It’s My Life, Sort Of: Gosh, the things we said


CAPTION: He said: “Have you lost your marbles?” (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

The look on my friend’s face said it all when he heard my prediction.

“Habs in four,” I’d said, forecasting an ouster of the Tampa Bay ’Bolts in four successive games.

He said: “Have you lost your marbles?”

The voice was incredulous as the look on his visage.

Indeed, I had not.

Un… deux…trois…quatre,” I said, making sure he got the replay in both official languages.

But I chuckled over his choice of words: “Have you lost your marbles?”

I hadn’t heard that in quite some time. It’s an oldie but a goodie, as we used to say about hit tunes from the past.

That was back in the ‘50s, maybe the ‘60s. It was a favourite of DJs on Buffalo radio station WKBW, “1520 on the dial” as the DJs said.

Kids today would wonder: “What’s a dial?”


Then, when I offered a friendly wager to show how serious I was, the anti-Hab gladly accepted.

“A pint of Kilkenny it is. It’s your funeral,” he chortled.

Another popular expression from yesteryear. We used to say it often, as in admonishment to a school chum for cutting Mr. Speranzini’s physics class: “Okay, go ahead, but it’s your funeral” – a warning about the consequences that could be forthcoming. Besides, why would anyone want to cut one of “Spinx’s” physics classes? He was the guy who taught us the easy way of remembering the colours of the spectrum, in order, using an acronym: ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Golly. I still remember.

For a split second, I considered changing the wager’s payoff to another beverage.

“How about a Boston soda instead?” I pondered asking.

Remember the Boston soda: two or three scoops of vanilla ice cream stuffed into a tall milk shake glass, and Hires root beer poured over the top, just enough so that it dribbled over the lip of the glass.

Haven’t had a Boston soda in years. Maybe not since the ‘60s.

Besides, he might have rebuffed my reply with a bruising “Buzz off, buster!”

Whatever happened to buzz off? That’s another buzzword I hadn’t heard in years, if not decades. Buzz off, and take off – that’s another one for you.

Besides, I didn’t want my pal to flip his lid. Remember that one – replaced in current conversation, I’d say, by the term “lose it”, like “I didn’t want my pal to lose it.”

Anyway, on the drive home, I was so excited by the probability of my Habs winning in four straight I “goosed it” at the intersection after the light changed from red to green. Those two words were in just about everybody’s vocabulary, especially after getting the use of your dad’s wheels and you were ready to pull out of the parking lot of the A and W on Lincoln Street West.

And what did your buddies in the back seat yell out: “Goose it!”

So when the Habs win tonight, pardon me if I go ape. Winning the first round of these hockey playoffs will be out of this world after so much disappointment in previous years. And earlier in the season, I thought I was going to dye – my Habs sweater another colour. “Oh ye of little faith!” – now that’s old.

Geez, was I out to lunch or what?”

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

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