It’s 1920s week! Isn’t that just the berries?
While reading Libba Bray’s The Diviners, one thing Stephanie, Kati, and I were all really impressed with was the dialogue – the main character speaks exactly like a flapper. Well, exactly like how I’d picture a flapper would speak, at any rate. Since I wasn’t around in the 1920s myself, I can only speculate. 😉 This word usage really helped set the scene and made me believe I was truly experiencing the 1920s.
I have since decided that the 1920s had the best words, and I’ve been sprinkling in some jazz age slang whenever I can because honestly, it’s the bee’s knees. Want to talk like a flapper? It’s easy! Here’s a few of my favorite words to get you started:
Bee’s Knees – means an extraordinary/wonderful person or thing. But don’t get stuck on this one expression because you can swap it out for any number of nonsensical phrases. Examples? The cat’s pajamas, the elephant’s eyebrows, the ant’s pants, the snake’s hips, the eel’s ankle…do you see a pattern here? Basically, anything that doesn’t really exist on an animal is fair game. And, actually, some things that do exist, like the cat’s meow…so I guess there’s some wiggle room. Play with it.
Applesauce – an expletive, much more fun (and appropriate) to yell at someone who is being ridiculous, like “ah, applesauce!” You can also replace it with “horsefeathers.” Definitely a word I plan on using.
The berries – means the best. As in “it’s the berries!” This one is easy to slip into conversations, so a good starter word for all you wannabe flappers out there.
Cash or check – means to kiss now or later. You can also say “the bank’s closed,” meaning no kisses for you. Speaking of banks, money was often referred to as “kale,” or “clams,” so if you need to borrow from someone, you might ask if they can spot you a few clams. Of course nowadays, you’d probably just get blank looks in return, especially if you’re hanging around with a bunch of wet blankets (people who are no fun).
Jake – ok. Usually used like, “everything is jake.” If it’s not, then you’d better blouse (get out of there).
And there are so many more. Really, this is just the start. There are tons of websites devoted to 1920s era slang, like this one, or this one, or even this one, so look around and have fun.
Speaking of fun, over the weekend Kati and I put on our glad rags…well, jeans and T-shirts, at any rate, and headed over to San Francisco to meet up with Jae from Lit and Scribbles. We first met Jae in person almost exactly a year ago at the Backspace Writer’s Conference, so when we heard she’d be in town for a bit, we knew it was time for another MYSTIC SCRIBBLES ADVENTURE!
Pic courtesy of Jae from Lit and Scribbles
It was so nice seeing Jae again and catching up. Other highlights? Some very tasty thai food followed by some truly excellent gelato, and not dying on Jae’s questionable fire escape…I’m a little terrified of heights, but I didn’t want to be a piker, so I climbed on out there. And I’m glad I did, because there was such a swell view! Jae has a really cute scribble illustrating this event at her blog, so definitely check that out.
At the end of the night we celebrated with hot chocolates all around (this is rapidly becoming a Mystic Scribbles tradition), and then it was time for Kati and I to scram in order to catch our train home.
So. Stay tuned, because 1920s week continues tomorrow – I’m not sure what Kati’s planning on talking about, but I’m sure it’ll be copacetic. 😉