It's hip to be square

Scanning the news of the day on the internet this morning, I came across the story of American Idol winner Carrie Underwood signing an endorsement deal with Skechers. She was quoted as saying, "Being a part of Skechers is exciting. It is such a hip company with a great attitude and image." Hmmmmm. Thinking about the word "hip" that she used there. Obviously she wasn't making a reference to a part of the body that senior citizens commonly need replaced. So she must have been using slang. This leads me to ask, is "hip" still a "hip" word? I personally use it in similar contexts which leads me to believe that it's no longer hip.

Slang fascinates me. It's ever changing and by the time you finally figure it out and are able to use it, it's instantly dated. Think of words like "square," "rad,""totally," and "wack" which all had their hey-day but now are nowhere to be found. I remember back in college, we actually had a few months when the guys on our floor in the dorm would invent our own slang and see if it would transfer out to the broader world. I wish I could remember some of those words. Somewhere there's a youth minister in middle America using slang we made up at CCU.

A few nights ago Kelly and I finally watched Save the Last Dance on TBS. The phrase that the "hip" African American girl use was "slammin." This movie has been out a few years and I'm not sure that I've ever heard someone refer to an object, situation, or member of the opposite sex as "slammin." So I guess I missed out on slammin' and will, most likely, never get the opportunity to use it. And if I did use it, I would most certainly not be hip. I'm reminded of the scene from Meet the Parents when Ben Stiller meets his girlfriend's younger brother, whom he's trying to relate to. First he referred to the brother's poster of Little Kim saying, "Little Kim...she's phat-- 'P' 'H' phat." Then as he's leaving he promises, "Don't worry about sneaking out--I'll keep it on the low-down." The brother replies, "down-low," to which Stiller responds, "no doubt."

There's nothing worse than someone using slang that's so five minutes ago [case in point: the number of people over the age of fifty making "bling-bling" references]. But you can still be environmentally conscious and recycle old slang. This is how you do it: Say it in such a way that makes fun of the slang. As long as you don't take yourself seriously when you use it, you're golden. Two examples:

1) Within this past year I discovered the phrase "snap" and immediately fell in love with it. Unfortunately, I learned that the term is five years old. I shouldn't be able to use it without being chastised. But I use it at least once a week around high school or college students, and I'm able to generate laughs with it. Just place it in dialogue like this:

Other person: "Did you hear that Mr. McGee has typhoid?"
Me: "Oh, snap!"

Brilliant stuff here, friends, and it's all free.

2) The word that refuses to die:"word." Because of it's presence in 1990's rap music, "word" has widespread exposure and is still viable for use. Once again, you have to deliver it in a mocking way, but it's still loads of fun. Just place it in dialogue like this:

Dr Wolf: A measuring device does not collapse the wave function according to quantum physics. That assumption although popular and practical turns out to be incorrect as careful experiment indicates
Me: "Word!"

It's just that simple.

It would be wrong here not to play homage to the ultimate enduring slang term: cool. When has "cool" not been cool? Cool, we salute you. When all else fails, you are there. You're so hip.