Grease is the word, but Z is the way

From Facebook posters, this 1934 painting by Paul Klee (Swiss artist alert!):

(#1) The Path Into the Blue — is, evidently, through a Z

As Barry Gibb wrote for the 1978 movie of Grease, and Frankie Valli performed there:

Grease is the word
It’s got groove it’s got meaning
Grease is the time, is the place is the motion
Grease is the way we are feeling

Well, grease may be the word, but as we can plainly see in #1, Z is the way. Z is the key and the way.

Background: the movie. From Wikipedia:

(#2) The theatrical poster for the movie, with airbrushed principals; but yes, John Travolta was once that young — 24 when the movie was made (he’s 67 now)

Grease is a 1978 American musical romantic comedy film based on the 1971 musical of the same name by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Written by Bronte Woodard (adaptation by Allan Carr) and directed by Randal Kleiser in his theatrical feature film debut, the film depicts the lives of greaser Danny Zuko and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson who develop an attraction for each other. The film stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as Danny and Sandy.

Background: the greasers of the movie. From Wikipedia:

Greasers are a youth subculture that emerged in the 1950s and early 1960s from predominantly working class and lower class teenagers and young adults in the United States. The subculture remained prominent into the mid-1960s and was particularly embraced by certain ethnic groups in urban areas, particularly Italian Americans and Latino Americans.

Background: on the noun greaser. From OED2 (with recent modifications, but not a full rewriting):

… 1. b. One who cleans and lubricates machinery, etc. with grease. spec. an engineer on a ship. [1st relevant cites in 19th century]

1909 J. R. Ware Passing Eng. Victorian Era 147/1 Greaser (Navy, 1860–82), a scornful way of describing naval engineers.

1942 Penguin New Writing 15 9 Seamen don’t salute bloody greasers.

… 2. a. U.S. slang. ‘A native Mexican or native Spanish American: originally applied contemptuously by Americans in the south-western United States to the Mexicans’ ( Cent. Dict.). [1st cite 1848]

… c. A term applied, originally in California, later elsewhere, to long-haired youths who, as members of a group or gang, ride about habitually on motorcycles (in California, in ‘hot rods’). [1st cite:]

1964 San Francisco Examiner 26 Jan. i. 14 The boy distinguished..‘the Surfers’..from less-favored individuals called ‘Greasers’, who indulge in such gauche activities as drag-racing, putting grease on their hair, smoking marijuana and dancing the Twist.

For the record: My hair has never been really long; I never even ridden a motorcycle; I have never drag-raced (multiple rapt viewings of Rebel Without a Cause — I empathized with Sal Mineo’s character Plato — don’t count); when I had a crewcut in the 1950s, I kept the front up with some hair wax, maybe Butch Wax (feel free to guffaw here); I smoked a bit of weed in the late 60s; and I Twisted a lot of nights away in the early 60s. In any case, a greaser I was certainly not.

And the background for greaser: the noun grease.The grease that greasers used was a traditional pomade (made from petroleum jelly, beeswax, and lard), straight petroleum jelly, Brylcreem (with a mineral oil + beeswax base), or (alcohol-based) hair gel, depending on their tastes.

The word grease was originally used for animal fat (like bear fat or lard), then for vegetable oils and petroleum products that have properties and uses similar to animal fat — for example, machine oil and Vaseline. The types of grease by function:

— machine grease

— hair grease

— cooking grease (Crisco was the first shortening to be made entirely of vegetable oil)

— grease/oil as salve (Vaseline in particular)

— sex-lube grease (in sex lubricants / personal lubricants): oil-based (using plant oils as in Ah! Yes, or petroleum-based as in Vaseline); silicone-based (Wet Platinum, Swiss Navy, Gun Oil); or water-based lubes (K-Y Jelly, Astroglide)

Choosing a sex lube depends on what sexual acts it’s going to be used for — masturbation (male or female), fisting, penetration by sex toys (vaginally or anally), intercourse (vaginal or anal) — on whether latex condoms will be used, and of course on personal taste (Astroglide was my lube of choice for anal intercourse).

Final note. I know, I know, I started with a painting by Paul Klee, glanced on John Travolta’s acting career, and ended with Astro-Glide applied anally. Climax or anticlimax?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: