, the South as I know best.

Grits -- While they can be prepared in a variety of ways, including cheesy grits, I prefer the traditional butter and salt seasoning.  Hash browns at breakfast is a vile experience.  Some bacon or link sausage complements it nicely.

Jambalaya -- A traditional Cajun dish based on rice, some onion and possibly sweet pepper or celery seasoning, and whatever meat is available for adding: andouille, ham, shrimp, chicken, duck.  Maybe not alligator.

Red Beans and Rice -- A traditional washday Monday meal.  The red beans are even better as leftovers!  Use some ham pieces and flavor with a hambone.  Season with Tabasco sauce.

Gumbo -- A dish made of meat or shellfish, a roux, seasoning vegetables, and either okra or filé.

Barbecue pork or beef --  Get this from a barbecue joint, either as take-out or eat on the premises.  I prefer pulled pork or beef, as opposed to chopped.  A variety of sauces is fine, but no mayonnaise-based sauces, please!  Establishments that serve barbecue are referred to as "joints"; this does not imply a negative judgment about them.

Banana pudding -- The recipe is so easy.  Line the bottom of the bowl with vanilla wafers, cut up some ripe bananas, and pour some vanilla pudding mixed with the bananas on the wafers.  Let cool in the refrigerator.

Moon Pie -- This is Southern junk food.  Best with a Co-Cola or a RC.  That sinful, feel-good result is known as a Moon Pie High.

Pecan pie -- Here's a good recipe from The Food Network:

Hush puppies -- Another term for corn fritter.  Actually, corn muffins are good too.  Serve these with seafood, barbecue, or good ole Texas chili.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Lake Peigneur Disaster

I'm sure that working in a salt mine sucks, as judging from the common metaphor associated with work: "Back to the salt mines."

However, there was an occasion in which a salt mine itself sucked: this was the Lake Peigneur disaster of November 20, 1980.  The setting: Iberia Parish, southwest of New Iberia, in southwest Louisiana.

A Texaco oil rig was digging with a 14 inch drill when it accidentally broke into a salt mine of the Diamond Crystal Salt Company..  As a result, the fresh water of the lake coursed down the hole, filling the enormous salt mine.  Fortunately, no human lives were lost; the miners had an effective evacuation plan and were able to leave safely while the rig crew was able to get off before the rig got sucked into the maelstrom.

Previously, the water from the small lake flowed into Vermilion Bay;  however, the stream connecting the two temporarily flowed in reverse, resulting in salt water flowing into the lake.  This in turn temporarily produced the largest waterfall in the state of Louisiana.  Also, the water that coursed down the hole into the salt mine tended to flow outward through the ventilation shafts, producing unLouisiana-like geysers for a time.  Here's a video of the event.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fandom as a Factor in Home Decoration

There are different degrees of fandom; and some homeowners may wish to up their fan game a notch or two.  It takes a HUGE commitment to paint your house in your team's colors, not to mention possibly violating city or neighborhood covenant rules which address color schemes.  Now this house in Faubourg Marigny has a nice lavender color scheme that quite elegantly displays the fine carpentry work.  But what if was a deeper purple with gold trim (LSU's colors)?  The result might be a bit in your face.

Of course, unsympathetic neighbors or apartment owners may limit your desire to express your team loyalty in this way.  In which case, you might subtly do it in your garden.  A bed of purple and gold Johnny jump-ups (miniature pansies) can hint that you're a Tiger fan.  And this color scheme can pass if you're living in a community in which a rival team is located.

Still, there are supporters of some teams that might have trouble with acceptable decors.  Consider the Green Bay Packers scheme: green and yellow.  Or a benighted homeowner who decides to paint his home in the Cincinnati Bengals' stripes like on their helmets.  Or, maximally odious: the Oregon Ducks' day-glow color scheme.

Perhaps they should change their loyalties to teams that have less jarring color combinations.

And never, never, never go in for team logos.  While some are okay, the New England Patriots' helmet logo is absolutely the pits!

Monday, November 17, 2014

When Should You Stop Wearing Youthful Clothes?

A recent survey in Mail Online asked 2,000 women to indicate which age when they should stop wearing some of the more youthful, sexier fashion choices.  Here are the average cut-off ages that some inhibited, self-conscious Brits proposed . . . .

Crop tops that show off your midriffage 34
Really short shortsage 35
Belly-button rings and piercingsage 35
Leggingsage 37
Miniskirtsage 37
Bikinisage 40
Stiletto heelsage 41
Long hairage 42

However, 16% of the women surveyed disagreed with any age limits.  Good for them!  In my opinion, as long as you feel comfortable wearing it, you should do so.  Don't let anyone rob you of your zest for life.  Often, other people might, for whatever reasons, try to influence you.

