“Awesome.” says Miss Pane (the moniker I use privately is Miss Propane and you’ll see why soon enough), every time she is offered a bagel (or even an old biscuit) or almost anything else that comes in on a coffee cart. She is Generation Z. Forcing his voice down several registers so he can project himself as manly , unflappable and mean, boss Reggie Ridgeley eyes her scrumptiously, and in bass tones pronounces ,”Cool..” He is Generation X (or would have been ten years ago)...
I don’t know if it’s the spoken word or the spokeners, but the utterance I most detest, besides ‘cool.,’ is ‘Awesome.’ Both semantic artifices are intended to convey strength, power, and Heathcliffian handsomeness as qualities of character in any user, male or female. Nowadays when I hear ‘Awesome,’ I see it capitalized in my mind’s eye. This is because ‘Awesome’ in current usages, expresses in a one word simple declarative adjective sentence a description of some item of behavior or clothing or automotive capability or some other triviality that has absolutely no possibility of awesomeness whatsoever. An exclamation mark is not needed to enhance the sheer excitement of the word, “Awesome,” even spoken quietly, is quite enough.
In fact, in the most common occurrences, the word, Awesome, implies an irony that the thing under notice should be so rendered. But irony is wasted on Generation Z: it’s not Awesome. And, even though I hear the word all the time, I have a difficult time remembering exactly to what object or activity ‘Awesome’ was applied.
So when Mavis Lamb, the cat, lugs in a deceased and stinky rodent of a size that would mark it as an animal of station is it ghastly? Portentous? Horrible? Awful? Is it Awesome? No way, Jose. Yes, those former adjectives are synonyms of awesome. But not ‘Awesome.’ Generations Z has taken the awful out of Awesome
Then there was the morning I almost splash (accidentally, of course) my refilled coffee cup onto Agnes’s (my wife) eggs benedict, but instead I manage to dump it into the. empty crystal ambrosia tureen ... Impressive? Noble? Awe-inspiring? Not really, except to Agnes.... But almost everyone in Generation X, like my daughter, Bunnicula, who witnessed this event at the breakfast table might, like her, breathily sigh, “Awesome.”
We can now come to a third Awesome moment, if anyone is still here. My bridge partner, Dave Derringer, tells me he is taking a world cruise. Is this endeavor sublime? Majestic? Redoubtable? Undoubtedly, he will encounter scenics of that order, but a cruise is leisure time stuff, not quite the moving and imposing stretch that an awesome effort must affect. But maybe even I could get away with it and intone, “Awesome.” Whoops! Don’t I really mean cool? Or does it matter?