The weird thing is I have no idea how I understood the Laverne and Shirley theme song, but I did. I am referring, of course, to the part where Laverne and Shirley are chanting, playing hopscoth maybe, and they sing something about “schlemiel, schlimazel, hosenpepper incorporated” (do-dee-da-doot-doo! “We’re gonna do it!”). Maybe Mom told me sometime. Maybe I just understood phoenetically. What’s certain is that although I got the words right, I did not know what they meant. Now, thanks to A Word A Day, I know.

schlimazel or shlimazel (SHLI-mah-zuhl) noun

Someone prone to having extremely bad luck.

[From Yiddish, from shlim (bad, wrong) + mazl (luck). A related term is Hebrew mazel tov (congratulations or best wishes).]

A schlimazel can be concisely described as a born loser. No discussion of schlimazel could be complete without mentioning his counterpart: schlemiel, a habitual bungler. They go together:

A schlemiel is one who always spills his soup, schlimazel is the one on whom it always lands.

You know what? Listening to the song now, I understand that Laverne and Shirley are going to do it “our way,” not “always” as I had previously thought. I think I like this song better than Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” though they both have the same message. And how’s about this for a linguistic conundrum: “There is nothing we won’t try. / Never heard the word impossible.” Wait! You just did! Maybe the song is sung by deaf women?

PatrickWords11/06/04 0 comments

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