10 Sep What’s the Pig Have to Do with It?
Decoding the language of the 1920’s is an art form. Even English language was more colorful then, in a time when alcohol was the illicit drug of choice and no one was particularly safe from mob crime or political corruption. As we move into the 2020’s, bringing the language back from a more vibrant time may class the joint up a bit, hey? So here’s your primer for the resurgence of the coming ‘20’s, or your next Prohibition Tour.
“Speak easy,” literally meant a place about which you were to keep your voice down, to avoid prying Temperance-loving fanatics or the feds hearing you. Loosely translated to the 2010’s this might boil down to “quit fucking posting to Twitter and Facebook about the party you’re throwing at your parents house, dumb teenager!” It’s more of a Twitter or Facebook private message than sharing it to your wall, sort of lingo for whispering to a trusted non-federal agent friend where you like to have a drink from time to time.
The term “blind pig” was born when an entrepreneurial Maine resident opened a tavern where he sold tickets to willing patrons to see his blind pig, and then gave them “free” drinks once inside. It was illegal to sell alcohol, but not to sell tickets to see your blind livestock. Think of this as being a woman in her twenties at the corner of Rush and Division on any given night. She’s not repaying you for that drink, you blind pig!
A “Bronx cheer” was used to describe booing someone. But this is Chicago so when we bring it back, we have plenty of sports teams to sub for “Bronx.” Take your pick and boo the bastards!
“Giggle water” is, you guessed it, alcohol! A catchphrase so adorably descriptive that it must be brought back well in advance of 2020, especially when paired with equally as clever, “ossified” meaning drunk. Try to remember how to pronounce “ossified” the next time you’ve had too much “giggle water.”
“Sob sister” was the term generally used to describe female reporters that had the audacity to try to get the woman’s perspective. Most notably, Maurine Watkins, author of the Broadway smash, “Chicago,” was described in the press as a “sob sister” for describing the female murderesses with sympathy. It’s highly unlikely Watkins let that bother her too much as she counted her cash from continuing sales of her hit production.
“Foot juice” translated to cheap wine and nothing has ever made more sense! Except for, perhaps, “to handcuff” which meant to become engaged to marry.
If you need to “go see a man about a dog,” you’re going out to buy whiskey.
So on January 1, 2020, let’s agree right now that we are going to go see a man about a dog, get ossified on giggle water, and avoid the foot juice, at the blind pig, while we give a resounding Cubs/Sox/Bears/Bulls cheer to a new decade. Fuck it, let’s just start now. See you at the speak easy, Chicago!
Written by Amy Williams