Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Two of my favorite activities, which I have espoused on in previous stories, are golf and poker. Each taps into a certain part of my personality and psyche that gives me pleasure. Golf is just a cool game - an all-consuming world-within-a-world activity that pushes your mental fortitude to its limits. Poker is a great interplay of luck and skill with a healthy dose of human psychology thrown in for good measure.

Ah, who am I kidding. What I really like is the jargon of each.

I love jargon. It is that ‘secret society’ language that makes you totally hip to those that know, and delightfully mysterious to those that don’t. Those that know give you that look in the eye & nod of the head that says “Dude I’m with ya.” Those that think you’re speaking gibberish tend to conclude “Either he knows something I don’t or he’s off his medications.” I am actually okay with either assumption.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. I have played golf for over 40 years now. So I have more or less grown up with golf lingo. I learned at an early age that I didn’t hit the ground behind my teed-up ball, I drop-kicked a heeler. I didn’t pull-hook the ball into the trees, I double-crossed on a fade. And for crying out loud, I did NOT slice the ball. I over-cut it.

In fact, that was the excuse Phil Mickelson used when he failed (jargon: he choked, spit the bit) to win the 2006 U.S. Open by making a 6 (Double-bogey, or just ‘Double”) on the final hole. On the tee, instead of playing safe he tried to hit driver (Let The Big Dog Eat) by curving it around the corner (fade). Instead he hit it waaaaay to the left, a major slice (Banana Ball), winding up in the trees (jail, no man’s land, dead). He then hit his next shot in the bunker (cat box, beach), before hitting onto the green (dance floor) and three-putting (three-jack, playing hockey). When asked about the slice he hit off the tee, he quickly interrupted the questioner - “I did not slice it. I over-cut it.”

Atta boy, Phil.

With poker, I am more of a newcomer, having only played seriously for about three years now. As such, it has been much more of an educational process in the ways of Poker Jargon. For example, when I would have, say, a five & six card in the hole, and the flop would come up 8-9-Q, I would think, ‘Okay, I have a chance at a straight here’ - WRONG. What I found out is what I had was a Gutshot four-outter requiring a major suckout in order to hit. Once there was a hand with three of us still in it, one was all-in, and I made a bet after that player was all-in. The third player in the hand was apoplectic - "What the f*** are you doing betting into a dry pot when you don't have the nuts?" I had no idea what she meant...but it sounded kinda hot.

What is it with jargon? I mean, the English language has provided us millions of words at our disposal, so you would think there would be more than adequate ones to simply state what we are thinking. But noooo. Where’s the fun in that? Instead we have to come up with new, more colorful terms that gives us the air of in-the know.

Which reminds me. The other day when I was playing golf, I had a 40-foot putt that stopped an inch short of the hole, going dead into the middle. That’s called a South America putt. Why?

Because all it needed was one more revolution.


Dawn said...

Excellent! I love jargon too. And colloquialisms.

Clemzilla said...

Man, you really know how to 'lock it in the pocket' when you want to. 'Squeaky tight.' It's nice to encounter a good groove by someone who knows how to work it.

I love jazz jargon. I'm a sucka for that colorful, playful twist on the Queen's Emglish.

Jargon is our chance to be creative and playful with the language that unites us.

Words be important. Thanks for sharing some with us.