Monthly Archives: December 2014

College Slang 101: How to Talk Like the Cool Kids (in 1989)

College Slang 101, by Connie ElbeWhat the hell are kids even on about these days? With their “adorbz” and their “baes” and their :”social justice for alls,” they sound like that talking lion that popped out of my pillow after I accidentally double-dosed on Ambien. They’re incomprehensible, is what I’m saying. Especially once they get to college.

Fortunately, I have in my hands the definitive guide to college slang! Unfortunately, it’s from 1989. Let’s glean what we can from it anyway.

The Basics
The words making up this lexicon are derived, as far as I can tell, from the personal experiences of Connie Elbe, an English professor at the University of North Carolina. While that would seem to limit our scope to the words one particular teacher’s students used in one particular year on one particular campus, Professor Elbe assures us that: “College Slang 101 is a really ‘rad’ (excellent) book for word mavens of all stripes and anyone who wants to understand the ‘second language’ of students across the country.”

Don’t be intimidated, though. She doesn’t chuck her readers into the deep end straight off. Like any good teacher, she begins with the basics.

BarfThanks, Connie Elbe.

Memory Lane
Embarrassing admission: while some of these are new to me, I’m actually just old enough to remember a lot of them. Here’s one I hadn’t thought about it a while…


…because it enrages me and my doctor wants me to watch my blood pressure.

And another:

Know what I mean, Vern?

What the hell do you mean ‘commercials,’ Elbe? This is a quote from ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS, you uneducated swine!

That’s Not What I Thought It Meant
Languages evolve. Nowhere is that more evident than in some of the phrases Elbe lists, which, though apparently innocuous in 1989, have since become a little more risque.





Get off

Congrats, Coye.

That I am an immature perv is perhaps beyond dispute, but if someone says: “All I wanted to do was get off, but those wankers won’t stop pegging me,” I like to think most of us would work up a pretty healthy blush. And possibly call the authorities.

The Best of the Best
At heart, though, I’m a fan of slang. It’s fun and keeps the language fresh. In that spirit, I present to you my favorite entries from College Slang 101:

Turd Poodle

Where has this term been all my life?


I’d never be rude or misogynist enough to use it for its intended purpose–but I’m still strangely glad it exists.

Fratty bagger

Beats the hell out of “bro.”

English Channel Eyes

Fantastic! Truly! How could you not love this phrase?

This has been a primer on youth slang. I hope you find your newly-acquired vocabulary useful in bridging the generational gap. If not, well…that’s just NS2, you gooby, jacked-up wimp dog.


When Sixth-Graders Write Soap Operas: West Enders Soap Saga

When I was eleven years old, I went to England over the summer to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins. While there, I rode on a train, visited Jane Austen’s grave, and had a comical misunderstanding with my baby cousin over the meaning of the word “pants.” Most importantly–for the purposes of this post, anyway–I watched telly. Specifically, this program:

EastEndersI didn’t really understand EastEnders as a child, and I’ve never since researched what it’s about. In the interest of not breaking my duck, I’m going to give you a summary based on what I’ve managed to pick up through cultural osmosis. EastEnders is a long-running drama about some people who live on London’s East End, which is the seedier part of the city. They have intense, edge-of-your-seat adventures involving murder, revenge, and nearly marrying chavs. There was a guy called Barry on it for a while who got in trouble for saying kids shouldn’t watch EastEnders.

Barry from EastEnders.

Barry from EastEnders.

That’s literally all I know. And it’s a lot more than I knew at the age of 11. Which is why my sixth-grade self’s decision to write my own version of EastEnders is so puzzling.

West Enders Soap SagaWell, I say my own version: in reality, there’s nothing in West Enders that hearkens back to any particular element in the original. I was way too dumb for that.

(And while we’re on the subject–which West End was I talking about, exactly? If it’s the West End of London, well, I believe that’s the theater district–but I never mention any theatrical goings-on. Also, the characters don’t seem to be British. They don’t even seem to live in a city, which tends to obviate the possibility of there being a culturally distinct “West End.” Oh well, I was only eleven.)

I recently dug this comic out of my mom’s storage closet, and let me tell you, it is something else. Actually, I don’t have to tell you–I can just show you! Continue reading