2012, the year of the Mayan non-pocalypse, has passed away, joined the heavenly choir, bit the big one, bought the farm, joined the heavenly choir, taken a dirt nap, joined the majority, and croaked.
Let's bury it with terms of an appropriate nature: euphemisms for death. The following death-related terms aren't as common as kick the bucket, but they are useful ways to dodge the most depressing, dismal, and therefore dodge-worthy topic of all.
meeting Mr. Mayhem
In 2012, one of my favorite TV shows was Sons of Anarchy, the violent saga of a gun-running motorcycle club that doubles as a Hamlet-inspired family drama. Club members frequently betray and murder each other, and sometimes those dirty deeds are discovered, brought to the club's table, and debated parliamentary-style. A member can be voted out, and an ex-member can be murdered if there's a unanimous vote. That bloody decision is discussed with a memorable phrase: "All in favor of Frankie Diamonds meeting Mr. Mayhem?" In other words: "All in favor of killing Frankie Diamonds?" Presumably, this euphemism is a psychological buffer, as well as a precaution against listening devices or rats. I love this alliterative term and think it should be adopted by many organizations, from the Elks Club to your local knitting circle.
ending the subject's reanimated state
I've also been absorbed in The Walking Dead. This zombie show — which mows down showrunners as callously as zombies — recently introduced a post-apocalypse community called Woodbury, led by a whacko who calls himself the Governor. (If whacko sounds like a harsh term, bear in mind the Governor keeps severed heads in fish tanks.) Anyhoo, the Governor also keeps his zombified daughter alive, presumably hoping to cure her at some point. To that end, he had a guy named Milton doing experiments with people who were near-death to see if they retained any identity or memories once they turned zombie. In a memorable episode, Milton had sharpshooter Andrea on hand, waiting for some poor guy's death and zombification. Milton — a dweebish schlub — quaveringly told Andrea that once the experiment was over, "I need you to end the subject's reanimated state." So this is another term for kill, or perhaps slay is a better translation. I wonder if Buffy the Reanimated State Ender would have been as successful.
I saw movies this year too, and while I didn't dig Looper quite as much as Argo and Skyfall, its title did provide a euphemistic term. The word looper has had a few uses over the years, including an aeronautical one that's explained in an Oxford English Dictionary definition so circular it almost demonstrates the term: "One who loops the loop, or who has done so; a machine specially adapted for looping the loop." Green's Dictionary of Slang has examples of looper meaning a bullet, a punch, and (not surprisingly) a crazy person. In Looper, the term has a darker meaning: assassin. Specifically, it's a kind of assassin who kills folks sent backwards in time by time-traveling mafia guys. Eventually, one of the looper's victims is his own future self, thus completing the loop and inspiring the name. I had never considered the possibility of murdering my future self until this movie, so I guess I should thank director/writer Rian Johnson for inspiring my new retirement plan.
During the times I've visited Dallas, I've gained a little insight into this term. If you've never been, downtown Dallas feels like more of a memorial than a downtown area, with landmarks and memorials of the JFK assassination everywhere. That's not my cup of tea, but I can somewhat fathom the weird, train wreck-ish appeal of dark tourism, which Paul McFedries defines on Word Spy as "Tourism that involves travelling to places associated with death, destruction, or a horrific event." In this case, dark is a euphemism for death-obsessed and kinda creepy.
The military deals in death and therefore has many occasions to euphemize it, including this term, which describes one element of the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan. As Tom Engelhardt wrote in Mother Jones: "In 2012 — and twice last week — Afghan soldiers, policemen, or security guards, largely in units being trained or mentored by the US or its NATO allies, have turned their guns on those mentors, the people who are funding, supporting, and teaching them, and pulled the trigger." This situation is known as green-on-blue violence, which has a nicer ring than "The dudes we're training are attacking us."
Speaking of green, did you give or get the green weenie in 2012?
To get the green weenie is never a good thing, and it hasn't been since it was first recorded in 1944 as military slang for "anything bad." The OED found it used in 1977 to suggest a romantic ending: "Jack. Well, she gave him the green wienie. Bob. The what? Jack.The green wienie. She broke up with him."
It also means death. A 1993 example states a sad truth: "I figure we're all on this earth to get the green wienie." The following 2004 use obviously came before the real death of Osama bin Laden: "If bin Laden has bitten the green weenie, it is more likely because of kidney failure than from thermobaric bombs at Tora Bora." You have to like a euphemism for death that would sound at home in a Dr. Seuss book, naughty limerick, or description of rancid hot dogs.
When I'm on my deathbed, I hope I remember this term. I'd be proud if my last words were, "Don't be sad. It's just my turn to get the green weenie."
(For more on the lexicon of dying, see Ben Zimmer's 2011 Word Routes column.)