Thursday, September 10, 2009


I saw a tiny little kid in a group of pre-schoolers greeting his uncle, giving him a hi-five. Of course, I've seen that before -- kids greeting each other, teenagers hi-fiving, and women, girls, business-men as well as school boys.

It's become a commonplace "Hello," normal, natural, typical, like "Hey dude. Hey man!"

I have to admit, I've never GIVEN or GOTTEN a hi-five.

I'm uncomfortable, taking on the slang, or the style of the sports heroes who've been hi-fiving for years. Is it race prejudice that makes me uneasy with people who love borrowing from the blacks, and call each "Bro?"

I know "cool" is an acceptable form of praise. And "hang out," and phrases like happy-camper, bottom-line are constantly, used, over used, by just about everyone except me.

Am I square, a kook -- because I avoid saying "cool" unless I'm talking about the weather?

I tell myself that my big thing about the way people talk is from writing dialogue for different projects that take place in different eras. I look up words that don't sound right in the mouth of a lady born in the 1870's, or a woman from Harlem in the thirties -- or a school kid in the seventies. What they say and how they say it derives from what was happening when they were growing up.

Okay. I'm sensitive. Blame it on my writing. I worry about the new, younger generation -- the kids who text. Texting mixed in with rap slang sounds like a foreign language.

Will the little ones who hi-five and watch cartoons all day, every day, become the next generation of writers -- develop further the style that's already in movies, TV, and ads? The creative soul behind them seems as if it sprung from a reality show version of the end of the world.

Confession: Most of the latest hit movies make me wish for a translation line at the bottom of the picture.

I want to stay current without losing what I am. Maybe what's not okay is growing older, and no longer being able to identify with what's in vogue (wrong word), what's hot and chill out about it.

All right, hi-fives are okay. What's not okay is speech that I don't understand. Muttered, slurred, endless strings of vile words, that is passing on to the kiddies an American way of talking that isn't English, that's often bad, really lousy grammar, and sloppy jabber that's isn't communicating anything, but limited intelligence.

So click this. It kind of cheered me up, about talking black.

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