Music

Slang in the Nation: Prostitutes Call Slow-to-Satisfaction Customers “Thirty-Threes”

by

I have a bit of slang problem, as anyone who’s ever talked to me and failed to understand anything I said knows. My favorite section of Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives may well be the nine pages of Latin poetic and Spanish prurient slang that lead off the book’s final section. I was thrilled for hours the other day when I found out that “murdered,” a word I use all the time, was apparently a comedian’s term of art before it was the seven or eight other things it might mean coming out of my mouth.

So Caleb Crain’s Nation essay, “Pixies, Sheilas, Dirtbags and Cougar Bait: Modern Slang,” which is ostensibly a review of two different slang dictionaries but basically boils down, as this conversation does, to naming and defining choice new words, is like heroin to me. In particular, I applaud Caleb’s decision to add some of his own proprietary slang to the world at large:

    My boyfriend and I refer to going online as checking our bids, in memory of a bygone fascination with eBay. Because we once elaborated the no-chicken label on a box of vegetarian broth into a fowl-friendly warning–“No, no, chicken! Keep away from the boiling water!”–we now always call the broth no-no chicken. The glossy young rich who crowd us out of our favorite restaurants are known to us as kittenheads, on account of a bus-side ad I once saw that juxtaposed an enormous fluffy white feline head, a crystal goblet full of glistening diced organ meats and the slogan “Next Stop, Uptown.”

If only because I’m officially stealing “Next Stop, Uptown” for my own purposes…

Most Popular