Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Indignity of Slang

     I am not hip.  I do not keep up with young-people's speak or trends.  By the time things work their way down to me, they're usually on their way out.  Sometimes I say "totes," and that's about as hip as I can get.  Usually, I use it ironically anyway.  Or on accident when I'm typing.
     Years ago, I was initiated into a sub-culture where people very often used the word "jacked."  They used this to mean something was wrong.  Often, they said "jacked-up," to indicate it was messed up.  If you were fucked, you were jacked.  If your hat was on crooked, your hat was jacked.  If you accidentally wore a long sleeve T-shirt over your short sleeve T-shirt, you were jacked-up.  Your pants not inline with your shirt?  Jacked.  You enjoy mustard on your fries?  Jacked-up.  Basically, any detail slightly out of place or considered out of the norm was classified as jacked or jacked-up.  It was the only adjective we used.
     Shortly after this initiation someone from outside this sub-culture told me "I'm so jacked."  I was concerned.  Oh no, what could be wrong?  Apparently, this guy was excited, pumped up, generally enthusiastic about the events about to unfold.  I really didn't get it.  An argument ensued about the proper way to use the word jacked.
     I would later come to find out that jacked can be both good and bad, and there's really no way to know the difference.  You have to use context clues, or just know what the fuck that asshole is actually saying.  In a sentence such as "I am jacked" or "you are jacked" or even "Bill is so jacked," context clues don't help much.  According the the Urban Dictionary, jacked has five separate definitions.  To summarize: 1. robbery, theft, misuse, seizure, possession.  2.  very strong, huge muscles.  3. fucked up or messed up 4. To get robbed, mugged, rolled or beaten up by someone. 5. stoked or pumped or excited.  How was I to know?
     I had understood certain reappropriation of words to mean their opposite as a way to ... confuse parents, I guess.  I had Bad on vinyl, so yeah, I got that bad was good, as was wicked and a few others that have faded from memory.  Shortly after this whole jacked incident, I was faced with another slang indignity.

Oh man, Friday is sick.
It's sick, man.
Are you saying 'sick'?  Fri-day is ... sick?
Yeah, it's sick.
I don't know what that means.
Sick.  You know.  Like ill.
Ahh, that cleared it up.  Clearly, I was the moron.  Something was sick.  Should we help it?  Does it need a doctor?  Admitting I didn't know it cause Douchebag Max to call attention to my ignorance.  He actually called a small group of people over to stare at the unhip freak who didn't understand what sick was, and why the further explanation of ill didn't clear it all up.
     The impudence of being shamed into not knowing the many seemingly appropriate definitions of jacked as well as how all synonyms for illness mean great things has only increased my level of unhiptitude.  As does does using words like unhiptitude.

The thing about youth culture is I don't understand it.
     The indignity of slang is that it can mean anything at all, even the opposite of what you just said it meant, whenever you want it to mean that for no reason what so ever.  Come on slang, have some dignity.  Totes.

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