Stories

1 generational thing: Are we speaking the same language?

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Being a millennial writer with a boomer editor has hiccups. Some days, I wonder if my editor, Steve, and I are speaking the same language.

Like the time he posed this question about a story pitch: "Is this about the man in the grey flannel suit?"

Huh?

  • Steve explained that the idiom went back to a hit novel and film and cultural touchstone in the 1950s. It refers to a corporate cog in the machine — "just another man in a gray flannel suit."

This linguistic gap can make me nervous. Once, Steve inserted the phrase "inside dope" into one of my articles.

  • "My story has nothing to do with secret weed, if that's what you mean," I wrote Steve, with some sarcasm. But what the heck was the dope reference?
  • Slang for insider info, I learned.

More recently, Steve asked if a company I cover had established a "beachhead."

  • This one, I Googled. I now have a starting list for boomer military references.