Learn to let go
It’s easy to date (or age) yourself by using words you’ve grown up hearing. Key indicator: If a young person’s eyebrows shoot up when you say “VCR” or “How’s tricks?” you’ll know—a bit too late—that you’re now an old fuddy-duddy. But, don’t say “fuddy-duddy” or any of the other words on this list, for that matter, unless you’re looking for a sympathy laugh.
We had to do it. It seems wise to define this gem for those who don’t know it because it’s so funny. A fuddy duddy is someone very old fashioned, out of touch, and probably a bit stuffy. At any rate, it’s a term that might date you pretty quick, so be careful with it. Today, the phrases dad or old fart (still in use!) may do the job instead.
Oh, dear. Yes, this phrase was bandied about not so long ago. Back when the internet was new, clicking your way around (and waiting forever for the page to load) was called web surfing. Since the internet isn’t quite so novel these days, it doesn’t require its own extreme sports reference . . . and neither does television. Channel surfing, meet streaming and binge-watching.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, it wasn’t uncommon to ask, “How’s tricks?,” when you encountered a buddy on the street (meaning “How are things?”). Women didn’t say it; men did.
Perhaps the reason lies in the rumored root of the phrase, said to be related to the men who managed ladies of the night back in the 1930s. (A customer is still referred to as a trick.)
Cell phones have made long-distance call a meaningless phrase. If you have a landline (you’ve already given away your age), we still think long-distance no longer applies, so be wary of any long-distance provider calls . . . .
VCR and videotape
It’s a tough habit to break, but using the word tape when discussing recording audio or video is clearly outdated. Videotapes and VCRs (from video cassette recorder) have been rendered obsolete in this digital world. Start recording those precious moments on your smartphone instead.
If someone calls you a wet-blanket, they are probably older than, say, any Kardashian sibling and not very nice. A wet-blanket—named for the very thing that one might smother a flame with—is usually concerned with decorum or consequences when others are not, and they may put a damper on the party.
It was used frequently in the 1800s as a verb: “She would often wet-blanket her friend’s proposals to swim au naturel.” Not to be confused with a wet-sock, which is even crueller, as it means someone who is pretty useless and who may not even be invited to the party in the first place.
Before MP3s (another outdated term) and iTunes, Sony brought you the Walkman\. It turned the music and portable-electronics industries on their collective heads.
Released in the summer of 1979, the first cassette Walkman ran on a pair of AA batteries. You popped in your Bee Gees cassette and adjusted the lightweight headphones for a personal music experience. Other variants followed, including the CD Discman and the TV Watchman.