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January 10, 2007 | 1 Comment

Dear Garrison,
You occasionally mention geezers on your show. Is it age or a state of mind that makes one a geezer or geezerette? I think we are only as old as we feel, some days 37, and some days 67, but geezerhood sounds so very old. I'm not sure that I ever want to admit to that. Be there, yes, act old, never.

Thank you for many years of laughter. Our eldest daughter introduced us to your show in 1981 when she came home from Iowa State for Thanksgiving. "You'll love this! Everyone at school listens to it every Saturday night!!" Remembering my own college years, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We have been captivated ever since.

Thank you,
Nancy S.

I like the word "geezer," a descriptive sound, almost onomatopoeia, and also "coot," "codger," "biddy," "battleaxe," and most of the other words for old farts. It's a time of life that offers a lot, some latitude in behavior and speech, a loss of arrogance, a sort of dark humor, and yet, inside, there is still a young person pushing forward. One runs the risk of looking ridiculous, though, not to acknowledge one's age. The facelifts, the weird comb-overs, the embarrassing use of kid slang by seniors, etc. My use of the word "geezer" is like gay people referring to themselves as "queer" ---- take the insult and make it your own, that's how to deflect prejudice. On the other hand, young listeners write in and tell me, "Don't talk about being old. It isn't that interesting." I'm sure they're right. Age doesn't mean all that much. When I go to dinner with the nieces and I start a sentence, "The difference between your generation and mine is..." their eyes glaze over. They're not a generation and neither am I, we're just people who happen to be on the same bus.


1 Comment


Dear Mr Keillor,

As a layman speaking to an English Major, I trust that you will treat my contribution with kind forebearance as befits the comments of an enthusiastic amateur.

Ref: geezers. In London (UK) - and in particular when speakinfg to Cockneys, it's great to be called a "diamond geezer" (qv Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie, the Kray Brothers etc). It is a huge compliment; it means you are a good honest bloke, love your Mum, salt of the earth etc.

Most people think that this is based on the gem. However, an alternative etymology might be based on the Old Norsk / Anglo Saxon root "deman" = to judge: you are "judged" to be a geezer by your community.

If this were true, you might expect to see a similar expression in dispersed Norwegian communities around the world. I wonder if you have seen any evidence of this?

Best regards,

Peter Windebank

PS - "Bruno the Fishing Dog" made me laugh so much I thought I was going to split my sides ... thanks!

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