H is for Hanky Panky

The Alphabet Series


New Thoughts on Words

H is for hanky panky, two words joined by alliteration, not meaning. We hear the lyrics of Tommy James and the Shondells, “My baby does the hanky panky”, and picture a couple making out in a 1966 Mustang convertible. There is a mischievous fooling around atmosphere and know the girl is easy.

But what is hanky panky?

Webster’s (Standard Reference Works Publishing Co. 1956) definition; The meaningless professional talk of a juggler or magician, jugglery or legerdemain.

Sounds like politicians talking about the sequestration.

The term hanky panky is sighted in the first edition of ‘Punch‘ magazine Volume 1 September 1841. In London court, a con-man said to the judge,

“Only a little hanky-panky, my lud. The people likes it; they loves to be cheated before their faces. One, two, three-presto-begone. I’ll show your ludship as pretty a trick of putting a piece of money in your eye and taking it from your elbow, as you ever beheld.”

A later reference is from George Bernhard Shaw’s Geneva, 1939:

She: No hanky panky. I am respectable; and I mean to keep respectable.
He: I pledge you my word that my intentions are completely honorable.

Hanky panky defined as unethical, and referenced as Hocus Pocus or Hokey Pokey, grew in popularity when sexy and illicit acts were included.

It was playful and I recall teaching kindergartners the hokey pokey to practice eye hand coordination skills.

The closest we can get to that ridiculous fun for all is the Harlem Shake.

Google Hanky Panky and you will discover many companies sell lingerie and naughty items, but only one company makes the lace.

599290_10151373267023315_1455748430_nKlauber Brothers is a sixth generation family business and creators of an exclusive Signature Lace for Hanky Panky, a leader in intimate apparel.

The Klauber family was lucky to escape the treacherous trickery that forced them to surrender their business and never considered they would be in the  hanky panky business. They fled Nazis Germany on the SS Manhattan. It was the last boat to America in 1939.

Their story and craftmanship adds sobering thoughts to hanky panky, but I still hear lyrics in my head and think about a randition of the Harlem Shake, me mouthing the words…My baby does the hanky panky. I saw her walkin’ on down the line You know I saw her for the very first time A pretty little girl standin’ all alone “Hey pretty baby, can I take you home?”

…just saying


G is for Gaudy


Aging & Attitude

The Alphabet Series – New Thoughts on Words

Gaudy is a word I heard as a child. My mother used the adjective to describe styles not to her liking. Designs she considered garish, ornate, flashy, kitschy, tasteless, vulgar, and extravagant. Our neighbor’s orange velvet sectional is a good example. The French Provincial Couch covered in plastic stuck to the back of your thighs in the summer and cracked when you sat in the winter. The iridescent fluted fruit bowl filled with shiny fake red apples and ornate oranges that decorated their dining room table was in my mother’s words, “poor taste.”

She told me “Gaudy is derived from an eccentric architect, famous for constructing some God-awful cathedral in Spain.”

The true impact of the word is captured by a visual of the works of Antoni Gaudi, the architect. As an adult I was fortunate to visit Barcelona and view the site she talked about.

Gaudi, born in 1852, is famous for his elaborate ornate architectural style. The Sagrada Familia  has been under construction since 1882 and expected to be completed in 2024. That is a 142 year project funded by private donations.

My mother knew about Gaudi but learned her sense of style from her father, Achilles DeSalvo, Pop-Pop to me.

Called Charlie, and never trendy, faddish or snazzy, he knew how to dress.  His family owned a tailor shop in Manhattan called DeSalvo & DeSalvo.

I loved him dearly.

Summertime, Saturday morning, Pop-Pop would take the Long Island Railroad to the Westbury station. He arrived wearing a blue seersucker suit, straw hat and spectator shoes, an afternoon addition of the Herald Tribune under his arm.

He wore cuff-links and his nails were polished.

We waited with great expectation for him to remove his suit jacket, and get comfortable in a chair. Surrounded by his four grandchildren he would unwrap one Mounds Bar and divide each half,  in half  for us to share.

But the best was yet to come.

Concealed in a breast pocket was a cigar.  The  cigar ban was presented to one of us and worn as a ring, for the day or week…depending on how long we made it last.

We never moaned or complained. We stood with hope and felt his love.

My grandfather got me my first real job at the Plaza Hotel.

Occasionally he would say, “Meet me on the northwest corner of 55th street and Madison on Tuesday at noon, and we’ll go to lunch”.

I did.

There was nothing ornate, flashy, gaudy or extravagant about his love. It was genuine. His style memorable.

 ….just saying

F is for Flummoxed Filibuster

  The Alphabet Series –  New Thoughts on Words


Things looked good for Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, this week when he announced he would filibuster the confirmation vote of John Brennan as Director of the CIA, the old- fashioned way, by talking and said, “I will speak until I can no longer speak.”

