Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, May 18, 2012

Shut Up!

We weren't allowed to say "Shut up!" in my parents' home.  "Please be quiet" was the preferred locution.  My parents were concerned about how we said things--how we presented ourselves--so they were careful to prepare scripts for us in common social situations.

When I answered the phone, I had to say, "Dyers' residence.  Danny speaking."  Of course this was long before Caller  ID, so when the caller happened to be one of my friends, I invariably took some crap--both on the phone and later.  The crap generally involved some questions about my virility, though, of course, none of us knew the word at the time.  Just the concept.

Our parents also taught us to address all adults--all--as "Mr." or "Mrs." or "Miss."  (Ms. lay far in the future.)  At Hiram College nowadays the students call the professors by their first names.  Unthinkable when I was a student there.  Revolutionary.  Probably Communist.  I still have deep problems calling my former professors by their first names.  I hardly ever do it, and when I do, I feel as if I've just violated a Commandment.  Oh, and throughout my college years, all our professors called us "Mr." and "Miss."  Except my dad.  Why I took his summer school course, he called everyone else in the class "Mr." or "Miss" Whatever.  But when he called on me, he would just look my way, point, and say "Yes?"  Or "Hmmm?"  There was just no way my dad was going to call me "Mr. Dyer"!

I mention all this politeness and "shut-up" stuff because of the fairly recent use of the term.  As below:

PERSON 1: I got this iPad for $300 off the list price.
PERSON 2: Shut up!

I first noticed this while eavesdropping at the Hudson Starbucks.  Some local high school kids were shut-upping one another at a table nearby.  And it took me a while--Dense Old Man that I am--to realize I was hearing a new way of saying You're kidding!  Or No way!

Both of those responses, by the way, are also vaguely offensive, aren't they.

PERSON 1: I finished the homework early last night.
PERSON 2: No way!

Isn't Person 2 accusing Person 1 of lying?  (No way!)

Anyway, the first time a student told me to shut up in class, I was a little alarmed.  I felt my BP spike, my brain stem light up, my simian self consider some chest-thumping.  Then I remembered the high school kids in Starbucks.  And all the needles on all my emotional gauges dropped back out of the red zone into the green.

But I'm still not used to it.

Yesterday, at the Cleveland Clinic in Twinsburg I had to jump through a number of hoops with my insurance to see if they would pay for a shingles vaccine that my physician had recommended.  It took about an hour.  (But we don't need health-care reform!)

Anyway, I told the insurance adviser at the Clinic that my carrier was going to pay the entire amount for the shot.

"Shut up!" she said.

I almost punched her in her snotty fat fac--  Oops.  Just the changing times.  Which beget changing words.


  1. Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls. Normally I would not even dream of recommending the movie to the wiser crowd, but I feel like you might get a kick out of it (it was basically our generational icon movie). Anyways, there is a scene that this post reminded me of which includes dialogue that goes like this:

    Regina: Why don't I know you?
    Cady: I'm new. I just moved here from Africa.
    Regina: What?
    Cady: I used to be home-schooled.
    Regina: Wait... what?
    Cady: My mom taught me at home...
    Regina: No, I know what home-school is, I'm not retarded! So you've actually never been to a real school before? Shut up! Shut up!
    Cady: I didn't say anything.

  2. Yes, we were allowed to say fermez la bouche. But not shut up. And I, as Jim will tell you, swear like a farmer from years of hanging out at the barn. But I never say SHUT UP. it's the offing truth.