The youth seem to have a language of their own, as I guess they always have had. It is not quite a whole language. It just involves a number of distinct phrases.

The other night one of my daughter’s friends left a voice mail message: “Hi Natalie.  Like it’s me. Like it’s one o’clock like but that’s OK.  Like you can call me back tomorrow.”

I am actually paraphrasing.  In reality there were at least 3 or 4 more likes in that message.  My daughter of course can readily match her friends in likes. And we’re talking university grads.

I overheard a friend of hers say, “Hey dad, like I have an exam next week in nuclear physics.  Like I’m not certain about the part about splitting the atom.  Can you help me?”

Where is the Ministry of Education? Or should I say, like where is it?

Then there is that greeting they use.  I don’t mean, “hi”, “how do you do” or “hello”.  My lawyer son greets his friends with a resonating “Hey”.  The recipient of  this greeting usually answers in kind with his or her “hey”.  Then along comes another chum and the two of them shout out to him, “Hey”.  The chum grunts back, “Hey”.

Hello has quite another meaning these days.  It is more derogatory.  If someone does not see the obviousness of your argument, you say to him sarcastically, “Hello??”     This is seen for example when your kids ask you for money for a movie and you give them $15.00, thinking you’re being generous.  They’ll look at you quizzically and say, “Hello??”

This hello usually means, “What about the popcorn and a drink.  Don’t you know this is the year 2017?  A combo now runs about $15.00.  This isn’t the 1960s anymore where ten bucks got you two movies, a coke and popcorn and a Volkswagen beetle”.

That last sentence can be completed with yet another expression, namely the phrase, “Get a life dad.”

That expression is often used by kids as a synonym for, “Hey, you just don’t understand what’s happening in the world. We do.”

This “hey” is the traditional hey, meaning “by the way”.

My younger son Gabriel uses a word which is very convenient.  It answers many questions, other than the one I might be asking.  I’ll ask him, “Gabriel, did you see my newspaper?”  He’ll respond, “Whatever”.  I notice he and his colleagues use that one frequently.  It’s almost as if I am now supposed to respond, “Oh yes of course, it’s in the den under the sofa cushion.  How silly of me.  Thank you.”

I wonder whether that word can get the kids through an exam. It would be neat if on a history test a question appears asking, “Who was Napoleon?” and you can get away with replying, “Whoever”. After all the kids probably know the answer anyway.  Why bother them for the details?

My favourite expression is the term used when there are problems.  There is a word used covering all these contingencies.  Natalie will say, I have to speak to my significant other about why he did not get me flowers for Valentine’s Day. He probably has “issues”.

For the uninitiated, an issue is not an edition of a newspaper like the one I couldn’t find earlier on as it was located “wherever”.  Issues go beyond problems.  An issue denotes an entire psychological makeup explaining the behaviour of the culprit who has them.  You use that term and you sound knowledgeable.  If for example you want to make a worthwhile comment about why North Korean leader Kim Jong would want to nuke us all, just say in passing, “Kim Jong has issues.”  All listening to you will nod affirmatively, take a puff on their virtual pipes and say, “Of course, that’s it.”

Bless the kids.  And what do we learn from all of this?  Whatever.


I am recently retired from the practice of law.  Alas, I have the leisure to observe and laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you and your group at your next event. Please email me at [email protected].

I am also delighted to announce the launch of my new book, Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Humour, available on Amazon, iBooks and other retailers.  It would make a great read for anyone who has ever naively tried to use reward points expecting to book a “free” flight, had an airline lose their luggage, or wondered when your right to return to the all your can eat buffet legally ends.

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