The Spoken Social Niceties
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the expressions, “Enjoy yourself,” “Have a good time,” or (gah) “Have a good one” were not stated, much less thought. The distinct overtones and subtexts of sexuality and licentiousness were noted; oh, yes, they were noted.
I feel a certain unease whenever someone whom I do not know in the least, such as a store clerk, tells me to “Have a good one.”
A good what?
In my fictional writing work, I strive to maintain the vraisemblance of the language of the day. The more that I venture into the linguistic lexicons of the past, the more at home I feel. In fact, I prefer the idioms, expressions, locutions, and parlance of the past, the distant past. Whenever I must interact with the latest jargon, it’s a bit of a shock. No, it’s a complete shock. The piffle and patter sound like Greek to me.
I do not intend any insult to the Ancient tongue, so I shall state that since I have never actually heard that form of Greek, the neologisms resound with vulgarism.
Part of my verbal and literary discipline is due to my refusal to pay attention to most of the latest slang, over the course of decades. A person can most definitely be dated by his or her tendency to exclaim: COOL! or BUMMER!
The lingo of the 1960s and 1970s have lingered far too long into this dark night of the 2020s. I must admit, however, that the Hippie order, “Give me a break”, was, and is, entirely consistent with the grabby, greedy sense of narcissistic entitlement that marks the Boomers as the most self-absorbed generation in recently recorded history.
The use, or overuse, of synthetic words, of buzz words that were supposed to buzz, that semantic atrocity started in the 1920s, got much worse in the 1950s, and reached an all-time nadir in the spoiled-brat patois of the Hippies. The Millennials have attempted to outdo the plastic nature of that plastic dialect, but the phrases and gibberish all seem computer-generated.
Even more annoying to me are the imperative statements that COMMAND a person what to do or say or think or feel:
Have a good one. Have a nice day. Have fun. Have a great time.
Have Have Have Have Have.
The uttered onslaught of that imperative verb has become the mantra of our materialistic times. Yet another queasy-causing but boorish statement of command is:
Stay calm and ______.
Stay quiet and we’ll all get along!
Dear Husband has informed me of a particularly illogical and annoying rudeness that goes hand-in-hand with the oppressive ignorance that occurs within the Service Sector Culture (and even in Office World).
Since March of 2020, my Spousal Unit has borne the heavy duty of engaging in the service sector culture because — starting with the First in the Nation-Golden State Lockdown — I’ve very rarely entered a brick-and-mortar store.
The customer is handed a cup of frothed-up java, and he says, “Thank you.”
The response from the server should be: “You’re welcome.” It is, however, “No problem.”
Which is indicative of A Big Problem.
What used to be known as The Servant Class is now a rather classless class that serves who knows what to whom, for whatever reason. Cannot possibly be money, or a wage, that Living Wage upon which one is supposed to subsist. The job of waitress was one that I held, for many years, with dignity and decorum, and decisive prowess and aplomb.
I was a plucky and proud member of The Servant Class. At the very least, the job provided one meal a day in the midst of my youthful poverty. Presently, the concept of serving food for pay in a public arena is infra dig to the lettered lackeys without marketable skills. They get elected to Congress where they feel right at home among the talentless flunkeys!
The use of the majestic, or royal, We, is another bungling of the tongue that Americans commit in yet another ghastly attempt to sound British. Good Lord! We’re mongrels of a constitutional republic that freed from the handcuffs (and fisticuffs) of a King!
Get used to being American. And, perchance, be proud of it!
I shall endeavour to change my ornery societal ways by setting a good example. I’ll be even more sociable in the 19th century mode while I wish for others whatever it is I wish for them — through these unambiguous but polite phrases:
I wish you a pleasant voyage.
I wish you all a good day.
I wish you a lovely evening.
I wish you a delicious meal.
I trust you will find pleasure in this adventure.
I trust you can find your way to the door.
I hope you will find the food to your liking.
And, if you do not find this bit of advice to your liking, please contact me at your earliest convenience. I shall reply at my earliest convenience, which may not be convenient at all, but, for the sake of civility, I shall pretend otherwise.
Go in Peace.