Evidently, the old-fashion filibuster has lost popularity and there is a non-talking version making a filibuster like phone sex. You do not need to moan, and staying on the phone is optional. Rand Paul could declare a filibuster and kept his mouth shut. Then, sixty votes would be necessary to break the gridlock and clear the floor for vote.

Visions of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” came to mind, and a general impression of Paul as a man of consciousness prevailed.

Rand Paul, the son of Ron Paul, said he did not oppose the confirmation, but this was an opportunity to make a point and find out for sure if the President’s policy on international use of drones includes shooting American citizens on United States soil. Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter did not eliminate the possibility.

Paul said in a statement, “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront to the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,”

Not everyone agreed and in the morning, people were flummoxed, you know confused bewildered and baffled when Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticized Rand Paul calling the filibuster “a political stunt that cheapens the serious discussion about US policy to the realm of the ridiculous.”

Paul held his ground, would not admit to shooting himself in the foot, and considered Eric Holder’s letter of clarification released later in the day, a surrender.

You can agree with Paul, the government’s drone policy needs discussion.

Is that all this was about? Because it was a flummoxed filibuster.

…. just saying

E is for Egghead – The Alphabet Series

New Thoughts on Words

Egghead is the word that comes to mind as the author walks into the room and stands by the podium arranging stuff. He is a real intellectual, not the Archie Bunker meat-head kind.

Stringy white hair is having a temper tantrum, Albert Einstein style, on his head and now out of the sun, his dark glasses change to un-tinted. A deliberate part in his hair suggests a highbrow image.

I imagine him a smart aleck fifth grader hissing answers beneath his breath to mock a teacher. Now he is all grown up, and an untidy appearance creates a scholar’s impression.

His introductory comments are about passion, and a halo of frizz triggers interest, as he instructs us to sit our ass in a chair and write.. His manner is not contemptuous, just slightly superior and mildly aloof. The overall effect tells the class who he is, or  wants to be, and leaves a contrived impression.

Doubt may be his intent.

He starts looking old after lunch.

Standing still, the laces on his Rockport shoes come undone. A knee cracks as he bends to ceremoniously tie the lace and continue to demonstrate his superior IQ, lecturing the would be writers about point of view.

The mystic and effervescence fad as the day ends, and it becomes clear it is a bad hair day. However, he did a good job of teaching character details, or am I being kind?

D is For Disappear /The Alphabet Series

New Thoughts on Words

D is for disappear as in the New York Times Best Seller novel, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn.

Nick and Amy Dunne, two out of work New York City writers, move to Nick’s childhood home in North Carthage, Missouri when they learn Nick’s mother is fatally ill.

Nick is a journalist.

Amy writes surveys or opinion questionnaires.

Example; which of the following will lead to personal happiness.

A.  Caring more about others  than yourself

B.  Discovering a passion

C.  Exercising and eating well daily

D.  All of the above

E.  Other_________________________________

Nick persuades Amy to invest the last of her Trust Fund in a business for him and his twin sister, Margo. They name the bar, “The Bar” and Nick appears a loser when Amy disappears on their wedding anniversary.

The reader knows it is a matter of time for the husband to become the prime suspect.

Gillian Flynn has written a plot driven novel that I read quickly and was reviewed favorably, but I could have put the book down easily.

“As The Washington Post proclaimed, her work ‘draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.’ Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit with deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.”

Amy’s disappearance is not as in vanish, perish or cease to exist. Her vanishing act is one of revenge and dysfunction, concocted when she discovers Nick’s infidelity. Victimized and  bamboozled Amy plans to get even and does.

On the other line of a happiness survey she would write all the below;

A.  If you can’t have the one you love make sure no one else can either.

B.  Make everyone who hurts or disappoints you suffer for the rest of their lives.

C.  Inflicting pain on others is key to personal happiness.

Gillian says “she was not a nice little girl,” and “Libraries are filled with stories on generations of brutal men, trapped in a cycle of aggression. I wanted to write about the violence of women”

“The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement — we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side. Dark sides are important. They should be nurtured like nasty black orchids.”

Isn’t disappearing better?

…Just saying

C is for Curmudgeon


New Thoughts On Words

C is for Curmudgeon

Cranky, cross, and Cantankerous


It’s someone else’s fault

Is being a Curmudgeon a choice, or about loss?

Crappy, critical and uncompromising

Like a Republican who is sore

Callous, cautious, careful

A Curmudgeon ruminates the same thought

Perhaps their hippocampus is shrinking, their dreams forgotten, or tossed

Left alone to commiserate

A connoisseur without a cause

Realizes a critical point

Dick Chaney could be their new boss

A special thanks to my friend Mary for suggesting the word Curmudgeon and to Michael Ray King for encouraging writers to write poetry.

