My college son texted me after a particularly hard test at school the other day.
“Bombed it,” the text read.
I wanted to respond with my support.
But does “Bombed it” mean he aced the test?
Or flunked it?
Did I need to reply: “Oo, so sorry, dude!”?
Or was the correct response: “You are on fire, man!”?
The way I saw it, this was one of those make-it-or-break-it moments in parent-to-child relations.
How I replied to “Bombed it” would forever cinch my role as a) a hip, Aeropstale parent who soooo could use a bikini butterfly tatoo or as b) a frumpy middle-aged poser ready for the glue factory and the elastic waistband crowd.
Carefully weighing my options from the grocery store parking lot where I sat with my cellphone, I considered the many slang uses of the word “bomb.” Some of them I knew were bad, suggesting imminent flunk age. Some of them I knew to be good, suggesting an aced test, to wit:
“That concert was the bomb” is usually good.
“I heard Gordo got bombed at Guido’s the other night,” meanwhile, is bad, if you hate hangovers and/or you’re watching “Narcos” on Netflix.
But then, “Yo, homey, that sound coming outa your Bluetooth is the bomb dot com” is good – assuming you like music.
No wonder I’m confused. And while I’m at it, I think of the other confusing pop lingo to which my kids and “The Office” have exposed me. You’d think “sick,” and “wicked,” for example, would be bad – since one means you might have the Swine flu and the other is attached to Dorothy’s enemy at Oz. Only they’re not, especially when “bad” really means “bad,” which it often doesn’t.
Same with “dope.” Everybody knows the slang word “dope” means either a doofus, or drugs – both of them suggesting negative connotation.
But then I think about the blog my son started for his sister’s high school soccer team weeks before the “Bombed it” text event. Writing about the goalie, who is a totally sick, wicked dudette in the goal box, my son said: “Abby B. is dope.”
I was thinking at the time that “dope” is related to drugs, which I know Abby B. is not.
I was also thinking my son’s blog will be read by a lot of people – including Abby B.’s parents – who probably also think “dope” is drug-related.
Just to be on the safe side, I yelled down to my son after I read the blog, “You DO think Abby B. is a good soccer player, right?”
“Yeah, mom, dope is a good thing,” he yelled back.
I could almost hear him roll his eyes.
He was on to me.
He’s been on to me for weeks. Which made this “Bombed it” thing uber critical mass.
My son knows, simply by virtue of the fact that he is 21, that he is hip. He doesn’t need Urban Slang Dictionary.com to tell him that “bra” has replaced “bro,” that “sweet” and “epic” are good and “wack” is bad, that “ure trippin’ ”, “shizzle my nizzle” and “shawty” are all in the zone, and exactly what does this email mean that I got from another hipster wanna-be parent in response to my call for urban language advice: “I will keep your wack project in the dome while I practice my stale-fish 540”?
My son’s mother, meanwhile, hangs on the precipice of hip.
He gets his hipness by being.
I get mine by living in the same house with hip, and by clinging to memories of my days as a groovy chick.
I got my son’s “Bombed it” text and then I sat in the grocery parking lot and typed “Y-A-A-A-Y!!!”.
I clicked send and closed my eyes.
His reply: “Uh, Mom, I didn’t do well on the test.”
I may be a poser, but at least I was thinking the best of my son.
Debra-Lynn B. Hook of Kent, Ohio, has been writing about family life since 1988. Visit her website at debralynnhook.com; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or join her column’s Facebook discussion group at Debra-Lynn Hook: Bringing Up Mommy.