English is quirky, no doubt. But it is never quirkier than when slang phrases cross over into the established lexicon and start wreaking havoc like naughty children let loose in a candy store. Oh, the sweet deliciousness of words run amok! Some phrases have become so entrenched in normal conversation that we hardly bat an eye anymore when we hear them. But have you ever stopped to dissect them? The following three are my top contenders for the “Words Gone Wild” award.
These two little words are better than absolution from the Pope! When I hear this blessed incantation, the weight of my shortcomings drop off my shoulder like those last stubborn ten pounds. I have been lifted above the pedestrian struggles of the ordinary person because I now have permission to no longer give a rip!
What freedom! What relief! What de-stressing! Who knew that such a simple phrase had the power to liberate my inner Pumbaa? Hallelujah and Hakuna Matata!
I wish this handy little phrase had been around when I was a cub reporter, and later, a young mom. Imagine the professional snafus and parenting missteps I could have easily swept under the carpet with my “No worries” mantra. All that hand-wringing for nothing! Imagine all the wrinkles that would not be on my face if I had simply chanted, “No worries, nooo woorrrries, noooo woooorrrieesssss!’ Not to mention all the money I would have saved on Botox.
“Hey, rookie! You forgot to interview the other side of the story!”
“I did? Well, who needs another perspective? After all, boss, no worries!”
“Honey, I think letting the kids watch “Zombies Take over Vacaville,” has definitely scarred them for life.”
“You think so? Well, zombies are people, too (sort of). Besides, Vacaville needs a little excitement, so no worries.”
The phrase is so laid back I could have sworn it was started by a Southern California hipster. But it originated from the Land Down Under (where women glow and men plunder, according to the Australian band Men at Work). It’s their equivalent of our nonchalant “no problem.” But it is sexier, more magical and suave.
“No problem,” sounds like a reprimand and can imply there is, in fact, a problem. Or maybe I am the problem, but now I don’t have to be. I too can run amok without reprimand. My drab, vanilla world is now spinning with color and rainbows as I join Pumbaa and Timon in a Disney sing-a- long, “Hakuna Mata: it means no worries. It’s our problem free philosophy.”
No worries is a money back guarantee with no questions asked. When I screw up and you reply, “No worries,” I feel like I just won the lottery. And you know what they say about the lottery: our kids win, too! Not only am I unshackled from old-fashion guilt, but I am supporting public education.
When I say to you, “My Bad,” I know you immediately want to retort, “Your bad what?” Your bad grammar? Your bad command of the English language? Come on: don’t leave me fragmented.”
I am covertly admitting fault while avoiding those two dreaded words in the English language, “I’m sorry.” However, if love means never having to say you are sorry, then “My Bad” is all I have left. And you do want me to love you, right? So, see, I can’t say I am sorry. Did I cause you some grammarian angst with this phrase? My Bad.
I probably am sorry, but if I actually said that then you would hold the morally superior upper-hand and that would cause me to worry which goes against everything my problem-free philosophy stands for.
What I am banking on with “My Bad,” is that you will let me shrug off responsibility for my inexcusable behavior the way we let an adorable puppy get away with mischief. He may have been caught red-pawed eating off the table, but when he pulls that dopey eye thing he’s off the hook. Yes, I committed a no-no, but gosh darn it, I am just so cute with my sheepish “My Bad” non-admission, that you can’t help but give me a pass.
I know that I have to be careful, though. “My Bad” is usually heard on the mouth of teens, thugs and politicians who are looking for a lazy way to get out of a bad situation. It is kind of like YOLO, but not as creative. This nifty excuse started with street basketball players then jumped to urban slang. It is now officially acceptable corporate lingo for winking at incompetence and corruption.
“Did I just blow that $2 million merger? My bad!”
“I don’t know how that $6K ended up in my personal account when it was supposed to be deposited in the company account. My bad.”
Never have eight letters been packed with so much potential for good or evil. The difference is in the delivery. You can use it like “No Worries” to let someone know you are okay, it’s chill, everything is cool. Or can use it to effectively cut off an adversary from any further discussion, especially when you can’t think of a snarky retort. Sometimes you can also pull it out when trying to appear cool when, in fact, you are just a dweeb.
“I forgot your birthday. I am so sorry!”
“Hey, man, whatever, don’t’ stress.”
“I see you didn’t create a brochure that reflected the design theme. What planet are you living on?’
“Yeah, man whatever.”
“What do you think of Pappa Rapster’s new hit? You have heard it, right?”
“It’s like, you know, whatever.”
If you are a guy and a woman responds “Whatever,” tread carefully. It’s a loaded phrase akin to its cousin question: “Do these jeans make me look fat?” It’s a woman’ secret weapon in her verbal arsenal. “Whatever” can range from the mild, “I don’t give a hoot,” or “You are a pathetic loser,” to “something I can’t print here in this blog.” But you know.
“Sarah, I just don’t think I am ready to commit. Even though we have been dating for seven years, I am not sure. I just want you to know that it is me, not you.”
This would be a good time to enter the witness protection program because that particular “Whatever” is packing some heat. Just saying.
I also want ponder “Seriously,” and “Really,” because those two are wreaking havoc in the pulled-taffy aisle even as we speak. Seriously. They have definitely cut loose. Really.
But I will have to wait for another day because right now I hear something that sounds like glass breaking. A faint “my bad,” is coming from a kid in the kitchen. But no worries because my husband assured me he put my new crystal wine glasses high up a shelf where they would be safe.