Tired of Dressing Up? Clothes Calls

larry-paros-love-words

All dressed up and nowhere to go? Blame it on your significant other. It’s time for a dressing down (19th C.) — ”a scolding or severe tongue-lashing. “ — what comes of dressing someone (15th C.), “giving them a thrashing.”

It’s not your fault. You’re all decked out—ready and rarin’ to go—a clotheshorse (19th C.), who’s chafing at the bit. Unlike the original clotheshorse, a wooden frame on which we hung clothes to air or dry,  today’s clotheshorse knows how to show off  her fancy duds (1275), rescuing them from their original meaning as a mere “coarse sackcloth.”

You’re a real fashion plate (c.1850-55)—a delicacy for the eyes. Initially a newspaper or magazine advertisement featuring chic fashion models, you later looked as if you had actually stepped out of one of those ads.

Dressed to the nines, (18th C.), places you at the height of fashion. Being up to the nines meant being “to the utmost degree or extent” of anything. Some think it a corruption of the Middle English, to then eyne, “to the eyes.”  But as the highest single digit, nine has long had magical properties associated with it. As the trinity of trinities, it implied “the sum of all perfections.”

Your partner disputes equating your quest for perfection with  dressing up (17th C.), wearing apparel more fashionable than the occasion calls for, primarily to impress and influence others.  Dressing things up he says disguises things, making them appear more interesting or appealing than they really are

You have no choice now but to dress him down (mid 20th C.), not unlike when the military publically imposes a particularly severe, often highly formalized discipline, often entailing a reduction in rank and perhaps even ejection ( cashiering) of the individual from the service.

He then reminds you it’s a dress-down occasion—a casual day at the office during which time the dress code has been relaxed. You can only stare back at him having been now fully exposed.

Making Bones About Things

larry-paros-words-comics

Time to bone up on a few things today–study intensely like students of Latin in the 1860s who once turned to the works of Henry George Bohn (1796-1884) and his translation of the Classics to help get them through their studies.

 Cutting to the bone (1400), we remove all the extraneous matter, literally getting down to the bare bones (1900) or the mere essentials if you like.

You say we have a bone to pick? Originally, this left us “mulling over the situation,” like a dog studying a bone. Two dogs quarreling over it made it into the “cause of argument,” as a bone of contention.

Making no bones about it had us “fearing no encounter or difficulty” (c.1459) and offering no difficulty (c.1529).—as would be the case of a person eating fish or stew, the meal progressing well and his level of comfort being high, once obstacles such as the bones had been removed. Having no reservations about a particular course of action, especially any moral scruples, then enabled us to “not let anything stand in our way” and to “deal openly and directly.”

That’s providing of course that we have no skeletons in our closet (19thC.).

Take words with Larry @
twitter.com/wordswithlarry
facebook.com/wordswithlarry
pinterest.com/wordswithlarry

Check Larry on Huffington Post

More fun with words by Larry
bawdylanguage.com

How to Live Outside the Box: Push-Pull, Quick-Quick

FacebookGoogleTwitter

larry-paros-words

Pilots used to carry in an envelope papers describing the technical limits of their plane’s performance. Limits of speed and stress were graphically depicted, showing the parameters within which the pilot could fly safely and outside of which he would lose control. Over time, it became natural to refer to those limits as the envelope. When you exceeded them, you were said to have pushed the envelope (late 1960s).

Today, we reserve the phrase for those who discard the conventional and instead choose to be  daring or innovative. We like to think that a good amount of this occurs in the realm of the popular Arts.  But there is nothing inherently creative or innovative by simply going outside the norm. TV and Movie producers are actually feeling out the limits–pushing the envelope of good taste by challenging existing moral standards with their gratuitous sex and violence. If they truly wanted to push the envelope, their works would inform and elevate the human condition, not debase it.

