Help! People make fun of my outdated vocabulary

by on May 19, 2022 · 21 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Edwin Decker

Dear Ed, recently I used the word “bling” to describe my niece’s jewelry (in a complimentary way). I thought I was using a modern term, but she sneered that the word is passé and that saying it shows my age (I’m 42). This is not the first time she has criticized my word usage. She and others have commented that my vocabulary is often out of touch. I really don’t want to go around sounding like an old fogey so my question is, how can I tell when a term is outdated?

With appreciation,
Not That Old Fogey

Dear Fogey, for starters, don’t say “fogey.” Unless you’re describing a horror movie murder swamp with machine-generated fog (faux-gey), I’d stay away from that word.

Kidding aside, the way one determines if a term is outdated is simple. If you are over 30, assume that by the time you hear what you think is a new, hip word or phrase, it no longer is. Because you likely heard it from one of your over-30 peers, making the phrase uncool by definition. After all, what could kill a new, hip term faster than when Uncle Fogey and Auntie Grannypants start using them? Make sense, Daddy-O?

That said, I’m not down with the notion that it’s corny or inappropriate to use words and phrases that have outlived their coolness. That’s why I’ll still use terms like, “Daddy-O,” and “I’m not down” – regardless of what the under-30 word wardens have to say about it.

BestLifeOnline has an article called, “50 Outdated Words That Instantly Age You” with the subtitle, “These Words May Have Been Relevant at One Time but It’s Time to Update Your Lexicon.”


I’m not one to claim victim status, but isn’t it ageist to suggest that the words us old people use are inferior to modern ones? Why is the word “movie” considered superior to “moving picture?” Is a “remote” really better than a “clicker”? Seems to me the only qualitative difference between them is that one is old, and the other is new and if new is always better, how do you explain Valley Girl 2020?

BestLifeOnline says people should stop using the word “dope” as a synonym for marijuana. Screw that noise. Dope is the word the heads of my generation called “grass.” And grass was what the stoners before us referred to as “pot,” which is what we called dope when we were done calling it “dope,” or “weed,” which became “ganja” when reggae blew up, which became “chronic” when rap blew up and “cannabis” when legalization blew up. And while I find all of these synonyms to be amusing and/or compelling, none so much as dope. To me, dope is aces! Um, I mean the bomb! Err, no, it’s lit! Or is it fire? Christ, who can keep up anymore?

In the aforementioned BestLife article, they claim the phrase “mobile phone” is antiquated.

Et tu mobile phone?

“The last person to use the term ‘mobile phone,’ and sound cool was Tupac,” says BestLifeOnline. For some reason they don’t offer its hipper, newer alternative. Probably because there isn’t one. I mean, is it even possible to have a cool, bitchin’ word for a fucking phone?

In the same article, BestLife suggests that “hottie” should be eliminated from your vocabulary. Nope. Sorry. No chance. “Hottie” stays; along with “chick,” “hunk,” “beefcake” and “dame” (hubba hubba!) I take great satisfaction in peppering retro language into my vocabulary. Which is why I sometimes refer to my Google contacts as “Roledex,” my external hard drive as a “floppy disk” and an attempt to slaughter live fowl for dinner as “choking the chicken.” It’s part mockery, part nostalgia and part homage – like Tenacious D. doing acoustic heavy metal.

By the way, the previously mentioned BestLife article links to a companion piece called, “These Are All of the Slang Terms You’re Too Old to Use After 40”, and includes “cray-cray,” “Totes,” “YOLO” and “hangry,” to name a few.

Well make up your mind, BestLifeOnline! Should old people ditch old words to not sound out of touch or ditch modern words to not sound lame? Maybe BestLife should publish an article called, “Here Is a List of Terms Old People Are Permitted to Use,” subtitled, “There’s Only 100 Words on the List, But Old People Are Old and Won’t Be Needing Them Much Longer.”

Well, I say Bollocks to BestLife, Uncle Fogey, and anyone else who razzes your anachronistic lingo. You go ahead and do you. Throw around words like “galoshes,” “groovy” and “world wide web,” then sit back and watch them cringe. And enjoy that cringe. It’ll make them cringe even more. If you’re anything like me, you’ll gain life-sustenance from their whinging the way Dracula gets sustenance from drinking hottie blood.

Straight Up with a Twist Drinking Tip of the Month

When on a multi-day drinking binge, set the alarm on your car phone –  er, I mean mobile device – to go off at sunrise and again at sunset. This is to demarcate night and day so you’ll know whether to order bloody Mary’s or vodka Red Bulls.

Edwin Decker (of Ocean Beach) is not a licensed therapist or psychologist. In fact, his only qualification is the 25-plus years as a bartender listening to the liver-aching of desperados and dipsomaniacs. Heed his advice at your peril.

Send questions to


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman May 21, 2022 at 4:16 pm

I think this column is sick, Ed. Not slick — sick.


edwin decker May 23, 2022 at 8:43 am

That’s fire, Frances! Thanks!


Chris May 23, 2022 at 12:21 pm

This is a bitchen article Ed!!


edwin decker May 23, 2022 at 12:54 pm

Remember the song “Bitchin’ Camaro” by The Dead Milkmen?


