Strange as it may seem people do pick up phrases or sayings from songs and movies that become expressions occasionally used in everyday talk while others are used quite often in their family life.
For instance: The expression “meaner than a junk yard dog” used quite often by men referring to a particularly rough and tough guy is taken from a song about Le Roy Brown, the meanest man in the whole damn town.
Expressions such as “Don’t worry ‘bout me” and “Why do you treat me like you do, do. do” are taken from song titles while others such as “buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks” and “the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be” are from familiar songs of the past.
The expression “no talk, no talk” which is used frequently in our house is taken from a movie “The World of Susie Wong,” which is the story of an American painter in Hong Kong who falls in love with a Chinese prostitute and stars William Holden and Nancy Kwan.
Holden, who was always one of my favorites, in an attempt to sketch and make conversation with this very beautiful Chinese girl at their first meeting is frequently rebuffed by the young lady in her refusal to continue their conversation by using the expression “no talk, no talk.”
Throughout the film the use of this term by each of the stars so impressed my wife and me that it has become a phrase utilized by each of us when we happen upon a subject that the other would rather not pursue. In such cases, rather than say “I do not want to discuss this matter,” we signify our unwillingness by saying “no talk, no talk.”
Being a person who has difficulty falling to sleep after retiring at night I sometimes find my willingness for conversation rejected by a sleepy “no talk, no talk” rather than that rather crude but effective phrase “shut up and go to sleep.”
I get even with her when she asks questions that for years have begun something like this: “Bill, when are you ever going to clean those windows on the front porch?” My answer is either “No talk, no talk” or that old standby “All I do is mow.”
Another very descriptive and self defining by-product of this same movie is the phrase “Zip up Robert” which is used by Susie when she observes Holden preparing to leave for a party with his trousers un-zipped. I, too, have been blessed with a roommate whose powers of observation have often saved me from embarrassment on those occasions when I fail to zip my trousers. (This, according to some, is a normal failure of old men and is attributed in most part to their forgetfulness.)
While Nancy Kwan could say “Robert” the other Chinese girls in the movie were unable to pronounce the “R”, therefore they said “Lobert”. In one scenes one of the girls calls Holden “Lobert” and he corrects her by saying “No, it is Robert”, to which she replies “Yes, I know Lobert.”
Thus it became a habit for this close acquaintance and roommate of mine, who can spot an infraction in dress at 100 paces, to call attention to my forgetfulness by saying “Zip up Lobert.”
But let me say this about that — I am glad that she is so observant — for I am quite forgetful.
Having attained the age of 97 and a loss of the greater part of my hearing I quite often use the Nancy Kwan phrase “no talk, no talk” to let my wife know that she is not talking loud enough for me to understand what she is saying.Therefore you could say that “no talk, no talk” in this instance is just a picturesque way of adding a little color to those old question mark expressions of “huh?” or “What didja say?”
THE MAGIC OF PICTURESQUE WORDING
Since beginning to write my Memoirs and subsequent articles I have become more acquainted with the use of words and the dictionary than heretofore in my lifetime. I have also been warned not to be too ambitious in the use of words that are not within the boundary of my conversational range. However I find that words are the work tools of the writer, the use of which becomes fascinating when attempting to manipulate them and, in so doing, get carried away in the search for different and more interesting word ways of telling a story.
Some time ago I wrote these words: “A new word is something rare. Yet, isn’t it remarkable how people can take the same old words that have been used forever and put them together in such a way as to create something beautiful, full of tender meaning and sometimes everlasting.”
Of late I have been taking notice of the picturesque usage of words by different writers. The dictionary definition of the word “picturesque” in my term of reference is: “suggesting or calling up a mental picture” and one such collection of words has been set to music in one of my very favorite songs.
What more beautiful way to describe a sunset than to say that the “Heavenly shades of night are falling” or “When purple-colored curtains mark the end of day.”
This writer goes on to add more beauty to this setting by saying “Deepening shadows gather splendor as day is done” and then continues by saying “ fingers of night will soon surrender the setting sun.” Does this picturesque phrasing not make you visualize the beauty of a sunset or see it as “Twilight time”or the “after-glow” of day?
Another such collection of words that touches the heart and will live forever is “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln. In this address we find the same old words that have been used for thousands of years arranged in a sequence that pull at the heart strings and allows you to visualize that tall, lanky, bearded man and thrill to his words as he says:
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
I feel convinced that this small gathering of words are put together so impressively that the address and it’s author will endure forever.