It wasn’t the mounds of snow that looked like the surface of a golf ball that was startling, it was a strange crackling sound that scared me to death while following the War Department down a Squaw Valley ski slope.
Snow flew from the backs of her skis as she turned between the twelve-inch moguls. I followed and when I bent to make a hard turn, the sound of cracking bones reached my ears.
“Good lord!” I pulled up, waiting for the first wave of pain to explode from possibly broken ribs resulting from a hard twist, or the ball on my hip snapping off, or a knee going out as ligaments tore.
The War Department stopped. “What happened?”
After holding my breath for a long moment, I straightened. “Well, I thought I broke something when I twisted. But nothing hurts.”
She waited as I moved several different ways to see what might flare to life.
I broke a rib several years ago when I stepped on a bottle and caught my balance by jerking upright. My doctor shook his head when he heard how it happened. “It comes with age.”
Had it happened again?
“Nothing. I guess I’m hearing things.” I pushed off and the broken bone crackle was again distinct…it was the empty plastic water bottle in my coat pocket.
The War Department laughed like a loon and we skied on down to the six-person lift. We settled in with four young people for the long ride to the summit and that’s when I realized I no longer understand the conversations between young people.
The best I can recall here is what two twenty-somethings said as we rode to the top of the mountain.
Twenty-Something One: Man, like, when we started down it was like, amazing snow and you know, I just pointed them down and Benny went like, ‘wooo,’ and he like, knows snow because he’s from Chicago, right?
Twenty-Something Two: I know like, it’s cold but wow, the breeze is like, you know.
Twenty-Something One: I know. It’s amazing, but Clark walked outside this morning and went, ‘Whoa,’ and I was like, yeah! We partying tonight?
Twenty-Something Two: Sure! Last night’s party was amazing, but it was outside and like, cold, and the heat things were like, barely working and you had to like, you know, get under them and I was literally freezing to death and I was going, brrr…so that’s when Clark saw a girl that looked amazing and he was interested in her and she like, waved at him, so she was like, come on over and get warm under this one…right?
Twenty-Something One: I know! She’s amazing, but he was more interested in the heater because it’s like, cold up here in the mountains…
It was unbelievable, so the War Department and I like sat there and listened without comment because we were basically, you know, like, not talking but listening, so I thought it was amazing that the millennials understood each other with a minimum of real words…sorry, I got into that that way of speaking…uh…writing.
So while working on this column I just heard a guy on television say, “It’s amazing for your health.”
Just what does that mean? We’ve lost the English language.
Here’s my millennial version of the aforementioned Crackling Water Bottle incident. It may be what you read ten years from now.
“Hey, that was like, you know, really awesomely scary.” I like, pulled up, waiting for the first amazing wave of pain to literally explode from, like, you know, broken ribs or the ball on my hip basically snapping off, or a knee like, going out as ligaments tore.
The War Department went like, “What happened?”
And I was like (holding out my hands), and she was like, “What?” and I went, “I just literally heard a bone break,” and I basically held my breath, but then when nothing happened I was like, “I thought I broke something when I twisted, but nothing hurts. That’s amazing!”
She went, “Right?”
“So I thought, had it happened again, because I’d like broken a rib when I twisted wrong one time and my amazing doctor was like, ‘You’re getting old, dude’ and I was like (shrugging), and he said like, ‘Be careful next time.’”
“Right? So I thought I’m basically hearing things,” so I pushed off and the sound literally happened again and I realized it was, like, the empty plastic water bottle in my coat pocket.
So we like, kept on skiing and it was amazing, so we like, skied on down to the lift and we saw the chair and she went, “Let’s go up again since you didn’t break like, a bone or something and I was like, “Right?”
So what happened to the English language?
I was thinking it’s like, changing, and I hate it as much as growing old and thinking things are breaking when they’re not…yet.