Frank Gormlie May 23, 2022 at 7:27 pm

Cowabunga, dude!


edwin decker May 24, 2022 at 9:27 am



Frank Gormlie May 24, 2022 at 10:17 am

There was a concerted effort back in the early 70s to discourage the use of the word “chick” for women or girls. The OB Rag in fact ran a full page “public service announcement” with the text “Women Are Not Chicks” with a large cartoon of an actual chick (baby chicken). Since then, progressives have tried to remove gender-based language from daily speech and writing.


sealintheselkirks May 24, 2022 at 3:40 pm

Ed, I’m completely in favor of using the term weed because dope is far more likely to apply to someone who has imbibed too much alcohol in terms of thinking processes and behavior exhibited. Booze turns people into dopes!

Besides, growing like a week is a good thing!

‘Dope’ according to my 1944 Webster’s Complete Reference Dictionary and Encyclopedia:

thick greasy liquid; a preparation for strengthening and tightening airship fabric, any narcotic; one addicted to use of such drugs; information concerning race horses on which to base betting: to plan; [slang], to stupify or cheer, as with a drug.

As this dictionary was published… 7 years after the Marijuana Tax Act, so saying DOPE is definitely a seriously outdated word.

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” Ronald Reagan

Ahahahahaha. That is so dopey as to defy belief. Except it worked and a large portion of the citizenry are still unable to think rationally on this subject…
Frank: you might want to change the name of the RAG as it definitely has a gender-based negative connotation in our society when it comes to certain monthly behavioral changes. What were you thinking back then, eh?



edwin decker May 25, 2022 at 10:57 am

Hey STS, I must say, the fact that you don’t think the word “dope” or “dopey” applies to stoners makes me wonder if you’ve ever smoked pot yourself or been around anyone who has. I mean, I can’t count on all my digits the amount of times me or one of my friends have searched for a lighter for 10 minutes before realizing it was in my/their hands. That’s just one of a myriad of truly dopey things we did while baked and Reagan’s Hyperbolic comparison wasn’t as far off as you think ; )

On another note, good point about The Rag and it’s negative female connotation – ESPECIALLY, because it’s got the letters “O.B.” in front of it ROFL


Frank Gormlie May 25, 2022 at 11:27 am

Okay, you guys have had your jr high fun. See this from Miriam-Webster:
Definition of rag
1a : a waste piece of cloth
b rags plural : clothes usually in poor or ragged condition
c : clothing the rag trade
2 : something resembling a rag
3 : newspaper especially : a sleazy newspaper

From urban dictionary:
A newspaper, magazine, or other type of printed publication not worthy of your respect. Something with which you would wipe up a mess, as with a cloth rag.
I started my career in journalism by working at a small newspaper. It was a rag, but the editors gave me some good advice.


Mat Wahlstrom June 10, 2022 at 1:51 pm

Here’s another take on this, from a story about an alternative periodical with a Jewish perspective in Oakland thirty years ago: “Given that newspapers were often called ‘rags’ in those days, Fanny chose the name Shmate (‘rag,’ in Yiddish), mainly since Chutzpah was already taken by another rag. ‘I got more hate mail over the name than anything else,’ he said. ‘People called me disgusting and a self-hating Jew.'”


Geoff Page May 25, 2022 at 12:26 pm

” something resembling a rag?” Wouldn’t that just be… a rag? Now what did I do with my lighter…


sealintheselkirks May 25, 2022 at 2:33 pm

Funny, Ed! I didn’t catch the OB part until you mentioned it!

But Ed, I grew up in a family of ‘functional’ alcoholics. I saw what it did to people, the broken families etc etc that I also went through as an MB kid. Smoking bud was far less damaging in my estimation.

No hangovers and clear head in the morning is a plus I think along with watching so many of my friends in OB and MB fall apart and screw their lives up using booze rather than weed (though most used both).

But yes there are people that get seriously dopey smoking high test I will admit. Remember when Sensi showed up, and then Humboldt started trickling into the beach area? Boy did that shift the consciousness around a bit, eh?

I mostly grow sativa and hybrid strains and tend to avoid the Indica couch-lock ones. I do keep some of that on hand for those days when the body hurts so much I can’t walk up the stairs, though… And the CBD topical paste we make works pretty dang well, too, but bud is added to each batch as it seems to work better in conjunction with the THC not apart from it. That’s 25 years of a grower neighbor’s experience making it which started with his mom’s arthritis… Of course you can’t eat it because you’ll test positive but it sure does work on injured backs and aching hips and strained muscles etc etc. There are injured people around here that swear by it.
Frank, thanks for putting up with our Jr High fun. Was that a long time ago or what? And of course I knew the definition you meant but I like the ‘cleaning up messes’ one the best. The Rag has certainly outed a number of those over the years! Definitely not the one saying ‘not worthy of respect’ because of what it has promoted has certainly been worthy.

And Geoff, you’ll find that lighter in the last place you put it!



Lyle May 25, 2022 at 5:11 pm

“the last place you put it” ignores the possibility that someone else used it in the meantime.

The way I heard this cliche was “the last place you look for it”.


Geoff Page May 26, 2022 at 2:09 pm

Excellent, man! I thought that lighter was history and I was done looking but now I’ll look in one last place. Thanks, dude! The gas stove is rough on the moustache.


Geoff Page May 25, 2022 at 3:47 pm

Thanks, dude, I never even thought to look, there?


Jaybird May 26, 2022 at 1:05 pm

I hope it is universally understood that your missing lighter is always going to be found in your getting high Buddy’s pocket…;)


edwin decker May 26, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Your sunglasses are on your head


Jaybird May 26, 2022 at 9:19 pm

Dude, thank you that is Totally Rad..!


edwin decker May 27, 2022 at 8:02 am

Ok boomer ; )


Chris B June 14, 2022 at 11:01 am

Tits and ass, Ed. To the max..
Oh, sorry. Bet, no cap.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: