Monday, April 15, 2013

Mad Libs

Mad Men tries so hard to get period detail right, which is why I've been annoyed the four or five times I've heard someone in it say "waiting on" rather than "waiting for." In the 60s, I don't think any well spoken person in New York would say "waiting on" outside a restaurant.

In the latest episode, "The Collaborators," set in 1968, one of the characters uses another phrase I doubt was in common parlance back then--"taking meetings." It's used so often today no one thinks twice, but there was a time not that long ago when the idiom would have just confused people. How do you "take" a meeting? You schedule them, or hold them, or attend them.

Yes, it was definitely in use in the 70s--enough so that Woody Allen mocked it in Annie Hall (1977): "All the good meetings are taken." But that was the point--this hip new term sounds ridiculous.  In general, that section of the movie was Allen's examination of the sorry culture of Southern California, where every allegedly cutting edge thing people did seemed foreign and absurd to a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker.

But I'm guessing it was fairly new when Woody noticed it.  Why attack something that had been used in New York for at least a decade?  I suppose it's possible Madison Avenue was ahead of the curve, but I don't recall ever seeing any movie or TV show before the 1970s that used the phrase.  I'd assume Mad Men does its research, but maybe this one slipped by.


Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter