I don’t really know what anyone is talking about

Last year Jack kept using the phrase going ham, which took a few weeks for me to figure out meant throwing oneself into the task at hand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in: Lookit that dog, going ham with the Frisbee.

Or: I saw this guy in his car at the stoplight, going ham with the music on his radio like no one was watching.

But apparently less often: I’m going to go all ham and get my homework done before dinner.

I thought it was kind of a micro slang thing, a term he and his buddies starting using at school for no discernible reason other than it added another check on the teen cred score card. I wasn’t sure why they settled on cured pork for their idiom, but that was beside the point. Even if it made sense, it’s hard to get anything to really go viral if you’re only working with the teensy student body that makes up his school.

Then I found the term on Urban Dictionary and realized it had more reach than something coined by a couple dozen or so kids in matching polo shirts, and it still wasn’t referring to what your mother in-law may have brought over for Easter brunch.

I broke it out once myself this week, in pretty fine form, too.

If you don’t do the dishes, I’m going to go all ham and take your phone away.

I put on my best ghetto face (I think), with duck lips, and made an upside-down peace sign. I kind of scared even myself.

Really, mom? That “ham” thing is so twenty-thirteen.

For freaking real? If this stuff changes that quickly, there’s no hope for me. I’d only just now forced myself to stop typing double spaces after a period – which I was probably supposed to be doing as of about seven minutes after I took 9th grade keyboarding class in 1983. I rather doubt I’m going to be able to change my whole damn vocabulary every semester.

I’m a totally pathetic parenting cliche.

I remember telling my dad that Paul Jones and I were officially going together. This was a couple years before keyboarding class, when people were starting to pair up. Paul and I weren’t totally each other’s type, but we didn’t want to be left out. The singles scene was brutal in junior high.

“What do you mean?” Dad said. “Where are you going, exactly?”

I’m pretty sure he was kidding. I mean, what kind of moron didn’t know that going together meant … well … almost nothing except that we weren’t NOT going together? For God’s sake, Dad, we held hands in art class once, do I have to SPELL THESE THINGS OUT? I mean, next we’re going to have to have that talk about the birds and the bees. Work with me here.

Then there was the whole duh thing, which I’m pretty sure is still a thing, right up there with der, doy, and dooh. In fact, I know duh is a thing because I still use it, and everyone knows I’m the heppest of hepcats (double spaces after periods notwithstanding).

But my parents steadfastly refused to understand that “NO duh” is not a statement of disagreement, but rather: “I simply cannot believe you’re admitting to realizing something that has been completely obvious since the invention of air.” Their stance was something I was sure was a complete affectation. Like, somehow they were trying to remain above the fray of slang. So cool and aloof.

I kid. Nobody thinks their parents are cool or aloof. I thought they were hopelessly out of touch. But I’d like to think now that a part of me believed then that my parents were too cool to stoop to using teen slang.

When Mike asks the kids “what is happening …. dawg?” with an accent like that Long Duk Dong kid in Sixteen Candles, it always makes me laugh until I pee a little, only partially because it makes kids roll their eyes. If you’re going to be hopelessly unhip, you may as well own it, you know?

Still, I was a little proud of my coming to the realization that ham could be so much more than deli. Now, Jack won’t tell me what the new luncheon meat-slash-term-for-something-completely-different is. Might as well make up my own slang.

Not really. It’d be like going all pumpernickel on his rutabaga anyway …Yo.


All I know is this post just about killed my grammar-checker. If you vote, It’ll be all better. Thank you.



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  1. I am completely failing to drop that second space. Just. Can\’t. Do it.

    Also, I\’m so old they still called it typing class when I took it.

  2. In my day it was \”going around\”. Going around what, exactly? I have no idea.

    But I frequently hear, \”Mom, you can\’t say that. It just doesn\’t work when you say it.\”