It’s been years since I’ve heard the expression, and “Please” and “Thank you” do seem to be at a premium these days.
But are people really getting ruder? Most sociologists seem to agree they are. Social media has enveloped us in separate, narcissistic bubbles, even people who ought to know better have forgotten their manners. Rudeness, it appears, is contagious.
I was always very aware of what I saw as rude behavior. When I was about four, my parents took my sister and me to the circus. Never a big fan of circuses, but there we were, sitting close to the front as the elephants paraded past us. Just in front of us, one large elephant, um, unburdened himself. As people wrinkled their noses, I said, in that piercing voice only the young seem to have, “Well! How RUDE!”
I’m an old soul. I love old television programs, movies, and historical fiction. When I read books from the Dark Ages, I marvel that anyone actually survived given the way people treated each other. So much for rudeness being new. And the mystery series I’m currently reading takes place in the Victorian-era United States. Yes, the Victorians had many strict codes of etiquette, but it was artificial in many ways. People treated each other terribly. I think we’ve had polite people and rude people both as long as we’ve had people. Social media and the news just make those stories of rudeness more accessible.
No one thinks they are the rude ones. But we know. Since we can’t change inherent rudeness, we can at least have a little fun with it in our own heads. Why not describe this behavior in more colorful terms? Let’s resurrect some slang to cope with today’s world.
Victorian Slang Terms for Undesirable Behavior:
Hornswoggler- a fraud or cheat.
Mumbling Cove-shabby person or unpleasant landlord.
Rat Bag- a bad person
Wooden Spoon- an idiot or someone who displays astounding stupidity.
Western United States Slang 1800s:
Bigmouth- a person who talks too much, usually about a subject the other person doesn’t want discussed or disclosed.
Bottom feeder- a dislikeable person, someone who abuses others.
Lunk or Lunkhead- slow- witted person
Sidewinder- someone who can’t be trusted, devious person
Whippersnapper- young, smart-aleck person.
Pill- unlikeable or bratty person
Wurp- wet blanket-type person
If you are a polite person, as I know you are, Dear Reader, all you can do is just keep your cool and respond to rudeness with politeness. After all, we know the Magic Words.