So I’m like, ‘Stick it up your nose!’
“God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” That’s from the Bible.”And I’m like ‘Dude!’ And she’s all, like, ‘What?’ And I’m, ‘You know what!'”That’s from the J-Bar.Aside from the obvious point that the general level of discussion has gone downhill pretty steeply over the past few years … OK, hang on, I know it’s been more than a “few” years since that “Let there be light” business, but I’m not going to pick any kind of specific number of years (50, 5,000, 50 billion) because I have no desire to get sidetracked in the Creationism vs. Evolution debate. Let’s just agree that it’s been “a while.”So, anyway, aside from the steep decline in the level of discourse … and, now that I think of it, I have heard someone in the J-Bar declare, “Let there be beer!” But I’m not going to count that as really much of an improvement over “And I’m like, ‘Dude!'”So, as I was trying to say, before all the interruptions, aside from the decline in the blah-blah-blah, what I really want to talk about is the disappearance in common conversation of the word “said.”You can almost tell someone’s age from the verb they use to describe the act of speaking.Now, I’m not talking about writers, who always seem to be trying to find some kind of fancy word to use instead of plain old “said.” Read a newspaper, read a novel. Heck, read a classified ad. People don’t just “say” things, they laugh them, shout them, whisper them, confess them, avow them, assert them.”I’m guilty,” he admitted … he giggled … he shrieked … he bragged … he warbled … he gleezled.(Or, moving to the classified ad department: “‘Total body massage,’ she winked … she blushed … she giggled.”)So never mind about any of that – it’s just us writers trying to show off our big vocabularies (as if that makes up for our tiny paychecks. Make that “minuscule paychecks” … he harrumphed.)As I was saying, old folks like me – people who were around to hear that first “Let there be light” in person – tend to use the verb “to say” when talking about what people … you know, say.So our old-fogy conversation goes like this:”So, I said, ‘Hey, that’s my garbage can.’ And he said, ‘Prove it.’ And I said, ‘Suppose I just cram it up your …'” Well, you get the idea.Then, a few years ago, “say” was replaced by “go.””So, I go, ‘Hey, come here often?’ And she goes, ‘Dry up, creep!’ And I go, ‘You like me, don’t you?’ And she goes and calls the cops.”Poetry, isn’t it?And then the next step was the move from “to go” to the most basic verb, “to be.” And that simple verb is often modified by the addition of “like,” or “all,” or even both, as in “all like” or “like all.”And we get:”So, I’m ‘Hey, that’s my girlfriend.’ And she’s like, ‘Says who?’ And he’s all like, ‘Dude!’ And I’m like all, ‘As if!'”We’ve gone from a verb describing a specific action “to say,” to a verb describing more generalized action “to go,” to a verb describing simple existence, “to be.”Some fussy people might call this a nasty stumble down the linguistic stepladder, but I’m not so sure. After all, using “to be” means that people have become deeply, totally identified with what they say.Once you just simply “said,” “Hey, stick it up your nose!” Now, you really truly are, “Hey, stick it up your nose!”There’s true commitment there – and commitment is, after all, the essence of poetry.”And God was like all, Let there be light!”And there was light.”Dude!”Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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