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HomeOpinionColumnConstantly changing word meanings is very annoying to us oldtimers

Constantly changing word meanings is very annoying to us oldtimers

By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times

Today I want to complain about the growing misuse, in my opinion, of the trendy term “side hustle” by various Internet businesses and media commentators.

Dictionary.com defines it today merely as a second job to supplement your income, what used to be called “moonlighting” way back when.

            First, some history of the word “hustle”. It is used heavily in sports to describe great athleticism, like Pete Rose was nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” because of his aggressive style of play as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in major league baseball.

            That could be my cue to deliver a rant about the great injustice of Pete being denied admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, I will save that tirade for another time. However, I do hope it happens before ole No. 14 goes to that big ballpark in the sky.

            If you or someone you know has ever been “hustled” in a poker game or a pool hall or a car deal or in a flea market trade, you know full well that a “hustler” basically is a dishonest person.

            My prime example is the great movie, “The Hustler”, from 1961 in which Paul Newman portrayed Fast Eddie Felson who went up against the greatest pool shooting champion, Minnesota Fats, played by Jackie Gleason.

The big game was set up by Bert Gordon, a shady character performed by George C. Scott. Piper Laurie was Newman’s long-suffering girlfriend. The movie was so well received that all four of the main actors were nominated for Academy Awards.

It was 25 years later, when a sequel to “The Hustler” was released in movie houses under the title of “The Color of Money”. Tom Cruise joined the cast as the young pool hustler who challenged Newman, by then the greatest shooter. That movie earned Newman an Oscar.

No reasonable person could watch those films and not come away convinced that hustling someone is not acceptable conduct. Likewise, today calling something a “side hustle” means to me that you are taking advantage of someone but doing it on a part-time basis.

I prefer the nostalgic spirit expressed by country singer Merle Haggard when he sang that he longed for the time when a “joint” was just a bad place to be and “coke” was still cola.

(Contact Keith at keithkappes@gmail.com)



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