B is for Bootylicious Bouillabaisse, The Alphabet Series


New Thoughts On Words

B is For Bootylicious Bouillabaisse

    Bootylicious is on my mind. It happens to writers. Words jump into our minds and refuse to leave. I could blame Beyonce` Knowles and the Super Bowl; but the truth is I like the word. Its rhythm somehow attaches itself to bouillabaisse and bingo, becomes an onomatopoeia dancing around my head.

The American language evolves quickly and popularity is why Webster includes a word in the dictionary. Merriam Webster has a paid staff that scans publications and records the frequency of a new word or expression before deciding.

The Webster dictionary defines booty as spoil taken from an enemy in war or loot. In the real world Bootylicious is slang and a compound word joining booty or buttock with delicious. The song “Bootylicious” made the term well-known.

Words are added yearly. Recent additions are cougar, helicopter parent, soccer- mom and EEVO an original by Rachael Raye.  A few of the words for 2012 are: man cave, coperniciu, energy drink, game changer, gastropub, mash-up.

So what does Bootylicious Bouillabaisse bring to my mind?

Picture Beyonce` dressed in a black corset and spike high heels joining  Julia Child in the kitchen for a cooking lesson.

We will need something like the time machine in “Back to the Future” to transport Beyonce` to Marseille to learn from the American chef and food writer.

Close your eyes and imagine  Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie and Julia if you have to.

Julia opens the conversation with,  “to me the telling flavor of bouillabaisse comes from two things: the Provençal soup base — garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, fennel, saffron, thyme, bay, and usually a bit of dried orange peel — and, of course, the fish — lean, firm-fleshed, soft-fleshed, gelatinous, and shellfish.”[3] Wikipedia

Beyonce`  questions the chef, “Lean and firm, that part girl I know what you talkin bout. Gelatinous…I know you gotta work your jelly. Gelationous? Got to text Jay Z. He’ll know bout that.”

Julia emphasises the B saying, “bouillabaisse is a fish stew. You combine two actions, blhir (French to boil) and abaissar (to reduce).

Beyonce` says with an attitude and one hand on her hip,  “I can boil fine, real fine. She shakes her booty to mimic Julie’s stirring

Julia’s voice crescendos saying,  “Not a hard boil, a slow steady bubbling.” And purses her lips saying ” Then turn it real low and slow.”

Beyonce` says “I gotcha, girl”

Bon  Appetite

                       ….just saying

A is for Acerbic -The Alphabet Series


   The Alphabet Series is an approach bloggers use to infuse new life or creativity into their writing.

   “Acerbic” is the first post in my series “New Thoughts For Words”.

   “Acerbic” draws on personal experience and is published in FWA, Let’s Talk by Peppertree Press.

   The challenge for that Anthology was to use a dialogue format to present your short story.

   To tell you the conversation below is between two women in a doctor’s waiting room is cheating.

                                                                                                                                                                                         …just saying


“Unacceptable!  My time is of value, too.  Why aren’t you complaining?”

“I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”

“This is ridiculous.  I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes.  My appointment was for nine fifteen.  What time was your appointment?”

“Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?”

“It’s better if everyone is out of sorts.  I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”

“Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”

“Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”

“You’re upset.  Why don’t you thumb through a magazine?  There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one.  Have you been there?”

“You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what?  Be happy I have to wait for a man, I pay to tell me I’m sick.  And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either.  I’m Acerbic.  My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”

“Acerbic?  Is that … American or … a religion?”

“Acerbic is a way of life.  You got a problem with that?  Our dispositions are generally crabby.  We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”

“Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”

Golly gee?  Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour.  Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed?  That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable.  These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”

“His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious.  Are you really Acerbic?”

“Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic.  We don’t like friendly.  People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’  Although things are changing.  Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”

“You don’t mind if I read my book?’

“Of course I mind.  I get it.  Why not say shut-up?  Add please if you have to.  It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”

“No, tell me about your life.”

“Actually I had a great childhood.  We owned a small cabin not far from Route. 95 below the Georgia border.  Dad named it Acerbia.  It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations.  You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”

“Was that fun?”

“Are you kidding, of course, the best.  By the way, they call me Unfortunately.  I’m Unfortunately Fortunato.  What’s your name?  Not that I care.”

“Unfortunately is a first name?  And Fortunato your family…?”

“Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”

“That had to be a difficult name for a child.  Did she think it was a mistake?”

“No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers.  Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”

“Was that a surprise?”

“They still haven’t called anyone.  All they do is talk on the phone.  Someone else has to complain.  You can do it.  I like your pink eyebrows.”

“My eyebrows are pink?”

“Yea, they match your lipstick, compliment that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”

“My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”

“Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”

“It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”

“Most seniors get a little forgetful.  It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are.  You know glasses magnify things, right?”

“I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them.  I do not need them to read a large print book.”

“Did you hear that?  The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato.  That’s me, Unfortunately.  Doc’s ready for me.  Have a rotten, day”

“You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!”

P.S. I welcome your comments.