It seems to me that our American version of the English language is very dynamic, that is, it constantly changes as we come up with new words and expressions while others fade away. For some reason an expression that was popular back around The War (that’s World War II for you youngsters) was “hubba hubba”. I have no idea where the saying came from but it was a kinda complimentary, flattering expression used by men to comment on the appearance of an attractive woman. It was a stand alone comment not an adjective, e.g. a man might remark “hubba hubba” as an attractive woman walked by. I don’t know if the ladies were offended or flattered but regardless the saying disappeared.
I recall another word from about that time which also faded away after a brief popularity. The word was “coincidain’t” – pronounced “co-in-sid-ain’t” and was designed as an antonym, that is, a word meaning the opposite to, the word “coincidence”. According to Webster’s dictionary, “coincidence” is defined as, “an accidental and remarkable occurrence of events, ideas, etc at the same time.” Thus, “coincidain’t” described an occurrence that might give the appearance of a coincidence, but in reality was likely not. Kind of a watchword for skeptics who don’t believe in coincidences.
Oh, sure, real coincidences occur. I once was assigned to a small, remote, military outpost in the Aleutians. (You may need to look up where the Aleutians are. These islands kinda dribble off from Alaska towards Asia and are truly remote.) Anyway, much to my surprise I found myself stationed with another guy who was not only from my home town but was in the same high school class with one of my brothers. How about them apples for a coincidence.
Ok, moving on. What has likely been the reason “coincidain’t” has popped up from my memory box are several events making the headlines recently. Most everybody has heard of the events involving the freeing of U S hostages held by Iran and the simultaneous payment to Iran of some $400 million in non U S currency – cash on the barrel-head so to speak. The Administration denies this was a quid-pro- quo arrangement, that is, something for something, in that the two events were arranged by two separate sections of the State Department.
Maybe so, but the hostages reported their departure was delayed for some hours while they waited at the Irani airport. They were reportedly told they had to wait “until the other airplane arrived” – apparently referring to the unmarked airplane carrying pallets of cash. Once the “other airplane” arrived, the hostages were sent on their way. Do you figure this was “an accidental and remarkable occurrence of events at the same time” – a coincidence – or maybe a coincidain’t?
Another curious happenstance also involved an airport. This time it was a meeting involving the Attorney General of the United States and a well-known political figure whose famous wife was under investigation by the FBI – which falls under the Attorney General. The location of this meeting was a private airplane sitting at an airport in the western part of this country. Both parties state this was a chance occurrence and the only topics of conversation were grandchildren and similar personal subjects. Yep, they both accidentally happened to be at this particular place at this particular time and just happened to get together on a private airplane for a personal chat. Coincidence or coincidain’t?
Any more candidates for “coincidain’t” status? Well, news reports indicate the FBI is quietly looking into a former secretary of state’s relationship with foreign businessmen and governments who donated millions of dollars to a family foundation and may have received favors from the secretary of state in return. One mechanism for these funds transfers was a number of speeches by the secretary’s spouse – speeches that netted hundreds of thousands of dollars a whack for the foundation and that were delivered to entities who just happened to be concerned with activities or positions of the U S government. Just coincidence – or coincidain’t?
I’m glad the term “hubba hubba” has quietly slipped into the oblivion it so richly deserves but I’m wondering if perhaps “coincidain’t” or some version thereof might be due for a revival. We keep finding more and more situations where the expression fits. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]