"That's sick!" says the neighbor's boy. It takes me a minute to realize that he is actually voicing his approval of my new camera. He's eleven, in the sixth grade, and the vocabulary of cool has begun to enter his speech. I find it jarring, but I suppose that's part of the point.
This is one of those situations where my fanaticism about language clashes with the role of the "cool auntie," who will listen to him and somehow be listened too, even when I am saying exactly what he doesn't want to hear from his parents (I'm pretty sure that his parents will play that same role for my boys one day, and that's okay with me). Sometimes I have to draw the line. I don't, for instance, allow him to call me "dude," and I despair that my language-challenged five year-old has picked up the word "idiot" from him and will. not. let. go.
That adolescent twist of language is really nothing new, I have been through "choice" and "rad" and "gnarly" and the completely meaningless "totally tubular," all with the additional ick factor of what I can only describe as a Connecticut Valley Girl accent; that annoying mix of privilege and pretentious disdain for others. But the twisting of "sick" to mean exactly the opposite of what you would think it means just seems rude to my ears.
Or maybe I'm just getting old. After all, I grew up in the age of "awesome," which slipped into my vocabulary (along with "like" and "you know") without much effort on my part. I'm sure this annoyed my elders. I however, never even thought about it, until one night I found myself at a Harvard party with a bunch of British rugby players who were pondering the ubiquity of "awesome" and what it might possibly mean in the States. I'll never forget the laughter when one of the Brits came up with his best guess: "large."
And speaking of sick (its original meaning, or closer to it anyway), a couple of things have come across my
desk laptop this morning that must be shared.
The first is straight out of the Sopranos, or American Psycho, and I have an eerie feeling it will never be resolved. If you have not read that book, by the way, don't. It is truly puke inducing, and I am not exactly the squeamish type.
The second, and perhaps more directly terrifying might be said to be a result of the Bush administration's cuts to the FDA and its propensity to loosen controls on agribusiness. This is about the food going into our kids and the trust we have placed in the school lunch system. Oh, how dare they?
More of my railings against the Bush administration and other politicians at The Soccer Mom Vote today.