Urban Dictionary

I teach teenagers literacy classes like mountaineers climb ridiculous chunks of punishing rock. Sometimes I think I do it because, like rocks – they are there. Maybe I enjoy being pushed to the limits of tolerance. Teenagers have no hidden agendas – they would never be able to fit one in around their all encompassing self interest. They are incredibly honest. An honesty often prefaced with a 'no offence but…' and then something fairly offensive is flung about in the form of an opinion that can be knee cappingly direct. Disarming I think the word is. They leave you without weapons or limbs, yet laughing. I had thought that modern adolescents suffered from such a paucity of vocabulary as to render them almost on a scale of high functioning autism – especially the boys.

Once, I even had to ring an immigration official who was refusing to give residency to a long established family on the grounds that their teenage son could not speak any English. I told him the boy had been born here and was in fact as Kiwi as any other teenage boy his age - which meant he existed in a sub-lingual state. Effectively he could navigate his environment with a cleverly negotiated set of codes including sophisticated hand shakes and slaps and the ever expressive raised eyebrows as a form of salute to other teenage boys. It was all he needed. The official insisted that he had asked him how his weekend had been and the boy had just grunted. Which seemed age and culturally appropriate to me.

Teenage boys don't explain lame stuff that is already OVER. What I didn't know is that teenagers, far from suffering from a lack of words to express themselves, are in fact landlords of a wide lexical domain – a kingdom that it appears I am exiled from. Like the high pitched ring tones I can no longer hear and with which they torture me to prove how out of touch I am, the words they use are not in my command. Here is an example: 'That is so scuxx, why is she giving you the cold finger – are you just getting lonerised?' When I asked for clarification I was referred to the online Urban Dictionary but not until they'd given me a fake definition for scuxx and then made me repeat it several times in a variety of sentences.

Back at home, humiliation and a grudging respect for their ability to keep a poker face throughout their shameless wind up battled for supremacy. The cold finger is the text generation's equivalent of the cold shoulder and the act of marginalisation and indifference designed to make someone a school yard loner is, 'to lonerise.'

The urban dictionary is to older generations what binoculars must have been to 19 century bird watchers. Radical insights into foreign worlds.

I learnt that I never had a job at the Northland Polytech – what I had was a career trajectory, a career path marked by increasing amounts of tragedy, lameness, futility, ineptitude, respect, and/or pay. Excellent. I discovered the purely adult pastime of 'pretendships' you know, like what the Maori and National parties had. I realised that I would probably become a scud parent – the kind of maternal nightmare that shows up at clandestine teenage drinking parties, goes off like a scud missile and then embarrassingly drags the offspring back to the car and home to bed. The kids' definitions of 'Whangarei' were particularly enlightening. 'Small town north of Auckland – it has a good skate park and not much else.' 'Bed gravity' pulls me into its evil vortex every morning for an extra 10 minutes sleep and prententiatarians are those annoying people whose diet involves a liberal dose of extreme liberal judgementalism. Like my ex-flatmate who once spent the weekend on E and other chemical cruise ships and then had the gall to ask me if the carrots I was chopping up for dinner were organic. Yeah. Because E is so organic. Finally – I can put a word to it. All thanks to those 'inarticulate' teenagers.

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