The Language of Twenty-Somethings


We helped Bootie Pepper move into her townhouse for her senior year of college. We’re so happy for her and her three roommates as they venture into their last year. Her current bedroom is larger than the dorm she shared with a roommate both freshman and sophomore years. Not surprisingly, The Pitcher was there to help, carrying his end of her sofa with one hand as they walked up a flight of stairs, turned a corner and levered it over a railing. He needed a nap after that!

Dalton on bed

Since Bootie Pepper goes to a small Lutheran college in Minnesota, it’s not uncommon to find painted canvasses with inspirational sayings on them that decorate their walls like, “It is well with my soul” or “Be you bravely.” Bootie Pepper paints those canvasses herself, so she has plenty, trust me.

Mae's sayings

However, my favorite saying in her decorated space sits atop her “bar area.” It says, “no regrets.” It’s accented by a wall hanging in the shape of Wisconsin with bottle caps pressed into it. Not soda bottle caps, my friends. I’m so proud—especially since she’s a first-born-overachiever-rule-follower. It’s entertaining for me to see she has a sense of humor and knows how to have fun.

Liz Flags

Bootie Pepper’s friend, The Dancer, is tolerating the Wisconsin flag since she’s from Minnesota.


As I reflect on our summer together—Bootie Pepper lived with us and worked at a financial firm in our city—one of the characteristics that stands out most in my mind is the language she and her friends use.

The language of twenty-somethings closely tracks their texting language. There are lots of one-word answers, initials and emojis to describe situations and feelings.

For example, while watching the news, I might say that Steve Bannon is an ugly fascist. Her response would be, “Valid.” It’s shorthand for: “That’s a valid observation,” conveying agreement.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said, “Why can’t we just take out Kim Jong-Un in a surgical strike that doesn’t kill millions of people?” To which she replied, “Savage.” I think she meant: “Bloody brilliant idea.”

If I point out that someone said something totally stupid that was off topic and missed the entire point of the conversation by a mile, her reply is: “So close,” while holding up her thumb and forefinger to indicate about an inch of space. This phrase is to be said with sarcasm, Sheldon. As in when Sarah Palin was asked about her stance on foreign policy, she replied that she could see Russia from her front porch. So close.

When we played on the lake this summer, if I had a particularly good run skiing, Bootie Pepper would say: “Mom, your wake boarding game is strong today.”

If everyone was starved while we were out boating, and I came up with some killer snacks, Bootie Pepper would say: “Mom comin’ in clutch with the food!” That one might be my favorite—comin’ in clutch—because it makes me feel like a heroic mom.

There is, of course, the commonly used word, “solid.” This is uttered in a genuine fashion when I nail something—like an on-point blog post. However, it can also be used with heavy sarcasm, drawing out the second syllable to indicate a complete and utter fail—like Melania Trump wearing spikes when visiting the Houston flood. “Soliiiiid.” We could also say, “killin’ it” or “slayin’ it” for that footwear choice.

Do you know someone who adopts a little attitude when drinking? This is called: “drinkatude.” Funny, we used to call that person a dumb ass.

How about “watching Netflix?” (Did you know that “watch Netflix and chill” means to have sex?) If you’re serious about just watching Netflix, however, then you say: “Come over and watch the Flix of Net.”

Speaking of watching TV, Bootie Pepper’s generation has watched every single episode of Friends, and they quote lines from it regularly. When we decided to go to London, the first words out of her mouth were: “London, baby.” This was apparently one of Joey’s lines.

We were talking about something scientific and Bootie said, “Well, Ross Geller would know that.” I replied, “You know that Ross is a fictional character in a TV series, right?”

Seriously, Friends lines are a central point of reference for Bootie Pepper and her friends.

Another favorite of mine is how they insert symbols into their spoken words, especially verbalizing “slash.” Like: “That’s really funny-slash-stupid.”

There is a taboo verbalization of texting they can’t stand, however: Speaking the initials of texting. One must never say “OMG” or “LOL.” Those are only meant to be typed. However, it is permissible to say, “dancing salsa lady” or “smiling pile of poo” to get your point across. I’m pretty sure we all can envision those emojis.

While Bootie Pepper is away at school this year, my husband and I will lapse into our old, reliable dialogue that lacks clever one-liners or one-word answers. Here’s an example from this summer. We were standing a few feet from each other in the kitchen.

I eyed some fresh peaches in a bowl and said, “Those peaches look good. I might have to eat one today.”

He replied, “I’m saving the frozen pizzas for dinner.”

So close. So close.

3 thoughts

  1. Glad she got settled in and I am sure it is so much better than a dorm👍🏻
    Love the language and lucky I don’t have to figure out the meanings 😊
    Keep it up Alexi and you will be speaking it soon💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And our generation has seen every episode of Seinfeld and uses quotes from it! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    Jen’s mom


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