As for the women, you’ll find “over 450 words you can’t live without”–true, because you probably don’t, although you use some more frequently than others–in The CHICKtionary by Anna Lefler. Anna’s explanations of common everyday female-centric words and phrases are insightful, frank, pithy–and frequently hilarious. Reading the dictionary was never so much fun! I laughed out loud often, was impressed by the sharp observations and humor, and frequently wanted to read a definition out loud to someone.
In a way, that’s what I’m about to do here. I thought I’d give y’all a little taste of “chick(tionary) lit” today in the Salon.
Does This Make Me Look Fat? (phrase): A seemingly straightforward yet treacherous question that requires different responses depending on the gender of the person to whom it is addressed. When asked of a male, the response must be a swift and emphatic “No!” Ideally, this will be followed by glowing modifiers such as “You look hot!” and “Are you kidding? You need to gain a few pounds, hon!” When asked of a female, an honest response is acceptable, provided it is couched in camouflage comments that blame the unflattering appearance on the hateful designer, lousy dressing room lighting, and/or cheap construction of the offending garment.
It’s Not You, It’s Me (phrase): This mammoth whopper is the bedrock of the entire breakup system as we know it. As ridiculous a notion as it is that someone would break up with a partner because of dissatisfaction with himself, this chestnut continues to be called up when the person doing the breaking is trying to spare the feelings of the person being broken–a noble intention, but COME ON. (Of course, if your boyfriend recently broke up with you and said “It’s not you, it’s me,” well, that’s an obvious exception to the above and we’re sure he totally meant it. You are much better off without him and we also really like your new perm.) Anyway, just so we’re clear, it is always you. It is never me.
Pop Tart (noun): 1) A term used to describe a female pop star whose outrageous attire, partying, promiscuity, or antics gave eclipsed her singing career. The pop tart label is most often applied to those young women who are in the midst of this transition and about whom everyone is feigning shock that they are not turning out to be the role models everyone thought they were. The fully loaded pop tart comes complete with an assortment of aggressively dysfunctional, publicity-hungry relatives. 2) A delightful toaster pastry.
Classic Pieces (noun): Apparently, we’re all supposed to be wearing these, but what are they? Often modified with the words “timeless” and “elegant,” the concept can also appear in conjunction with the ominous phrase “investment piece.” Is this some kind of code? Should we be downloading an Audrey Hepburn app or something? As usual, the fashion industry gives us no clear guidelines. We know, for instance, that a white T-shirt is considered a classic piece, but does it matter which band’s album cover is on the front?
Girl Scout Cookies (noun): The SCUD missile of dessert items, Girl Scout cookies can blast through the most impenetrable of diets and make rubble of ironclad New Year’s resolutions faster than you can say “I’ll take four boxes of Samoas.” What is it about these things? You know if they were on the supermarket shelves, you’d walk right past without a second look, right? Is it their limited-time availability? The fact that you get hit up for them at the office when you’d rather do anything but finish writing that report? Is it the smiles of little girls whose hopes and dreams have not yet been crushed under the boulder of life’s realities? Most importantly, is anyone selling them here today, right now? We’ve got CASH, people!
Anna and I met when we were among the first contributors to the now-defunct Los Angeles Moms Blog, and I have been a fan of her popular blog, Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder, since the beginning. (In fact, one of her early posts there was part of Bookworms Carnival #14, which I hosted here in August 2008.) We’ve kept in touch with each other, and I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of her first nonfiction book.
The CHICKtionary: From A-line to Z-snap, The Words Every Woman Should Know
by Anna Lefler
Adams Media (2011) Paperback (ISBN 1440529841 / 9781440529849)
Nonfiction/humor, 240 pages
**By the way…my Salon post from a couple of weeks ago, “How to Write a Book Review,” is featured on BlogHer.com this weekend.**