I was recently whipping up a new recipe for the fam, which is newsworthy all by itself. If we’re being honest, 22 years of meal preparation for a family of six can cause severe burnout. But on that special day, I was feeling inspired. That is, until I taste-tested my cauliflower rice stir-fry and declared with satisfaction that it was “on fleek.”
Insert the sound of dishes crashing to the ground and children with jaws – and phones – dropped long enough to look at me with horror in their eyes. As in, I could only see pupils.
I was simultaneously lauded and scolded for knowing the phrase in the first place and using it in reference to Sunday night dinner. But the default advice is always, “Um, Mom, don’t.”
How often do I hear that phrase when I’m exercising my super hip ways? I guess these little darlings don’t know they got all their coolness from me, OR that I’m speaking their language all for their benefit. I got their attention, didn’t I?
Apparently, I got the whole fleeking thing wrong. If I have to look up a word in Urban Dictionary, it’s lost all validity, but I do what I can to translate and relate to this little world around me. It is confusing sometimes for an old antique like me, so I rely heavily on the masters to keep me current on the young people’s vernacular.
For instance, according to my daughters, the phrase “on fleek” is mostly used when referring to the PERFECT application of eye makeup or a well put-together outfit. Well, NOW I know why I’m misusing it…I only wear real clothes and apply eye makeup once a week, and that’s only because whatever destination I’m headed to has a dress code that requires more than yoga pants and sunglasses. Working from home has its benefits, but maintaining fashion expert status is NOT one of them.
The real problem here is that most of these “words” and phrases being used don’t really mean what they sound like they should, so it’s only natural I need a little more education to follow a conversation amongst my short people. Recent lessons include:
“That’s fake.” Until now, I thought if something was fake then it was, well, not real. This could mean a knock-off handbag, a person who pretends to be someone they’re not, or a driver’s license with an altered birthdate. While it CAN mean a two-faced friend or a pleather Louis Vuitton, calling someone “fake” can also mean virtually ANYTHING from acting uncool or too cool or mean or stingy. What’s the point of having a word when it means the same thing as 20 other words?! Also, “fake” is often interchangeable with “shife,” which sounds more to me like a prison weapon, but what do I know?
Doing “werk.” This one is interesting. From what I’ve gathered, this is NOT the “work” I know of, nor do I want anyone getting paid for this type of work. Yikes. This kind of work is deemed to be celebratory and can only be done by shaking one’s rear end while saying the word repeatedly. Which begs the question: is werk the root word of twerk, hence the rapid movement and repetition? Food for thought.
Speaking of food, has anyone ever heard, “Ew, gag me with a spoon!” Meaning gross, no way, disgusting, or “as if!” No? I didn’t think so. Moving on.
“So extra.” This one is my favorite. It means, quite simply, unnecessary. You will commonly hear this used by one older sister to one younger brother any time he says or does something she deems annoying. It is ALWAYS used in conjunction with a hard eye roll. I personally have adopted this phrase to refer to the litany of social media posts that are over the top and/or close-minded/incapable of accepting constructive criticism or that everyone doesn’t believe the same things. But I digress.
“You mad, bro?” This is self-explanatory and usually follows calling said younger brother “extra.” Yes, big sis, he is mad.
“Bruh.” Speaking of bro, don’t forget his lazy cousin, “bruh.” I can only imagine this word was invented by someone too exhausted from all that WERK to pull up their pants and pronounce the long “o” sound. ENUNCIATE, PLEASE!
“Your mom.” Lest we forget it’s not all about your bros and bruhs. One of the most common comebacks in our house, “Your mom,” is the modern-day equivalent of “I know you are, but what am I?” Charming, right? This nonsensical quip can be applied to just about any situation.
Me: “Who are you texting?”
Kid: “Your mom.”
Me: “Can you take out the trash?”
Kid: “Your mom can take out the trash.”
Me: ALL pupils.
Kid: RUNS to the trash can.
The exception, of course, is when I try to use it on my kids, because essentially I’m just answering them with, “Oh yea? Well, Me!” Not quite the zinger I was looking for.
“Throwing shade.” I had to learn this one from the first episode of Fuller House. Yes, I still rely on what I know! To put it simply, this refers to giving bad attitude/judgment/dirty looks or talk towards someone. My thoughts? It’s 80 degrees outside at the beginning of March. Why don’t you throw some of that shade my way?
There are a few that I just accidentally get right. You can imagine her surprise when my college kid asked for some money and I replied, “You need a hundo?” I was just guessing when I threw that out there, knowing she couldn’t judge me too harshly over text. And because she did, in fact, need a hundo, she did not judge and sent me a high five emoji and a “Nice one, Mom.” Mom for the W.
The list is endless as new slang continues to replace the good old English language. I have plenty of reminders that I’m not as young as I once was, but you can’t stop this old dog from learning new tricks. Catch me next time as I reveal the age-old origins of “salty” and dissect the abbreviations of the future.