The Sophie Tucker Rule

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As our 60-year secondary-school reunion draws near, my classmate Scott and I found ourselves talking about the past and the future. About the past, we shared memories from the period when Americans were fighting a war in Southeast Asia and we were young enough to wonder how anyone had a life after 50 - the age our fathers were then. We laughed about our recollections of military service during that time – Scott’s in the Army, mine in the Navy – and all the snafus we endured. “I wonder,” Scott asked, “if we are the last generation to use ‘situation normal all fouled up’ to describe how Congress and the Pentagon’s war plans translate into particular orders for soldiers and sailors.” My answer was “yes, but we can be confident that ‘the kids’ have come up with new and better slang to describe what never changes in the military and in war. We are too old and out of touch to know what they are and fortunate enough not to have to worry about our children knowing that particular vocabulary.”