This is Really a Very Groovy Blog Post

As many of you know, not only am I a writer and blogger, but I am a student of psychology and human behavior still to this day. I watch, I observe, and I look for patterns of behavior meaning I that I dabble into culture(s) a bit, making me somewhat of a student of anthropology as well. There are distinct cultures or societies of people (sub-cultures) in our great country, and it is somewhat surprising how many of these subgroups there are if you really examine behaviors. As an example, today you will learn about two distinct cultural subgroups of people (with a blurry-lined third) of a trait you would not even in your wildest dreams think of as a cultural subgroup.

First, some of my best blogs come from dinner conversations, or lunch conversations with friends and loved ones. Remember when I wrote that great blog on kissing? That came from a lunch with a friend and some reminiscing (reminisson) on my past boyfriends. (MUST READ, Linked here) Still another, dividing people into two subgroups of culture about the kind of kissing friends do when they see each other (linked here but the three types are air or side of cheek kisses, and lip kisses) I came upon at a dinner out with friends. So at any rate, at any time while dining out with me, people should keep in mind the topic of discussion may be fodder for my writing.

This one came from a lunch discussion of the word groovy. It is no longer in vogue as it was in the sixties, yet it is still used by some, and you can definitely see it written in journalism here and there. Mike Myers singlehandedly tried to bring it back into mainstream with his Austin Powers movies, but that is another story for another day.

I am here to tell you that there is a major cultural divide, with two sub-cultures of our society that you probably never would even consider – I call them the Groovies, and the Non-Groovies; and there is still another sub-group with a more blurred line. Let me explain: the two subgroups of culture involving the use of the word groovy are those who emphatically (with an exclamation mark) say they have never used the word. The other subgroup is an emphatic yes, a group that is comfortable using the word back in the day and even now.

Back to its origins in the 60’s, groovy was the hippie term for “awesome” or really great. It was quickly adopted by many young people, hippie or not. However certain people, for a myriad of reasons, and here I must stereotype a bit: perhaps preppies, traditional old school types, academic or intellectual types, or conservatives or squares, or those insecure or nerdy, (that is my category) would not have used it at all. People who generally avoid lingo, and especially hip lingo of any kind in their vocabulary would also not have used it. That left the term to people far more comfortable in using slang lingo, or for those who were immersed in the hippie culture. Yes, we all grew up in the sixties, but here is where nature vs. nurture comes in. We were all exposed to the same societal changes, yet not all of us could adapt to using hip lingo.

After our lunch discussion, where about half were comfy using the term and half only used it in jest or sarcastically or never at all, I put out a Facebook poll. The results – hundreds of responses and mostly all people of my age group or a bit older – is a fairly even division of yeses and nos. When I polled an older aged Facebook group, the poll skewed to 3/4’s No, and 1/4 yes.

My husband, who looked like this back in the day, was ALWAYS totally comfortable using the word. I would not have gone for him with a ten foot pole in those old days, preferring clean-cut more conservative types of boys.

Two of the boys I had wonderful dating relationships with in the early seventies, committed to the term groovy in writing in cards and letters to me, but could never in a million years utter the word out loud. They were both voted least likely to join a commune. I too, am comfortable using the term in writing, yet never use it in the context that it is to be used within as I am just not built that way – read on to the next paragraph to see that blurred line group.

This group is a YES for using the word groovy but ONLY in song or in sarcasm. This group only uses the word while singing, or sarcastically, or when using Austin Powers references. This third group makes it clear in their responses to my poll that they do not use the word in the correct context. So this group, while using the word, uses it without the true spirit and full freedom of the word. as it was meant to be used. Aside from my using the word in writing, I am also one of those who have only used the word in a sardonic and sarcastic way, and I have sung it a lot. But have I ever used the word out loud in all seriousness to describe an awesome thing? Never. Read on to find out why, as it may surprise you. I should note here that I love two songs that use the word, “Feeling Groovy,” and “A Groovy Kind of Love,” and have sung that word so many times between those two songs alone, the word should definitely be part of my vocabulary. Again, it is not in my nature to do so. But to find out how I came upon the sarcastic usage of the word, read on.

…..And now, an interlude where I travel back in time to one of my Savant-type crystal clear mind-movie memories. I am going back to a 1969 memory at my overnight camp when I was a dorky, nerdy, 14 year old pre-pubescent girl who looked like a tanned Italian boy. (This is not a joke and I have photographic evidence that I may someday share in my memoirs.) As I do this time travel, I can see and feel the rough wood floors of our bunk and the screen door, and hear the transistor radios playing the top 40 hits of the day such as the Archie’s “Sugar, Sugar.” I can see the clothes we were wearing, and in general place myself back there in that time. It is that real of a memory for me. Bunk G with Dina (Dena?) Gail, Andy, Bonnie, me and others.

In 1969 at Camp Council, (let’s cheer for CC!) reading Archie comics was the big activity during “free time.” (Aside from writing letters home and sharing contents of care packages.) We swapped issues among ourselves. It seems that our clean-cut Riverdale boy Archie used the word groovy an awful lot. One particular friend of mine, Andy, who was a total cut-up like me, and who liked to make fun of anything she could and was naturally funny to boot; took major issue with Archie using the word groovy. She thought that the word coming out of him sounded like it was coming out of our parents mouths, and that would truly be inappropriate in the late sixties. I mean Archie still wore short hair and was quite a nerd. In some issues, the writers had misspelled groovy to “groovie” and in a typo in one it was “groovi.” We laughed so hard at this typo and kept repeating Groove-eye, Groove-eye. (With the ‘i’ ending, you get a long i sound as in Pi, or Octopi, or alumni. Even with the ie ending, loads of words. like the other PIE, and the word lie, have that long i sound so therefore, Groove-eye.) It is the absolute truth that we spent time discussing this important topic at free time. You have to be a long-ago memory savant like myself to even remember all of this, but I do, and I must note that it was PRE-Diaries. So nothing in writing exists to confirm this memory. You will just have to trust me on it. And thank you Camp Council for some of the most fun days of my young life up to that point.

