I really don’t have time to write a column this week, and I’ll tell you why.
I desperately need to get my slang-meter fixed. It’s not just out of calibration – I’m afraid it has quit working altogether.
How do I know this? The other day I was in the checkout line at the local HEB and after the teen-aged cashier rang up my total, she told me I had saved $5.76 by shopping there, to which I replied “neat-o!”
Neat-o. Not “sweet,” not “nice,” not even “neat.” I said “neat-o.” The poor girl stared at me as if I had just landed from the Andromeda galaxy.
And who could blame her? The last documented use of “neat-o” was when Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles.
Needless to say, I made a hasty exit before I blurted out some other abomination. I could feel a “snazzy,” a “hep-cat,” a “groovy” and a “daddy-o” backed up inside my throat, just itching to get out and humiliate me.
That’s what happens when your slang-o-meter goes out of whack. All manner of antiquated expressions are liable to creep out, dating the speaker as surely as growth rings date a tree trunk.
Keeping up with modern slang is tough, especially when you don’t know where the boundaries are – if indeed there are boundaries.
I can recall with exactitude the day about 15 years ago when the adjective “sucky” entered the language of polite society. As always, it was broached in a TV ad.
It was uttered during a comparison of psychic hotlines, and a young Asian girl declared the psychic under discussion was better than “one of the sucky ones.”
Until that moment, I felt “suck” and “sucky” were certainly profane – even borderline wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap obscene – yet here was a clean-cut Asian girl using it as casually as calling her mom.
Today, I would not be surprised in the least to hear “sucky” sprinkled into the State of the Union address.
As I have mentioned before, I fear society is only one or two presidential tweets away from turning the F-bomb loose upon the land. In point of fact, the F-bomb’s first cousin “AF” is already used so often it no longer raises an eyebrow.
(If you require a translation of AF, you’re on the wrong page of this newspaper. Go back to the comics.)
I expect when my slang-o-meter gets back from the shop, it will have been retrofitted with all the latest vocabulary, including:
BAE - No, it’s not a contraction of babe, as I originally thought. It’s the initials of “beyond anyone else.”
Extra - It still means over the top, but it has picked up a negative flavor, as in excessive or trying too hard.
GOAT - Initials again, this time meaning Greatest Of All Time. Sorta like MOAB, Mother Of All Bombs.
High key - The opposite of down low.
Hundo P - Means certainly or of course; supplants “fer sure.”
JOMO - The flip side of FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. Now it’s the Joy Of Missing Out.
LB - A Facebook thing, it means “You liked my comment, and I’m liking yours back.”
Snatched - Means the very best, kinda fleek times 10.
Turnt - Means excited or hysterical. Also means drunk.
Woke - Knowledgeable or aware, in a Politically Correct sense.
Yass - Means yes, but with sugar on top. The more esses the better.
And so it goes, with the F word just waiting in the wings.
Once that word is cleansed and denatured by frequency of use and is accepted by society, what’s left? I weep for generations of profane Americans as yet unborn who will have lost the power to offend their elders.
That’s not what really worries me, though. I am concerned that the demand for new and exciting slang is already far outstripping the supply. I can’t remember the last time I heard a new word or expression that wasn’t a shorthand version of existing jargon.
Maybe I’m unduly pessimistic. Maybe there’s a renaissance of bright, witty slang just around the corner, just waiting to burst forth in a new flowering of creativity.
Maybe chickens have lips.
INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS WEEK: December 9 - Day After Take It In The Ear Day; 14th - International Monkey Day. Enjoy.