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No Respect, I Tell Ya

So I’m researching (actually, flipping through a book and giggling at, though also trying to find good examples of) old hipster slang — that is, white hipster slang — and what, pray tell, did I find?

Goon from Saskatoon: An idiot, a square.

No respect, I tell ya. We get no respect.

Then again, it’s kind of true, and was probably even more true in the 1930s.

Another one I got a kick out of was Hot pillow joint, which is, of course, a hotel that rents out rooms by the hour. Just the kind of thing I can actually imagine seeing on the signboard of some cheapie hotel somewhere in the non-English speaking world, actually. Hmm.

By the way, the book I’m leafing through for these terms is Straight From the Fridge, Dad: A Dictionary of Hipster Slang by Max Décharné (New York: Broadway Books, 2000). It’s given me just about the most fun I’ve had with a “dictionary” in years.

Which is just about what you might expect for a dictionary with a cover like that, isn’t it?

Other fun ones:

A-Bomb juice: Moonshine liquor.

Adobe dollar: Mexican dollar.

Though it gives me weird visions of competing Silicon Valley currencies now…

Alabama lie detector: Police baton.

Barbecue stool: The electric chair.

Which is, by the way, a part of the penal system for which there are many slang terms in this book.

[The]Berries: Something mighty fine. (ie. “That baby was the berries.”)

Body scissors: Having sex.

Boil my cabbage: Blues slang for sex, much used by female singers of the 1920s.

Booze fight: A drinking spree.

Bust your conk: Work hard, be thorough.

Buzz: To pick someone’s pocket.

Chicken dinner: A pretty young girl.

Is that where “chick” comes from, or is this a play on an already existing term? I wonder…

Creep joint: Brothel where the customers are likely to have their pockets picked.

Croak sheet: Life insurance policy.

Doghouse: Double bass.

Dungaree doll: Hip girl wearing jeans.

Evaporate: Leave, depart, say goodbye.

Fresh fish special: Bad prison haircut given to new arrivals–the fresh fish…

Get your hambone boiled: Have sex. [A term usable by women, not just men.]

Gobble pipe: Saxophone.

Go pick yourself an orchid: Get lost, scram.

Yeah, I’m slowly picking my way through.

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