In an unscientific survey of "what you shouldn't be wearing after 30 or so article , I found the following fashion statements labeled by the Ms. Grinches* who wrote them specified such items as:

a)  Mini- and microskirts (Can Deep South and California residents have an exemption?)
b)  Daisy Dukes (Ditto.)
c)  Furry boots
d)  Boots that glitter (I am considering getting a pair.)
e)  T-shirts with cartoon animals or strident messages on them (They will get my Hello Kitty t-shirt when they pry it out.....never mind.)
f)  Leopard print clothing or accessories
g)  Scrunchies  (Why, for Heaven's sake!)
h)  Tiaras (You mean I can't be a Cajun princess?)
i)   Crop tops
j)   Neon-colored clothing (Never wore any' I don't hunt.)
k)  Knee socks (Have they no heart?)
l)   Hoop earrings (So I can't channel my inner Gypsy?)
m)  Sparkly pants
n)  Sneakers (I'll pretend that I didn't see that.)
o)  Clunky platform shoes (I don't have any)
p)  Tube tops (Wearing one would make me insecure.)
q)  Mismatched socks

Apparently, you are not supposed to have fun with clothing after a certain age.  At least the following weren't mentioned:

a)  Parasols trimmed with lace
b)  Kimonos
c)  Elegant Gothic Lolita fashions
d)  LSU t-shirts
e)  Big hair, like from Nashville or Jersey
f)  Retro rah-rah skirts
g)  Hiking boots
h)  Edward Gorey jewelry
i)   Cowboy hats
j)   Kitty cat or puppy purses
k)  Sundresses
l)   Two piece exercise clothes
m)  Yoga pants
n)  1950's-style conical bras (just kidding!)
o)  Mardi Gras beads

Of course, some people are more likely to be critics:


*Think the b word.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Brand X

In olden days, some products used advertisements comparing the product they extolled with some dummy competitor, often labeled Brand X.  Why this little delicacy was used, I do not know.  Could it be a fear of lawsuits, a fear that the competition would gain by being mentioned albeit in an ad for a competing product, or simply to reduce the likelihood of the competitors retaliating with more forceful counter ads?  Anyway, there's a number of not-so-good products out there that could serve as easy ones to be compared to.

In search of these, I went to some of the discount stores selling merchandise typically for prices around a dollar.  Alas, I found a lot of discount brands with suspect names: No-Poot gas pills, Sorta Clean detergent, Dog Breath mouthwash, Bump Along tires, Large Owl bras, Kitty Begone cat litter, and so on.  But no Brand X.  There were a few products labeled "Generic," but apparently Brand X was not used as a product name any longer.

In my opinion, ad men are missing a bet here.  Why not propose Brand X as a serious product name?  And use Brand Y as a name for a supplemental product.  (I feel a little Cartesian this morning).

As a matter of fact, we could have politicians run under names like Joseph X or Mitch Y or so forth.  Would this perk interest?  Apparently, the recent Fall, 2014 election was characterized by widespread lack of voter interest, especially with some groups.

Would this work?  Here's a possible reason why it might.  In 1884, John Singer Sargent labeled his most famous or notorious painting, Portrait of Madame X, a daring portrait of Virginie Amélie  Avegno Gautreau.  This was the sensation of the Salon in Paris for that year.

Sargent's other works are often beautiful, like his Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, and his Nude Egyptian Girl, but Madame X is by far the most easily recognizable.

Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt

Nude Egyptian Girl

The last one is noteworthy itself because of its use of a radically long portrait (73" X 23") format; departing from the usual 8:5 ratio of the Golden Section.  

Sargent did numerous other works, including other portraits, landscapes, and even a wartime fainting of gassed soldiers; but not with as much recognition as Portrait of Madame X.  Would it have carried as much impact if it had been entitled Portrait of Virginie Striking an Attitude?  Something to wonder about.

So, bold ad people, consider the use of that little ole X when advertising products, politicians, or even authors!  X may indeed mark the spot with interest and intrigue.  In a world where the consumer is bombarded by numerous advertising claims, they might retreat to this unknown yet trustworthy entity.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Band T-Shirts

While some deplore Millenials, Gen Xers, or even Boomers wearing band t-shirts, these have become a staple of casual wear for many individuals because they're inexpensive, hearken back to good times, and project some form of attitude or other.   It may helpful to provide the gentle reader with some clues as to how to interpret these shirts.

Some convey a casual, yet traditionalist message, as this classic Southern rock group does:

You can include a patriotic motif if you wish:

Also, your t-shirt can bear a cryptic, yet sensuous message:

You have to take the attitude that the band projected into account.  Seriously, I would not have dated a guy that wore a Blink 182 or Insane Clown Posse t-shirt.

Wearing a Nirvana t-shirt can convey retro or old-fashioned attitudes.  Typically, Nirvana t-shirt wearers wear bras and vote Republican.

There are some who wear t-shirts for polka bands.  Are they individualists or just contrary?  One thing for sure: he does impress the girls!

Wearing a band t-shirt for one of the new bands implies that you are current with music trends, and care deeply about new directions.

But respecting the classic bands wins favor with listeners in their 60's and 70's.  Jim Morrison for Sainthood!  Do you dare flaunt the iconic Rolling Stones' tongue?  That's too hard core for me!

It's always impressive to show up wearing one of a rare or esoteric bands.  Yes, this is a real one, a referring to a type of song mixing Hawaiian and English, I think.

Of course, a shirt for a Russian duo (T.a.T.u) in Russian makes for confusion.  Is the wearer sympathetic to gays, knows Russian, or a secret admirer of Vladimir Putin?  Most people would simply be confused at what seems to be nonsensical letters.  For some, that is totally awesome!

But here's good advice to follow.  Wearing a band t-shirt that you don't follow is like wearing a regimental tie while never having served in English regiment.  Mark my words, poseurs are inevitably discovered as such.