This, my friends, is a 100 percent, real fictional statement a teenager made while standing in line at the grocery store the other day:
“My bruh and I were hanging with our squad at a totally lit party that was the GOAT. The fam and I were enjoying some bop songs and telling jokes that were so Gucci. My bae was looking fierce and making all the girls jelly, but then he said something so savage to them that I was crying!”
I know what you’re thinking: “Scott, why are you hanging in the checkout line with a bunch of teenagers?”
You’re right. That’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. But the answer is simple: I was doing research for this column about today’s “straight fire” teen slang and how to decode it. It’s a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it. (BTW, straight fire means hot or trendy.)
So there I was, standing in line next to the teenager (who will remain anonymous so as not to divulge his stupidity … er, identity). It sounded like he was speaking English, but I’m not sure. I’ll call it “slanguage.” These days any parent — any adult for that matter — has to become “bilingual” in order to understand teen slang. But then again, is it really that important to understand teens? I’d rather watch Netflix ’n chill, which is a euphemism for … well, I’ll let you look that one up.
Some teens drop so many “lits,” “fams” and “jellies” when they speak that it’s hard to tell if they are paying you a compliment or secretly planning to burn your house down (Adult translations: lit = cool, fam = closest friends, jelly = jealous.)
If you’re an adult, whatever you do, don’t try to speak their slanguage. Most teens would die of embarrassment if you used their slang with them. I know. I did it recently while shopping with my teenage daughter: I pointed at a vacuum cleaner that was on sale and said, “That vacuum cleaner is straight fire and so totally lit that I want to smash it.”
After the paramedics revived my daughter, she said. “Dad you just said you want to have sex with a vacuum cleaner.” To which the 20-something paramedic chided me, “Zero chill, man, zero chill.” (That means uncool, man, uncool.)
I told them I was feeling rather “salty” (bitter) about the whole thing, which made my daughter clutch her chest and keel over again. The paramedic gave me the stink eye.
Stink eye. Now there’s a slang phrase you don’t hear often. It which means dirty look. It dates back to the 1970s.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, let’s bring back old slang words!”
That’s a good idea. Better yet, let’s put do an experiment and take a group of teens, preferably those standing in front of me in the checkout line, and send them back in time, say the 1930s, and see what slang they pick up.
Wouldn’t it be “slick” to hear a teenager say something like, “Don’t sell me a dog, man, didn’t you see that Zip with the door-knocker on his face cop a mouse because he couldn’t keep is sauce box shut?”
I’m not making those words up. I found them in a book called “Your Father’s Father’s Slang” by Shirley U. Jest. It’s amazing the things you find at the thrift store.
Now that I think of it, the above statement containing 1930s slang makes as much sense as today’s slanguage. I guess it’s true. The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s dope and I’m chill with that.
Oops. My daughter’s down again.
Scott Graves was editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot from September 2000 to November 2017. He can be reached by calling 541-469-3123 or email@example.com