Recently overhearing--oh, okay, eavesdropping on-- a conversation between my son, Charlie and one of his friends, I heard him solemnly refer to something as "sick."
Oh, no. One of his friends is sick or has done something sick or there is some plague at school or he is referring to the recent news story that 15,000 prostitutes are traveling to Dallas in case their services are required during Super Bowl....what could it be? It must be bad!
Well, it appears that "sick" is now some sort of a compliment.
There's more. "That shortstop is nasty," means not that he is a fresh little bastard who is rude to his fans. It means that he is very skilled on the baseball diamond.
I had only recently (last Thursday) come to accept that "bad" is really "good." That took years and I still resent it. But, now, it appears that another very basic word, a virtual building block of our vocabulary, has been turned on its ear. Brace yourselves, people over forty: down is now up.
If Seth asks if I want to grab breakfast out on a Saturday morning and it strikes me as a good idea, my response might be "Sure, I'm up for that!" If the same question is asked of Charlie, his response is, "Yeah, I'm down."
Huh? That makes absolutely no sense. If I protest, trying to maintain my idiomatic equilibrium, my sons look at me pityingly, happy to discuss between themselves what a poor dope mom has become. Maybe they're right. Or, maybe I will spit into their sandwiches...right under the tomato.
Change applies to a lot more than language: The daughter of a friend, who has a lovely but large tattoo of a tiger on her neck, recently went on a job interview. Her mother had worried that the tattoo was in a place that couldn't be covered, fearing it might affect her chances of getting hired. It turns out that the interviewer had more tattoos than the interviewee...and she got the job. It's a whole new world, her mother and I agreed...pleased, because this is a good change but also aware that the winds of change are ruffling our Dorothy Hamill "wedge" haircuts.
I think I now understand how a dinosaur must have felt when she looked up and saw the meteor about to land on her head.
I am also beginning to understand why my mother must have politely retched when dorms went co-ed, men started growing their hair and Mick Jagger pranced across the stage of the Ed Sullivan show with a filled Christmas stocking stuffed into his pants: slightly lost and a little betrayed. And, I am neither down, nor up, for any of this.
"Get with it, Mom" I'd sneer through a curtain of hair as I twirled my pseudo love beads in her direction. She'd flip up the collar of her floral snap coat to ward off my generational scorn. Who would ever have thought that the now, ironically, passe term of "generation gap" could ever apply to people as cool as my generation? Well, it does, and that, my friends, is sick. The real kind.