Remember the days of being a chauffeur? And how you would be driving a car full of teenage girls to a party and they were like talking all at the same time in a high-pitched blur? And then when you tuned in it was like they weren't even listening to one another and like how could they have been because they were all talking about something else at the same time and like you tried to pretend you weren't listening and looked at the clock on the dashboard and thought "How much longer 'til we get to the party?" and like how many "likes" would you hear before your head exploded?
I remember driving home after dropping off my daughter and her friends, walking into the house and saying to my husband, "Shoot me."
It seemed like a very long ride back then, but now it's pretty darn quiet in the back seat. The girls are now dispersed in colleges across the country and I almost miss their fruity-floral scent of Viva La Juicy perfume. Looking back in the rear-view mirror, I am grateful they showed me how much I dislike serial "like"s and appreciative for how this gaggle of teens sharpened my hearing for annoying word trends. Now "so" is the new "like" and "whaaAAAaahhhh-T?" is a nice verbal backbend that, to be properly enunciated in hipster fashion, must be extended up and down a few octaves before dentalizing the final "t." (The more hillbilly the pronunciation, the more hip. And don't be afraid to lift that second syllable.)
"So when are you coming home for the weekend?" I asked my 20-something son living in Brooklyn during a recent phone call.
He said he and his girlfriend were going away the next weekend and had a party to go to the weekend after that. In a lame way, I tried to extend the airtime of our phone call with a long "whaaaaAAAAAAAaaaahhhhhh-T?"
"So what about the weekend after the following weekend?" he asked. "Will you and Dad be home?"
"So that sounds great," I said as I sought to re-align with a positive tone of dish-no-guilt-communication, especially since it was one of those blessed moments of communicating LIVE, rather than via email or texting.
As I hung up the phone, I looked down at my cuticles and realized there was no excuse for them to look so ragged. As an empty nester, I had practically all the time in the world to mani/pedi and not have to worry about rushing home to fix balanced starch/protein/vegetable dinners, as I had for more than 18 years.
To fill in the space until my son came home not next weekend, not the one after that, but maybe next, why not bring some linguistic levity to the homestead with my husband?
He called me the next day to see if I would pick up parmesan, corn Chex and oranges at the market before coming home.
"So, like, what are you doing tonight?" I asked after writing down the measly shopping list of three items. Since my husband and I have been married for 25 years, he immediately picked up my game.
"So I was thinking after you got that stuff at the market that maybe we could grab a burger and see a movie?" he asked. I loved his sense of whimsy on a Monday night and the fact that he ended that sentence the way our teenage daughter used to by making a declarative sentence into a big, fat question.
"Like, I would really like that," I said.
"So like, should we catch the 7:45?"
"WhaaaaAAAAAAAaaaahhhhhh-T?" (I was sure to dentalize that final "t.")
"So does that mean 'yes' or 'no?'"
"It means like, yeah," I responded. "I can dig that."
There was a silence and I could almost see my husband's eyebrows rise. I surmised that "dig" wasn't the right word to use. Thank goodness the children weren't there to hear the slip.
"WhaaaaAAAAAAAaaaahhhhhh-T?" he added. It didn't really fit the context, but there was something adorable about the way he stretched the syllables to a whole sing-song-y six seconds.
I had to think quickly.
"I like, like you," I said.
"So like I was feeling the same thing," he said. "About you."
"Say whaaaaAAAAAAAaaaahhhhhh-T?" I flashed with demure.
And there we were. Batting back and forth "so," "like," and "whaaaaAAAAAAAaaaahhhhhh-T?" like there was no tomorrow. With uncanny adroitness, my husband and I bantered in perfect 2012 teen and 20-something. And with no Gen Xers or millennials in the vicinity to ridicule my retro-linguistics, I'll tell you (and don't tell the children), it was a totally tubular moment.