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Assignment: A thousand word column for webzine, The Laughing Drunk. (August 2002)

AIGHT?

Aight? My fifteen-year-old nephew uses that word all the time. And it is leaching into my vocabulary. This can be a problem when you’re 44, live in a post-ironic age, and just got laid off from your hi-tech publishing job. You don’t want to appear desperate about being current.

But I like the way it is kind of slippery and can be used as a question and a statement at the same time. It’s terrifically economical. Like a nod of the head. And also great shorthand to either suss out agreement or segue a conversation to a close. It is the kind of word D’Angelo probably uses. The kind of word Sinatra and Nelson Riddle could’ve worked a swing arrangement around.

Getting Older is Strange. Being Young is Stranger.

In the 70’s one was always unsure how to shake someone’s hand. Use the standard, handed-down-generation-after-generation-hiya-
bob-how-are-you-doing version, or the newer and infinitely hipper clasped-thumbs-semi-soul method? More often than not, when I went to shake, my hand would make its approach as if controlled by a student pilot—nose up, nose down—as I tried to read the other person’s intentions. It was...uncomfortable.

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In the 80’s I worked the front desk at a yacht club in southern California. During a ten year high school reunion, one of the attendees milled around the lobby wearing a My Sharona suit, skinny tie, and a haircut that now would be universally described as a mullet. But, he was miles and miles cooler than the other attendees drinking margaritas. The ladies sported pastel, off the shoulder, ruffled gauzy dresses, the kind usually seen on hostesses at El Torito. He, however, looked NEW. And kind of brazen: 28, catching the new wave, sitting on top of the world, perhaps a little nervous about how he was being perceived, yet kinda pleased to be so edgy.

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And in the 90’s, Tammy Wynette, the queen of country music, joined up with the KLF on Justified and Ancient, beckoning everyone to join her in Mu Mu land. And damn, she sang those lyrics not only like she knew what they meant, but meant them herself. To use some already creaky 90’s vocab, “You go, girl.”

According to her fifth husband, George Richey, Tammy had to take to her bed for three days after Hilary Clinton, on “60 Minutes” defended her complicated relationship with her then-running-for-first-term husband, Bill, by saying, “I’m not just some Tammy-Wynette-Stand-By-Your-Man kind of woman.”

Tammy died some years later after enduring over 30 abdominal operations and enjoying a profound pain killer addiction. Turned out the pain killers were lovingly administered by her husband, who would later be accused by Tammy’s daughters of wrongful death.

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Oh yeah, I almost forget, then along came the Internet and e-commerce. And then it fall down and go boom.

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