When Did…

I seemed to have missed it again. In my youth, when we would cook dinner on the grill outside and eat at the old wood table off paper plates with the wind blowing napkins and cups, it was called a cook-out. Usually it was on a Sunday in the summer and something was put over charcoal but most of the food came from the kitchen like any other Sunday and it was still a cook-out.  I haven’t heard that phrase for years. Those under 30 years old or so may not even recognize it. We don’t have cook-outs today. Today we grill. One day we are having a cook-out, the next we are grilling. I completely missed that transition.

Well, as I started out, I seemed to have missed it again. When did emoticons become emoji? (I’m still not sure if that is a singular as in one emoji, the plural of more than a singular emojum, or both like fish or deer.) To be perfectly honest, I’m not certain that I can even point to when emoticons became emoticons and not just “those little smiley thingies.” And who came up with them? And how? Let’s face it, it’s not natural to be typing along and all of a sudden decide to turn your “page” 90 degrees and plop in a couple of symbols you can only tell what they are if your head is on sideways. Or if you’re that guy on Law and Order who is always checking out the evidence that nobody else has noticed with his head at that weird angle.

I thought it was perfectly clever when somebody decided that one could approximate a smiley face with a colon and a right parenthesis (parentheses?) (One of them is right, err correct, in that it’s only one of them but I don’t know which. If you do, feel free to fix it if it so needs fixed.) From there it was a quick step to frownie faces, kissing faces, grinning faces, hearts, flowers, and any number of things to personalize an otherwise impersonal e-mail or (shudder) instant message. There are even translators available so you can pick the perfect accompaniment to your formerly plain text.

Today, those cute little combinations of all those symbols we rarely use have morphed into miniature signage that rivals international travel iconography. Personally, I miss the old-fashion smiley face, but what would you expect from an old fogey like me.  If you’ll excuse me, I have a cook-out to plan for dinner. I know I have some hot dogs in the fridge somewhere.  🙂

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?


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