Getting back to the word groovy and this particular summer and Andy: (who went to different schools at another end of the city and we went our separate ways after camp ended, a real shame, because she was a funny, fun girl and I can still picture her clearly in my mind’s eye.) She made SUCH an issue over Archie and friends using groovy, that she then adopted it as her favorite term and referred to anything and everything as “groove-eye.” She tried to convince our bunk mates to say the word that way, and she made us all laugh on many occasions at a sarcastic usage. For example. one time the meal came out and we think it was supposed to be Shepherd’s pie but it came out a disgusting concoction of mush. Andy, of course held up the very unattractive plate of mush, and asked in a loud voice, “Well, isn’t this dinner just GROOVE-EYE?” Then she tossed the plate and it went skidding down our table. (We were always allowed to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in lieu of some of the awful food, but we were NOT allowed to toss plates.) Andy was the one who introduced me to the sarcastic o sardonic use of the term, and I have adopted that usage ever since. Being the pre-pubescent dorky type I was, I could have never had the confidence to use a hip lingo term for real.

Okay, I know it was a LOT funnier to us back then, given our immaturity and propensity to giggle at practically nothing, but still, Andy had a way of misusing the word along with the mispronunciation, which really cracked us up all encampment long. Due to this long ago but very VIVID memory, even today, I can’t hear the word or read the word groovy without thinking of groove-eye and the inappropriate or sarcastic use of the word.
(And Andy, where ever you are, please contact me if you remember this. You went on to Olney HS. Important note here: the problem with catching up with people from long ago that get in touch with me is that they remember virtually NOTHING in the way of stories and anecdotes, and I remember every single story. It is SUCH a burden, really, to have this savant memory. Not only that, I get challenged to PROVE many of my assertions based on this savant ability, and I can usually back it up via letter or diary. Then those same people regret that they challenged my savant memory.)

SIDE NOTE: I must interject here that going to an all girls overnight camp as a pre-teen and young teen, was much like the fun and mischief that the girls got into in those movies with Hayley Mills of the sixties, The Trouble with Angels, and the sequel, Where Trouble Goes, Angels Follow. Never content to just go with the programmed activities, someone or another was always stirring up trouble, like a late night pantie raid. Such fun.

Back to the anthropology experiment and my being a keen observer of human nature: I understand people who are not comfortable using the word due to their nature. Perhaps the discomfort comes due to sophistication, or being straight-laced, conservative, or intellectual, or whatever… I am not saying it in an insulting way; as it is a result of their very nature. Not that they look down on those who use it, it just isn’t right to use groovy in their vocabulary for the kind of person they happen to be. Now here is another reason some do not use it. In my case it was from lack of self-esteem! I didn’t feel “cool” or “hip” enough to use a term like that. Rather than feeling above using sixties lingo, I was insecure during that era. I never used a lot of the slang of that time, such as “heavy” or “far-out” or “bread” for money, because I was a goofy little nerd and I knew I could be laughed at for using cool words. If you don’t get in the habit of using words like that due to insecurities, you are likely never going to ever feel comfortable using them going forward. Lest you think this is unfortunately devolving into yet another post about my nerdy, insecure youth, I am just trying to explain my own discomfort in using the word in a legitimate, non-sarcastic way.

Others may feel the same discomfort in using a “hip” word. Archie of Riverdale for sure should have felt this way, but apparently he did not. It did not bother me nearly as much as Andy!

Oh, but the people who use it freely, enthusiastically, and at will, even today! There are so many of you! I admire your nature that allows you to use whatever term you want. You are comfortable in your own skin and you are a free bird. I admire you.

I actually cruise each year on the Star Vista’s Flower Power Cruise, which is a full week at sea with the best music of the sixties. They even have a tagline of “The Grooviest Ship at Sea.” Aboard this cruise, there are non-stop concerts, and joyous times with so many other like-minded “oldies” music lovers like me. There is a LOT of use of the word groovy on this cruise. In fact, check out this photo below of my friend Linda wearing sunglasses that spell out groovy on the cruise this past year. Many on the cruise dress from that way back era, and call themselves Hippies, even at our advanced age. Of course hippies can use the term without any self-consciousness about it. Let’s hear it for the uninhibited free-natured types!

Interestingly, in the poll on our Flower Power cruise chat-room site, it was the same result! Only about half said yes, and the others an emphatic No. So even with my Flower Power cruiser friends, we have this cultural divide. That result really surprised me.

Now I would like to hear from readers – if you do not use the term, WHY?

2 comments

  • Hi Arlene, it’s Reina from FP (as far as I know, I’m the only ‘Reina’). I love this post. I too went to “sleep away” camp but I was a teen – sent there because I wrote a love letter to my boyfriend at the time that included writing how I wanted to lie naked with him, and his mother found the letter, and called my stepmother/parents, and as soon as school was out for the summer (sophomore year), I was sent away to a YMCA (girls camp) for the summer… Turned out down the road was the boys YMCA camp, and after meeting the boys at a “dance”, more specifically meeting the camp counselors (18-19 years old), I figured out how to meet up with the boy counselor in the woods, down the road a piece! lol! To answer your question, I never used Groovy as an adjection in my writing or speech — just seemed like a silly word that never caught on. Peace, love and see you in the ship in 2020!

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