In 2014, among other things, I’m resolving to abandon the project of good words in the service of bad coloquiality. And I really think you should join me. For both of our sakes. Herewith, a list of Words and Phrases You Ought to Stop Using in 2014.
“Amaze-balls.” I am shuddering right now. So earnestly that I can scarcely type. Please. Cease and desist with this tone-deaf affrontery. I mean, what does that even mean? Half an adjective and one of the basest nouns out there living side-by-side, with nothing but a hyphen crammed into the middle by way of explanation? Huh? Not only is this word semantically misguided, but more importantly, it’s also gross. Almost as gross as those chrome truck testicles that people (men) were so gleefully hanging from the trailer hitches of their trucks a few years back. You remember. And you probably thought they were visually offensive. Now consider this: every time you use this word, you are committing the same symbolic grosserie by forcing those around you to think about a saggy pair of nuts that are not attached to a human or animal that they love or care about. And studies have proven that disembodied extremities are disturbing and downright unholy. Do not invoke them.
“Jazz Hands.” Seriously. Just. Stop. That. Stop it! I get that you are aping this timelessly classic Broadway gesture – hands waving rapidly back and forth with fingers splayed out – as a colorful piece of improvised linguistic shorthand for “I’m really excited about X,” but it’s not working for me. When used to express happiness in an upbeat Facebook status update, it only conjures in other people’s mind an unbidden tableau of you standing frumpily on a street corner wiggling your hands limply and arrhythmically in response to whatever Great Fucking Thing just happened, while whoever you are hanging out with laughs awkwardly and a bum vomits in protest in the background somewhere, just on sheer principle. When used in person, it does the same thing, except I’m not imagining it and am forced, instead, to witness it firsthand, because – horrors! – you are very likely not just saying “Jazz Hands” without doing jazz hands (which would be sort of post-modern and therefore slightly less repugnant), but probably actually jazz-handing in accompaniment to your oral exhortations. And in this scenario, I become the awkward bystander who has to laugh awkwardly in salute of your zany display, when in reality I am chewing on a mouthful of angry bile and digging my fingernails into my palms inside my coat pockets and trying to avoid a spray of bum puke. It is Awkward. Awkward! Almost as awkward as the word awkward, actually. Which I misspelled in the Clackamas School District Regional Spelling Bee in seventh grade and am still pissed off about, which makes me, by extension, pissed off at you whenever you invoke this insipid piece of linguistic fluff. See? I’m getting angry. Enough with the jazz hands. As the French say, “Ca suffit.” That will suffice.
“Awesome Sauce.” Don’t say this, because when you say this, it makes me think of applesauce, which makes me thinking of having the stomach flu as a kid, which makes me think of barfing all over my purple footie pajamas after eating a bunch of spaghetti with tomato sauce. So it’s basically a full circle of Dee-Sgust-Ing! “Sauce” is a sick word and you should strike it from your vocabulary entirely. Also it makes me think of the time I was teaching English in Korea and one of my students’ parents gave me a face-whitening kit for Teacher’s Day and it came with a foil packet of some gooey, sharp-smelling substance called “Whitening Sauce” and I was completely freaked out. Worst present ever! Even worse than what I got from my bosses, Mr. Kim and Mr. Khang, for Christmas that year: a gigantesque gift pack of tuna cans that weighed like 20 pounds and gave me nightmares for a week. (See photo above.)
“Boo.” Do not, under any circumstances, refer to a romantic partner or close friend as your “Boo” at any point during the next 12 months. I promise: it will only make everyone around you hate you and root earnestly for the end of your relationship on sheer principle. And principle can be an ugly, stinky thing. (See: above references to bum puke.) That said. You may still use it to refer to injuries (if you are under the age of two, or if you are interacting with someone under the age of two) or to express fleeting disappointment or sadness (See: “Boo, that man just ran over my foot with his snowplow.”) You can also use it in the context of trying to scare someone, like maybe you are hiding in their cupboard and when they come down for breakfast and open up their cupboard door to retrieve a box of cereal, you leap out and scream “Boo!” and Cheerios fly all over like it’s Breakfast Armageddon. But That. Is. It.
I am begging you nicely.