About five years ago, I was talking with a young woman I'd recently started working with, and she was asking me questions about marriage. She was dating a guy who, when they first got together, expressed a disinclination for and a distrust of marriage. So she was asking me things like "How do you know when you've met the right person? How do you know when it's time to get married?" We had a long conversation over lunch one day.
However, this post isn't about lofty subjects like soul mates, and life choices, and big A-HA moments. This post is about how during our conversation I kept getting completely thrown off by her use of the phrase: "I know, right?"
She freely sprinkled "right?" into our entire conversation. This was new to me. I had been raising small children for a few years, and had been out of the work force. I was very up on lingo to describe bowel movements...not so much on lingo being used by pretty much everyone else. It was incredibly disorienting, this feeling that I was having a conversation with someone and yet I didn't understand all that much of what she was saying.
Now? I use it all the time. Just did a moment ago in a text to a friend. Here's the thing: I always feel like a poser when I use it. Because every time I say it, or type it, I remember that first time I ever heard it, and just how confused I felt.
Young woman: "I know, right?"
Me, in my head: "What? Right? What's right? What do you know? I'm so confused...are you asking me if you are right? Is that like the opposite of wrong? How, exactly, am I supposed to respond to 'I know, right?'"
Language is so confusing. Just when we think we know what's going on, these young upstarts come up with new phrases and all this jargony jargon. Those of us no longer in the Generation of the Moment just have to hold on as best we can and hope we (a) understand what's going on and (b) don't sound like complete dorks when we participate in the conversation.
So all you young upstarts, remember: Your elders don't want to be left behind, but we might take a bit longer to catch on. Right?