A Pet Peeve, Easy Mark & Grifters

Author Jim HInckley signing books after leading a neon nights walking tour in Kingman, Arizona. Photo Anita Shaw

I have been wandering this old world for more than sixty years and can’t count the number of times I have heard about a pet peeve. Now, pet dogs and cats have been a part of my life since childhood. We have some friends that had parrots as pets.

And I know some folks that call horses, donkeys, monkeys, hamsters, and even snakes as pets. Many years ago I befriended an old Cajun that lived in a house on stilts in a Louisiana backwater. He claimed that an alligator was a pet.

But I have yet to see a pet peeve. And that is just one of my pet peeves. Baby doctor, false advertising. Baby oil, see baby doctor. Hot water heater. Huh?

Old phrases and dusty words that were once in common use fascinate me. On the morning walkabouts I take the mind off its leash and let it roam free. Often this leads to some interesting, and even occasionally odd, trains of thought.

This morning I got hung up on a pet peeve. I know what a pet peeve is but where did the term come from? What is its orign?

Well, with that thought rattling around in my head, I began thinking of old and nearly forgotten descriptors. Over the course of the last few years a tsunami of political upheaval, the apocalypse that was 2020, two bouts of COVID, a quest for words to describe my frustration during work on The Beast, have inspired me to embark on a quest.

I am looking for old, forgotten, outdated or regional words or terms. And I am looking for opportunities to inject them into my writing endeavros and speaking engagements.

Busier than a one legged man in a behind kicking contest. Dead drunk. Rube, bumpkin, hayseed, hick, yokel. Older than dirt or older than rope. Nuttier than a truck load of praline. Ain’t got the sense God gave a shiny brown rock.

Sometimes one word or term started a landslide  as they were linked to another phrase or term. Easy mark – “a weak or gullible person; a person who is easy prey. “an easy mark for a grifter.” Grifter – “a person who engages in petty or small-scale swindling. “I saw him as a grifter who preys upon people.”

Kakistocracy isn’t a word that rolls of the tongue easily. And it would be damned hard to work into a sentence. But if the past six or seven years are any indication, it is word that we might want to dust off and get comfortable with working it into a conversation. The definition is government by the worst people. According to Webster’s, Paul Gosnold used it in A Sermon published in 1644″… transforming our old Hierarchy into a new Presbytery, and this againe into a newer Independency; and our well-temperd Monarchy into a mad kinde of Kakistocracy. Good Lord!” Pa always said, it is better to fill the head with useless knowledge than no knowledge at all.

Gallivant – “to travel, roam, or move about for pleasure.” I like this one. I can find a use for this in a story or two. Wanderlust, that is something that I am familiar with. Going walkabout, an Aussie term that describes how I start most mornings.

Well, this gives you a bit of insight into how my mind works. Do you have old words or regional terms that you can share (and that is kid friendly)?