Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Slackers and singles

Final set of votes on weird word variations are in--I'll add mine in now and also the reason I've asked the questions. These were a bit more pointed than the others, I guess.

1) What is the piece of furniture you put your folded-up clothes into?
5 said "dresser," 2 "chest of drawers," and no one said "bureau." I say "dresser," too--I just thought everyone else said bureau and I was in the minority. I guess I just have a complex. Actually, this question was not particularly pointed.

2) What did you call the badass kids at your high school that just hung out smoking all day and never seemed to go inside the school?
1 for "stoner," 1 for "slacker," 1 for "kids in the smoke pit" and 2 didn't even have a name for this. No one said the term that was common at my school, which was "skids." I know, not very nice, and yet somehow clever because it sounds like "kids" only more messed up. I thought this was a local term, but I heard a Toronto girl use it the other day and thought maybe it was everywhere. But no?

3) And a reversed question: how do you define the word "single" as related to romantic relationships (as opposed to ice-cream cones or whathaveyou)? All 4 of the voters, plus me, define the term as some variation on "not in a relationship of any committed nature," Mark even going so far as to say, "Not to be confused with unmarried." But that's synchronicity is perhaps because all the voters are in approximately the same age range--I think I have found a generation discrepancy!

It all started a few weeks ago, when I read Sex and the Single Girl, which is, FYI, a really fun read, and slightly shocking both in showing how much things have changed (women were assumed to derive little fulfillment from work, not to be able to travel alone, and to want to kill themselves if they weren't married by 25) and how much they haven't (women who live alone are still regularly asked, "And do you really even bother to cook when it's" Correct answer: "No, I just get canned goods. I find if I just tip the can over my upturned mouth while standing on a piece of newspaper, there's almost no cleanup. More time for weeping!")

Then, about two weeks after I read it, I realized, that book wasn't about "single" girls at all. It was about girls in long- and short-term relationships with men they weren't married to. When I brought this issue to my mother, she said yes, that the single women were the unmarried ones, at least to her generation. So apparently I am single in that conception of the word, which is not likely to play very well within my non-legally-binding but certainly real relationship. Ahem.

So now we know--words are slippery, and will betray us at the slightest variant definition. This has been a most fascinating exercise, bloggy friends. Thank you for playing along.



Phil said...

Oh man! I was totally going to say "skids". Well, I was going to say "it depends; if they were skateboarding, then skaters. If they were poor, then skids," though the kids I knew as skids were already smoking in elementary school and dropping out in high school. And I'm from Waterloo, not Toronto, so.

Also, on government forms I'm single, because they have the same definition as your mom.

Andrew S said...

If you stand in the bathtub rather than on newspaper, the cleanup is easier still.

Kate S. said...

"Skids" was the standard term at my school as well and I hear it so rarely now that I had begun to think it was particular to my time and place--Saskatchewan in the 1980s. Evidently not.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

So the word "skid" exists in pockets all over the country, in some schools common, in some nonexistent?! What is the carrier of this term from one area to another? How does it travel so capriously?


Anonymous said...

chesterfield, couch, or sofa?
Just wondering.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...


To me "couch" and "sofa" are interchangeable, but "chesterfield" is a baffling, unsuable word (American parents).