Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Idle Musings

Every now and then, you see something that makes you wonder. I just did.

I walked through a room in which the satan-box (or "television set," as it is usually rendered in the Common Speech) was playing. What was on, as so often happens, was a commercial advertisement. It was intended to get the viewer to purchase hardware and services from the ... well, why should I help them by repeating their name? It was one of the several outfits that can fix you up with an 18-inch satellite dish receiver.

Anyway, in the commercial, two suburban ladies are talking in what is evidently the home of one of them. Some small household object suddenly flies past them, hits the TV, and is apparently plastered up against it. "What was that?" asks the guest lady. The homeowner lady's reply: "Oh, it's just my TV. My TV sucks."

Over the next few seconds, more and more items, including a baby stroller with the baby on board, are added to the picture-tube collection. One of the ladies observes, "It sucks really hard."

Well, it turns out that the guest lady's TV, at her home, does not suck. This is because she has the correct dish provider, instead of an incorrect one, or cable, or whatever.

This got me to thinking. How and when, exactly, did the "sucks" formulation become mainstream-acceptable?

I calculate that I was a fifth-grade engineer in the year 1965, and I remember that as the year in which I and my classmates learned to use the word "suck." It was clearly understood by all to refer to the oral-genital stimulation of a male. It wasn't anything you said, if there was a chance you'd be overheard by an adult "authority figure" (which, at the time, meant pretty much any adult). To be told that "you suck" was a fairly serious insult, likely to lead to hand-to-hand combat.

So I wonder: do the people who use the suck-word so freely today know what the original meaning was? Perhaps they do know, but maybe the practice is taken for granted as a normal activity these days. I wonder. But not for very long. After all, I'm still waiting breathlessly for the real and important news of the day: any break in the Aruba missing-party-girl case? How are T.O. and Donovan getting along these days? You know ... the important things.

2 comments:

Craig said...

If my brother was to use that word in reference to me, or vice-versa, withing earshot of one of our parents we were definitely in for a long night.

TW said...

Many years ago I informed my 3 daughters that they would not be allowed to use that word in that context around our house ever.

My wife was in total support of that ultimatum, but wasn't quite sure why I was so hot on it. (She just thought it sounded vulgar)When I reminded her of the word's origins you could kind of see the lights get brighter. She like many others had forgotten the word's origins when used in that context.

The same ultimatum applies to the use of the word frickin', friggin', or any other variation one might utilize in place of the "real" F word.