Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another fun look at slang!

I’ve spoken in the past of “I know, right”. A relative newcomer that showed great promise early on. I’m glad too. I think it’s cute. I like hearing it, right? So anyways, now that we have this great new thing to say to people after every statement uttered in any conversation, there are a few I’d like to see move on. Some phrases are a lot like Brett Favre. They end up signing with the Vikings. I mean, they just don't know when to quit. Hey! Maybe that could be a new slang phrase. Example:

"Did you see that Shim is racing again this year!"
"Yeah, what a Vikings signer!"

Below are my suggestion for phrases ready to be removed from our lexicon. My criteria is simple. I'm sick of them:

The first one that really really really bugs me is the sarcastic form of “Really”
As in the Saturday Night Live News thing:
Really. Blagojevich? Your head of hair is really prominent and you try to sell Obama’s seat? Really.
Or whatever. It’s done. Let it go. Please. I would have no objections to letting “let it go” go, either.

The second one is “It’s all good.” Thankfully, as soon as people got tired of Paul Hogan and well, Australians in general we stopped saying “No worries” . Why not come up with another clever way to say “I forgive you?” How about “The recent events have in no way altered the current situation which remains indistinguishable from what will certainly be commonplace behind heaven’s pearly gates.” I mean, that’s just off the top of my head. I’ll have to concise it up a little, but you get the idea.

And the third one I’m really sick of: “Crazy”, meaning “very”. Munson uses or used this one a lot. Now Denis Leary is using it in a Ford Truck commercial. A sure sign that if it was ever cool, it is not now. I think Mr. Leary is talking about the Ford Truck engineers as being “Crazy Smart”. “Crazy” is the bastard stepdaughter of the eighties gem, “Way”. I actually think Munson used to say this, too. It lasted longer because it made more sense. I never liked it though. I always thought of it as a California thing because that’s where I was when I first heard it. In fact, I moved back to Nebraska solely because I was afraid that if I stayed in California I’d have to walk around appraising everything as “Way cool.” My fear was that some day it would be the way I really talked. I’d rather shovel snow than talk like that. And it gets Crazy cold in the winter around here.

An interesting question is that if “very” was replaced by “way” which was replaced by “crazy”, what’s next? I’ll tell you, because I already know. My kids say it all the time and kids are our future. The word is “Poop”. My kids love this word. So if you don’t want to get left in the dust, start saying it immediately. Example: Dude, Where’d you get those poop cool pants? I’m poop envious of you.

Strangely, there are some tired old phrases that I’m not sick of yet. “It’s all good” has a cute little brother called “That’s what I’m talking about”. I don’t know why, but I find this way less annoying than “It’s all good”. It might be that it is actually a somewhat complete sentence. Although, if we wanted to obfuscate that puppy up, we could. “That’s my topic” would be nice. Upon seeing your favorite athlete accomplish something spectacular, “That’s my topic!” Then offer a high five to any takers.
Or simply “My Top” It would be every bit as nonsensical as “My Bad” used to be, but way more current since I just made it up just now.

Speaking of which, “My Bad” has been gone for a long time, but few realize it. How do I know? Gee, let me tell you a story …

One beautiful Saturday Morning, I took the boys (ages 4 and 6) to Panera. It’s one place we can all agree on. Usually we get into the car, and I say, where do you boys want to eat. Jack (6) says, that place that Grandma likes. He means Panera. We saw her there once.

Abe always gets a big cinnamon roll. Jack gets a breakfast sandwich. While we’re in line, Abe enjoys running into people, smearing his grimy hands on things, and breaking stuff. Good boy. On this particular morning, he accidentally rammed into the little old lady in front of us. She turned to him, glaring with an evil eye. She did not look at me. She wanted to hit him. She wanted me to correct or scold Abe in some way. Normally, I would if the victim seemed cool. But she was a grumpy old bitch in line at Panera. Fuck her. Ooh. I’m getting fired up talking about people giving my kids a dirty look even though they totally deserve it.

So where was I? Oh yeah. “My Bad” is long gone. So shawl wearing old crab lady is ordering and there is some sort of mix up. The cashier is a fine young customer service representative for the Panera Franchise, so she patiently explains the issue to the little old lady, who upon realizing her error, says “My Bad.”

Now my first thought is, “Gee that seems out of place for this old woman to say that.” Ohhh, I get it. The girl behind the counter is black. It all makes sense now. You said “My bad” to enhance your “street cred”. You think that’s what black people say. While I’m enjoying this deepening dislike for the old lady, the cashier says, “Wow, I haven’t heard that phrase in a long time.”

Oh my god. That was awesome. She said it in a way that was missed by the old woman.

I don’t feel comfortable with affectations. So, even though the cashier was an African American, I was able order normally, in God’s English with no mishaps. The transcript of this process follows. I call it “How to order at Panera and not make a complete fool out of yourself, version 1”:

Yo, yo, yo It is vitally important for me to get some breakfus up in here. Check it. My man Abe will bust a grub on that cin-o-min roll. And little J to the A.C.K. will enjoy a delicious breakfast sandwich with the bacon option. That’s my topic!

Me? I’ll jus pop a 40 of coffee and lemme grab a shim of that Bagel. That would be extraordinarily fly.

How much!?! Damn girl! You take debit cards? Oh shit, I forgot my Personal Identification Nizzle. You take checks? Dyn-o-mite!

Now how hard is that?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The First Husker Game

The date was September 29, 1973. It was at the stadium in Lincoln. The opponent was a worthy Wisconsin team. The Coach was the highly despised Tom Osborne. I liked Tom Osborne because he was young and good looking. Devaney, The King of Kings, looked old and short to me. I didn’t care for him. It was a day of many firsts for me, I was 8 or 9. Depending on whether I wanted to do something or whether I was crying about not being able to do it. It went like this:

“Dad, can [sic] I go to the whatever and do whatever?”

