Time to step out and party a bit, an occasion to put on the dog — affect some sophistication and urbanity.
It all began back in the 11th century with King Boleslaus II of Poland who began the tradition during a war with Russia.
Concerned about the increasing incidence of infidelity on the home front and its impact on troop morale, he legislated that children born of such trysts be taken to the woods to die and the offending women be obligated to nurse puppies in their stead. They were also required to take these dogs wherever they went, resulting in their appearing publicly with them on their lap.
The practice, however, proved so commonplace and ultimately so popular, that it also became fashionable, giving birth to the concept of the lap dog.
Lapdogs were the rage in America after the Civil War, especially King Charles and Blenheim spaniels, imperious looking dogs very distant from the mutts most people knew.
Seeing these snooty dogs pampered by their pretentious owners inspired the charge of putting on the dog which began as college slang at Yale in the 1860s and has been hounding us ever since.
It’s the stuff of which legends are made, or at least fables. Prior to 1425, things fabulous were “mythical” or “legendary” from the French fabuleux and the Latin fabulosus, “celebrated in fable.” Not until 1609 did they also became “incredible.”
“Incredible” was the reaction of teenagers the world over to the Beatles. Breathlessly, they reduced fabulous to fab in the 1950s, making it the vogue around 1960, concluding with The Fab Four, the early nickname of the greatest pop rock group ever.
There’s been lots of talk about “The fifth Beatle.” Guesses as to his identity range from manager Brian Epstein to Stu Sutcliffe, an early member of the group who missed out on all the fame and glory.
On September 11, 1962, The Fab Four took its final form when Ringo Starr joined John, Paul, and George, replacing Pete Best on the drums, making Pete probably — dare we say it — our “best” bet for number five.
“Yeh, yeh, yeh,” you say, a common corruption of “yes” (also “yeah”) since the 1920s and a component of their song “She loves you,” which for 14 years was Britain’s all-time best-selling 45 r.p.m. record. You do remember 45s, don’t you? Fabulous!