So I asked an acquaintance “Does anyone still refer to making out as ;petting’?”
He stared at me. “I’m not sure how many still call it ‘making out’.”
It’s just a matter of the passage of time. Some slang expressions are here and gone, while others disappear for a while and then return. It isn’t even necessarily just slang. Some words mean something to one generation and something different to the rest. There was a trivia question once that claimed to detect your age in Match Game fashion by asking you to complete the phrase “Peaches and —–” When I read the question, you were oldest if you said “Daddy”, next oldest if you said “Cream”, and young and happening if you said “Herb”. The answers have to graded differently now, though, as only a young historical researcher would know about the sex scandal of Peaches and Daddy Browning, while Peaches and Cream are eternal. (Of course, you remember who peaches and herb were. No? See me after class.)
In these days of limited cigarette advertisement, the names of the different brands are no longer known to the general public. You can get the general idea of this joke without knowing it refers to rival brands of pre-vaping sticks, but it was obvious at once when the card was new. Similarly, there may be pockets of slang in this country where a fight is still referred to as a “scrap”. But it was better known during World War II, when the scrap drive made you part of the fight. (I’m afraid I don’t know if the spelling “Buddie” was another bygone gag, or just a mental slip on the part of the cartoonist.)
At about the same time, “jack” was a well-traveled slang expression for money. And any car was bound to require both meanings at some time or another.
People who were extra cautious with their jack were referred to as “close”, which led to a number of jokes about close friends and such.
There have been, through the years, many, many words used to describe a human being who is not an outright bad person, but otherwise devoid of any positive attributes. Some called this slow-witted, unlucky, unattractive person a “dub”, which word has taken on any number of other meanings over the years. Another word used was “mutt”, which was, in fact, the origin of the name of one of the comic strip duo of Mutt and Jeff. Augustus Mutt was indeed the original solo star of the strip, called simply “A. Mutt”, as seen here.
At around the same time A. Mutt was getting his start in the newspapers, movie houses had to get up a whole program of movies, because feature-length films were an expensive gamble, and some people liked the style of a movie house with ten or eleven different short features shown in rotation throughout the day. As longer films were made, theaters began to advertise how long each movie was by explaining that it was a one-reel picture, or a two-reeler. (Each reel ran about fifteen minutes.) So this inebriated gentleman, reeling home from the party, is a bit confused by the claim of the theater.
These are just some of the vocabulary questions I’ve run into while studying the comic postcards of bygone days. It may be, of course, that you knew all these things already, and these explanations simply made you impatient. Well, as they used to say