I just got off the phone with the ophthalmologist’s office. The complicated objective was to make not one but two appointments, on the same day. According to my iPhone’s recent calls record, the call lasted 10 minutes. In that time period, the person I talked to said “OK” 25 times. (That’s an estimate, a conservative one.)
It’s no biggie. It was actually kind of funny. Especially the OK followed by a long guttural hyphen, a throat clearing dot dot dot. But, OK, it got kind of annoying. I was almost, but not quite, like, OK OK OK, enough of that.
“Date of birth?”
“Oct 29, 1952.
“OK, hang on.” The line goes dead. I wait a while. That’s okay. Or should I say OK? Then at long last, she’s back. “OK, did you say April?”
“OK. Please hold.”
Details, doctors, calendars, databases. Hold.
“Yes, I’m still here.”
“OK, let’s see, April. OK.”
For some reason I thought OK entered American English through the US space program. You know, everything A-OK. (Thumb and forefinger on one hand forming a circle, the other three fingers standing at slightly bent attention.) It turns out, no. The first OK, the inaugural OK, dates back to March 23, 1839, when the Boston Morning Post used this efficient bit of shorthand in an article, placing it next to the term “oll korrect,” which was a joke. Evidently, says Christopher Klein in History Stories, published by the History channel, “educated elites deliberately misspelled words and abbreviated them for slang. For example, ‘KG’ stood for ‘know go,’ the incorrect spelling of ‘no go.’” So: OK, for “oll correct.” Three days later, OK made another appearance in the Boston Morning Post. Over time it became OK to write and say OK, though something tells me spoken OK’s lagged behind written OK’s.
“OK, for you we have April 18 at 9:30 a.m. Would that be OK?”
OK, we have liftoff.
That’s a roger.
“OK. Your wife’s appointment. OK?”
OK. All rightie.
Well then, your wife’s appointment.
Well now, your wife’s appointment
So let’s see, your wife’s appointment.
Where were we, your wife’s appointment.”
These would be OK alternatives to OK. But, I don’t care. I got appointments, two of them, both OK. I say OK.
OK is like the all too ubiquitous thumbs-up gesture in wide circulation now. Somehow, and, again, I would blame the space program, the A-OK gesture evolved, became more confident. The index finger detached from the A-OK thumb, all four fingers curled into a fist, and the thumb, with a slight rotation of the wrist, became emphatically, shamelessly erect. (Is thumbs up! I wonder, a gesture men are more inclined to use, to make a connection, to show solidarity, and, with a confident nod of the head, express male power?)
Allan Metcalf, author of OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, says, “It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that the modern world runs on OK.”
A universal. As it wasn’t in beginning, is now and ever shall be. God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, and it was OK.
OK with Him, OK with me.