Like the beloved books that were once banned from reading lists, I too have had to become the bearer of banning. But rather than creative literature that angered a few with pull, it’s my mother, Cork Head. After decades of her key phrases, “Holy Toledo, Batman,” “Gag a maggot,” and because she must have a soft spot for gagging, “Gag me with a spoon,” she decided to branch out.
“Enough with involuntary throat references!” she must have said. “My catch phrases must evolve!” And then she slammed her gavel of truth and let it be. Cork Head had made an announcement, and unless it was staying awake through an entire movie, it would stick.
To add culture to her vocabulary, Cork Head began listening to pop references. Reality TV shows, sit-coms, Hallmark movies; whenever she got the remote, she was studying. She also took notes of her own reality show: her kids, until eventually, she began using the words on her own. Generally it when meeting someone new, or when the most people were listening. Say, if my college roommate had come for dinner, and the spaghetti sauce was a mess, she’d say “Woah, dog. That’s a huge biff.” And then she laughed far too hard, like she’d just told a joke. Not realizing that “biff” meant to fall, she’d doubly faux pas-ed: once for misusing the phrase and again for being over 40.
What’s worse (but probably better), is she’s not trying to be cool. She knows she sounds like a dork; she does it to be funny.*
As technology advanced, her misinterpretations only grew. When texting, LOL meant “lots of love,” WTF stood for “Wednesday, Thursday, Friday” – as a form of abbreviation that boycotted half of the week. Sometimes she flat out asked what terms meant – mostly the ones you don’t want to discuss with your mother – until I introduced her to UrbanDictionary and she could experience the embarrassment on her own.
Then, when she announced that she was “peacing” and could I please have my laundry “under wraps” when she returned, the list was born. I brainstormed every “hip” word she’d learned; the fact that she used them out of context made it much easier. And I wrote them down and told her she was not to say it.
- Up in my grill
- That’s ghetto
- Cool beans
- My biz-nass
- What the what?! (Liz Lemon, I apologize)
- For realz
She was to say none of them.
But just like the real banned books, the un-authoritative word blockade did nothing. (Eventually) She still used them. Albeit with less frequency, but they were still said all the same. And because words can’t be filtered or unheard, I knew it was happening.
“Those hipsters walk with swag.”
“Do you still talk with Courtney? Weren’t you homies?”
“Josh Groban is a baller.”
Today, she still makes these obscure references, but I’m no longer the one she’s embarrassing. With a going-on 18 brother, and a sister who’s just a few years older, I’m now on the laughing end of the spectrum.
Hold on tight, kids, I’m helping her sign up for Twitter. The world only knows what she can learn there; hashtag glorious.
*Now that I’m out of high school (and college), it totally is.