Sunday, April 29, 2018

“You’re welcome” or “No problem”—Which is the right response?

It finally happened. One of those signs of age which let you know, definitively, that you are losing it. 

When someone thanked me recently, instead of saying “You’re welcome,” as I have for 50 years, I slipped and said “No problem.” Like I was some kind of Millennial. Soon, no doubt, I will accidentally utter that other conversational abomination of the age, “No worries,” as if I have gone straight-up marsupial. 

That’s when you can just push me off a cliff. I only ask one favor—right before I go over the edge, let me clasp to my chest one of those people who responds to “Thank you” with “Thank YOU.” We’ll go together, and deserve it. 

Which reminds me of a joke. How many curmudgeons does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two. One to screw it in, and one to complain to him that light isn't as bright as it was when he was a kid, back when light knew some respect. 

One of these days we are going to find that the word "Please" has been replaced with "Wouldja already?" These days we are sloughing off social norms faster than a lobbyist sheds moral objections. 

And while I am on the subject of norms, may I propose we find a replacement for the celebratory word "Woo"? Yes, it meets the requirements for joyful exclamations—one syllable, heavy with vowels—but it has outlived its prime. At concerts and ball games, half-hearted "woos" outnumber full-throated ones 10 to 1. And let's face it, "Woohoo" has come to sound downright ironic. 

How about "Baa!" Somebody hits a home run, "Baa!" Great guitar solo, "Baa!" It brings to mind sheep, yes, but what's more appropriate for the political-bubble times we live in? "Baa" is a comfortable cry everybody learned in childhood, and thus easy to remember. Plus, like "Woo," it has the benefit of not meaning anything, but in a fresh way. 

Imagine the annual State of the Union address by the president, interrupted repeatedly by Congresspeople standing to clap and shout "Baa!" That I would watch.

Well, I have gotten the word from my newspaper editor that the budget has been tightened yet again, and this column will be a victim of the cuts. There is space for one more, next Sunday, a “best of” from my last 13 years. It promises to be a good one, so don’t you miss it. 

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