It seems they’d rather just push our buttons (c.1920s) instead, eliciting a strong emotional response, especially that of a sexual or violent nature. But the only real effect that most of us feel just plain anger. Pushed buttons activate a mechanism, like an elevator, which in this case, sends some of us through the roof (First half of 1900s). As to their envelope, it might be best that it simply be returned to the sender

Take words with Larry @
twitter.com/wordswithlarry
facebook.com/wordswithlarry
pinterest.com/wordswithlarry

Check Larry on Huffington Post

More fun with words by Larry
bawdylanguage.com

What’s with all the Facial Hair? Shave and a Haircut

The grunge look is very much in today. Baseball players sport beards and stubble is worn by young men everywhere as a fashion statement.

hair-larry-paros

Hats off to the House of David, a 19th century cult which helped set the precedent. Established in 1903 to gather the 12 lost tribes of Israel for purpose of await the Millennium, its members were encouraged to spend some of their time waiting, by playing sports. The House of David started playing baseball around 1913, and by 1920, the team was “barnstorming” around the country as a way of earning money for the colony, and attracting potential members.

The team was always a great attraction due to their long hair and beards, drawing substantial crowds wherever they played. By the early 20’s, they began to recruit outside the colony and the faith, because of their increasing popularity and the need to hire players with greater ability as well as the lack of colony member participation, These “Players for Hire” were required to grow a beard, and some played for the team for many years. The House of David continued to sponsor barnstorming teams until the late 30’s, and teams in weekend semi-pro leagues into the late 40’s. At one time the House of David had up to 3 teams barnstorming around the country from 1930 to 1940, then again from 1946 to 1955.

It wasn’t always that way. During the early 19th century, being clean-cut put you a cut above the rest, making you superior to the others, a cut being a higher degree or stage.

Things changed when small side whiskers began to sprout after the War of 1812, then blossoming fully after the Civil War.

One who helped shape the trend was General Ambrose E. Burnside, Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

larry-paros

Burnside cut a dashing figure, sporting a hat so flamboyant that it carried his name. What was under his hat, however, proved to be of even greater interest.

Defying established custom, Burnside dared not only to shave his chin smooth, but to sport alongside it, a full mustache and sidebar whiskers. Wow! The style so captured the popular imagination that thousands of men quickly adopted it.

But we live in somewhat of an upside down world. And before you knew it, the burnside became sideburns, made doubly appropriate by how they run down the sides of a man’s face, and ultimately came to define any patch of hair in the front of a man’s ears, running along his jaw line.

Many a Burnside victory on the battlefield was a close shave, a narrow escape or a near miss, alluding to the thin margin between closely shaved skin and a razor cut.

Those harkening for a return to clean look should be reminded that we can tolerate only so many close shaves; for many they are dangerously accurate, proving simply too close for comfort.

Take words with Larry @
twitter.com/wordswithlarry
facebook.com/wordswithlarry
pinterest.com/wordswithlarry

Check Larry on Huffington Post

More fun with words by Larry
bawdylanguage.com

Do You Have a Drinking Problem? I’ll Drink to That.

larry-paros-blog

Cocktails (c.1806), anyone?  Alas, there’s no recipe for making one and also little agreement as how it got its name. Lots of suggestions abound however. They include the cocktail horse, “one with a raised or cocked bobtail,” akin to the garnish often adorning the drink.  Traveling further afield, the West African kaketal, a scorpion with a wicked sting in its tail; as well as a seductive Mexican Princess named “Xochitl “or “Coctel.” The 1790s also featured a French apothecary noted for his unique cognac concoctions which he happened to dispense in egg cups called coquetiers.

If you’d rather go on the cheap, try some booze, from the Middle Dutch busen, “to drink or “tipple.” It’s been in English as a verb, since the13th century and a noun since the 16th. Its popularity soared in the 1880s possibly thanks to a certain E.G. or E.S. Booze of Philadelphia who sold his whiskey in a bottle in the distinctive shape of a log cabin. It was unlabeled but people knew its source.

That failing, we’ve still got some hooch, a vile potion brewed by the Hoochino Indians of Alaska. Hopefully, all this has served like an early-morning drink of whiskey used on arising to shake off drowsiness — a real eye-opener (c.1861). Otherwise, just shut things down and sleep it off.

Take words with Larry @
twitter.com/wordswithlarry
facebook.com/wordswithlarry
pinterest.com/wordswithlarry

Check Larry on Huffington Post

More fun with words by Larry
bawdylanguage.com