“What? Freddie, you’re 8 years old. Far too young for that sort of thing. Oh what? Now you’re going to cry about it? I don’t believe this. You’re 9 years old. Far too old to cry about stuff you’re too young to do.” No wonder Dad thought I was a mathematical genius.

But you know what I wasn’t too old or young for? A husker football game! Yeah!

I’m not sure why my dad decided to take me to a football game. I don’t think he ever really went that much. But it was an adventure that I still think about from time to time. I didn’t really follow football. I listened to the Nebraska games and cried if they lost. I was not assessed an age tax for that, though. It was the one acceptable reason for crying in our house. Oh yeah and saying “sucks”, as in “Tom Osborne sucks.” But I never said that because I liked Tom Osborne.

Pre-Game Preparation

The first thing we all did was drove to some bar. Two or three of my dad’s uncles/friends were there. There was also a pinball machine. I loved pinball. It was pretty much the coolest thing I had ever seen. I asked my dad if I could play it while he and his uncles discussed the upcoming challenge against the Badgers. I totally expected him to call me some kind of 8 year old, but nope. This was a special day. It was kind of like my dad was the Godfather, and his daughter was getting married today or something (Incidentally, my sister’s first child was a masculine one).

My dad’s uncle Bob was a stinking drunk. Literally. He really smelled awful and he was always drunk. He constantly picked his big, huge nose. He had the loudest voice of anyone I know. It was a great voice. I always thought he could have been a successful radio announcer. He wouldn’t even need a microphone. He was easily my favorite of my dad’s uncles. Mostly because all of those guys (including my dad) used to frequently brag about the fights they had and the many asses they had kicked. Not Bob. He bragged about always getting his ass kicked. Good stuff. On this day – my special day, Bob handed me a stack of quarters so I could go play the pinball machine. Neat. I stuck the quarters in my pocket and went over and started playing. Man, it was fun. Here I am in a bar playing pinball. Drunk people love kids in the bar. Especially drunk Husker fans. Everyone was donating quarters. I felt like some kind of celebrity or something. Yippee.

Then, some guy (probably a Wisconsin fan) who was obviously too shy to directly hand the quarters to me, subtly placed a stack of 4 on the edge of the machine. I looked up to thank him, but he was gone. This is great! I’ll be here for a long, long time. Then I get to go watch the Huskers and that hack Tom Osborne play against Wisconsin (whoever that is).

So, after draining my last ball, I grabbed one of the quarters off the edge of the machine and started my next game. This innocent little action set in motion a brand new “Ass kicking story”!

About 2 minutes later, I was putting another quarter into the machine …



“What are you doing? Those are my quarters!”

“Uh … oh, I, sorry, I thought …”

“Get outta here. It’s my turn you little punk,” apparently thinking I was a very short adult.

Well that was that. I was not sure what had happened. I did not know that the way to get in line for a pinball game was to place money on the edge of the machine. I was putting it together, but I was too scared and confused to make any sense of it, so I just went back to where my dad and his uncles were and sat down.

Dad: Is your game over already?

Me: That guy put his money up there and told me it was his turn … Where are you going, pops?

Dad walks over to the guy playing pinball. They're out of hearing range so I can only see what's going on. After some other gesturing, dad points to the front door. Pinball guy immediately leaves, without finishing his game or picking up his quarters.

“Ok, Freddie, that guy had to leave. He said he’d be honored if you’d play the rest of his game and use those silly old quarters still sitting there for any subsequent games you might wish to play.”*

Then really loud to nobody in particular, Dad said, “I’m sure nobody else in here likes pinball anyway, so you can play until we leave if you want.”


So after I got done playing pinball, it was time to head to the sporting event. Once we were seated, my dad asked me if I’d ever seen so many people in one place before. I was pretty sure I hadn’t, so I said “No.”

Next thing I noticed was how small the field looked. It seemed so much bigger on the radio. I now know it’s really just a pitching wedge from one end to the other, so …

What was cool about it though was my dad’s response to my observation, “They say people who think the field looks smaller in real life are paranoid.” I have never understood that comment. I don’t know if he was joking or basing it off of something he learned in psychology.† But I’ve always wondered if it was true. I have never heard anything about it, but it could just be part of a bigger conspiracy.

So then the game happened. It was a great time. All the way through. I remember the score: Nebraska 20, Wisconsin 16. Until today, I wasn’t sure about the team or the date. But I remembered the score. That’s how I found out the other two when I was researching this story.

I said to my dad, “I bet those guys who came here from Wisconsin feel pretty bad.” I didn’t realize it, but a Wisconsin fan heard my comment. My dad said, looking at the Wisconsin fan, “It was a good game. Both teams played well. I doubt they feel too bad.” Then the Wisconsin fan and my dad nodded to each other, kind of smiling about my comment. Wow. Dad just illustrated good sportsmanship in front of me at a Nebraska game. A few hours earlier, he booted a guy from his own pinball game and took his quarters as a fine for not giving them to me. Now he’s showing humility in victory.

So it made me think. A lot of times, Husker fans are called the greatest fans in the world. It’s something we learn very early on, if even from a group of drinking, brawling truck drivers. That’s pretty cool. That’s also why people now love Osborne so much. Even though he had huge shoes (figuratively) to fill when Devaney gave up the reins, in the long run, his example of sportsmanship eventually won over Husker Nation.

I’m just kidding. It was the National Championships. Nothing else matters around here.

* My dad has never used the word ‘subsequent’.
† My dad never took psychology.