A co-worker returned from the doctor and announced, “I have strep.”
We all knew what she meant, but my question (which I did not ask) was, “Really? Strep ear? Strep foot?”
Sometimes abbreviating a term or a phrase can be funny, and sometimes it can be aggravating. I can’t stand it when someone about to leave says, “Do you want to go with?”
Likewise, it bothers me to hear, “Do me,” instead of “Do me, baby.” Don’t be lazy, folks. The words are there for a reason.
That makes me think of a term used a lot in 1980’s rock music. It was a command, but if someone walked up and said it to me, I would not have known exactly what to do. It was, of course, “Rock me.”
Artists covering the gamut from Paula Abdul to Great White made use of it, either in the verses or in the chorus. In context, it seemed to mean the same as the aforementioned “Do me,” but I suppose it could have meant, “Dance really well with me,” or “Slap me on the ass and call me Judy.” (I cringe every time I joke with that phrase, because I have an aunt with that name.) In many songs, it was just a substitute for its more vulgar cousin that starts with the eff word.
A related phrase, equally as confusing but much more daunting, is “Rock my world.” Who wants that kind of pressure? A whole world? Wow.
That begs mention of the phrase, “I’m going to rock your world.” I’m not sure whether I’ve heard this in song, but depending on context, it can mean that what’s coming is so unexpected it will make your brain hurt or your heart jump.
There are other uses of the word “rock” as a verb.
First is “We will, we will, rock you! (stomp-stomp, clap, stomp-stomp, clap)” in what is arguably the most recognized rock anthem in history (with a nod to “You Shook Me All Night Long”). The chorus does not seem to fit the lyrics at all, but I think songwriter/guitarist Brian May meant that he and his group, Queen, were going to “turn this motha out.”
A Whitesnake lyric that I recall from that period declares, “I’ll rock you in the morning and roll you in the night.” I have no idea what that means, but it follows, “I work harder everyday, to love and treat you right.” So, it seems positive.
Also in the ’80’s was “I wanna rock,” by Twisted Sister, but “rock” does not carry the same meaning. It actually means he wants to play loud music (as far as I can tell).
Going back farther, we see that phrase extended to, “I wanna rock with you,” by the then-black and mostly-male Michael Jackson. Here, he suggests that they will be doing something behind closed doors, not playing rock and roll. I’m fairly certain he meant it for a person above the age of 12, but one never can be sure.
The venerable Paul Simon changes it back to a noun, but causes even more confusion, with, “She loves me like a rock.” The song’s theme makes it sound desirable, but I still would like to know why it’s a good thing. No rock has given me anything besides a pain in my back while sleeping in a tent. That’s not much different from most women I’ve dated, so Garfunkel’s better half gets a point for that one.
Variations incude, “Rock that body”; “Gotta rock it don’t stop it,”; “Keep on rockin'”; “Keep on rockin’ in the free world”; “Rock, rock, ’til you drop”; “Don’t stop rockin'”; “Keep on a-rockin’ me baby”; and “Rock steady, steady rockin’ all night long.”
The word “Rock” takes on another layer of meaning when found in Christian pop music. Phrases such as, “He is my rock,” abound. Wouldn’t this be confusing to someone who had no knowledge of Christian symbolism? There’s a band called Petra, after the Latin word “petrae”, meaning “rock.” That’s an appropriate name for a band that stayed together 33 years, rocking fans about the Rock.
I must finish with a funny use of the word back in 1986. Van Halen was on its first tour with frontman Sammy Hagar, in a small venue in Little Rock, Arkansas. Excited by the crowd’s enthusiasm (or just some girl flashing her knockers), Hagar got his biggest applause of the night when he said, “Little Rock? They should call this Biiiiiiig Rock!”
What started this? Oh yes, my co-worker with strep. Of course, she meant that she had an overabundance of a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes in her throat. Did you know that the same germ can present as scarlet fever or impetigo?
That rocked my world.