I believe all parents have the right to embarrass their children. It’s going to happen anyway, so why not plan for it? To this end, I’ve recently begun peppering my language with a few four-letter words.
I can’t help it: I love the word “dude.” I giggle whenever someone uses it. Put it at the beginning or the end of any sentence, and it’s funny. If you can imitate Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure while you say it, so much the better.
Unfortunately, my children forbade me to use the word “dude” in any of my sentences. Ditto for the word “sick” –meaning good, not ill—not in my home or with friends or on Facebook. There are certain words in the English language that are off-limits to anyone over age 20…especially if that person is Mom, who immediately renders them uncool and unusable.
Of course, this isn’t the first time one generation has claimed exclusive rights over words and phrases.
I tried to explain the etymology of the word “dude.” The surfer culture of the early sixties popularized its present usage, when I was just a twinkle in my mother’s eye. Before that, it referred to city slickers who vacationed on cattle ranches…How then could my twenty-first century teenagers claim a monopoly? They just rolled their eyes.
As a teen in the eighties, if we were disgusted, we’d say things like, “Gross me Green—Call me Kermit!” (A reference to Sesame Street in its heyday.) Other similar phrases were “Grodie” and “Gross Me Out The Door.”
“Decent!” or the aforementioned “Excellent!” were happy exclamations of wonderfulness, but “Wicked,” ‘Totally Awesome” and “Outrageous” were also acceptable alternatives.
The Head Bangers were heavy metal fans, the Space Cadets were the odd people with their heads in the clouds, a Hoser was a clumsy or stupid person who drinks lots of beer (coined by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas in SCTV’s famous comedy sketch, The Great White North). A nice outfit earned the term Boss, Bombdigity, Happenin’ or Bodacious, as in, “That outfit is the bombdigity!”
I don’t remember being embarrassed by my parents’ language, perhaps because they didn’t try so hard to interact with me. They were too busy working and paying the bills. Our lives didn’t intersect much, and I didn’t question the fact that they probably didn’t understand me. So, as a modern parent, am I trying too hard?
Heck, no. I just like the word dude.
Wait your turn, kiddies. Right now, you’re basking in the glory of youth and coolness, but all will be a distant memory when you have children of your own. Until then: “Excellent! Party on, dudes!”