I spend a lot of time observing and listening to people these days, well when I say people it is mainly ladies, ladies who lunch, ladies who shop, ladies who talk incessantly about pretty much nothing. How I hate the ones who stand in the main aisle, blocking my shop and talking drivel. I don’t care who’s died or what you are having for Christmas dinner, I don’t care about the dress you just bought, I don’t care that your dog feels the cold, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care!
I need to calm down, but honestly it’s enough to give you Tourettes. Not that screaming profanities at potential buyers is great customer service, so I try my best to hold back and mainly just think the things I want to say. It’s hard, but so far I think I’ve got away with it, although you never can be sure, you know how things slip out when you aren’t paying attention.
There are two words that come up in these ladies conversation so frequently that I spent today counting the number of times I heard them spoken out loud. Of course their are other words attached to them; absolutely, sooooooo, and dahling being just three, but these two words are the most frequent of flyers. The first of these words is CUTE and today this was said out loud within my earshot sixty-seven times, which is almost ten times an hour.
I wonder if these ladies know the derivation of the word. They use it all the time, perhaps assuming that it’s one of those old Anglo-Saxon monosyllables like fart. In reality it’s a fairly recent term. CUTE is a shortened form of ACUTE, which means sharp (like an acute pain) or clever (‘sharp’ also means smart as well). In the 18th and 19th centuries CUTE, which was initially written with an apostrophe in the beginning to stand for the missing ‘A’ wasn’t complimentary and it wasn’t until very recently that it came to mean attractive, pretty, or charming.
Anyway I hate the word, it’s an acute pain in the derriere as it seems to be used to describe everything from knickers to kitten ornaments, cup cakes to fluffy bobble hats; at least it does in the emporium of delights where I spend so much of my time.
The second word is even more overused. Today I heard it uttered one-hundred and twenty-seven times (GASP!) and that word is GORGEOUS. Women seem to say this word for no apparent reason at all usually prefixed by ‘Oh’ and ‘isn’t that’. Men on the other hand hardly use it, perhaps they know its derivation or maybe they just can't find anything to say it about. Gorge means ‘throat’ or ‘narrow channel’, thus a gorget is a piece of throat armor, and a gorgias was a neckerchief. The use of these fancy, colourful neckerchiefs gave rise to the word gorgayse, which meant ‘dressy’ or ‘showy’ and again was often used in a dismissive way, for instance: 'She is so gorgeous that her milliner is surely rich and her dressmaker a millionairess'.
Cute and gorgeous, just goes to show how times change. It's interesting that these two overused words both started out as meaning exactly the opposite what they are meant today. Still, that’s women for you, insult them and they'll still read it as a compliment.
P.S. Ladies - this is all extremely tongue in cheek.