On Monday I was told that my poll numbers have been slipping among young girls. This may seem like no big deal when you consider that no one under 18 can vote — that is, unless we’re talking about the vote to decide whether Coke or Pepsi tastes better. Sadly, the electoral process couldn’t prevent the Cola Wars from breaking out in the mid-’80s, or our children from being drafted to fight them. How many young people have been caught in the cavity-causing crossfire? Sometimes I fear these wars will rage on long after my generation, otherwise known as the greatest generation (okay, the largest generation), has moved on to the big soda fountain in the sky.

Getting back to my original point, one day every girl under the age of 18 will be 18. Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’, fellas?

Probably not, because I’m thinking about how to ensure my political future, whereas you’re thinking about sex. Is that all you people think about? It’s apparently all you think about me thinking about. Well, stop thinking! If your thoughts were worth anything, do you think you’d still be stuck here in Bootleg City?

Sorry … that wasn’t a very nice thing to say, especially after what I said last week about being positive. And that’s all I was trying to do when I sent out individual “evites” to every girl in Bootleg City between the ages of 13 and 17 — I had no trouble tracking down all of their e-mail addresses on Facebook — inviting them over to my duplex for some private polling of my own. I mean, what’s more positive than a frank political discussion between one consenting adult and one …

Okay, I see your point. I also see all the “Burn in Hell!” and “Impeach Now!” and “We’re So Disappointed! Love, Mom and Dad” signs in front of City Hall. (That burning effigy is taller than me, by the way, so thanks for the accidental compliment.)

To make it up to all the young girls in Bootleg City, I’m offering a Kelly Clarkson concert, courtesy of rugged mountain man Matthew Boles, from October 6, 2009, at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. You may recall that she was the first winner of American Idol, back in … 2002?!

Wait, does that mean young girls no longer like her? Is she in the Musical Flavor of the Month Cutout Bin next to Jennifer Lopez? (No, young girls, I don’t have time to explain what a cutout bin is.) Or did Clarkson clear that hurdle a few years ago and cement her popularity with older, less fickle audiences? Quick, someone tell me! This burning effigy outside my window is tall, but that just means it has more room for white-hot flames!

While you’re gathering quotations from Wikipedia and your niece’s Twitter account, here’s Clarkson’s set list from 10/6/09:

All I Ever Wanted
Miss Independent
I Do Not Hook Up
That I Would Be Good/Use Somebody
If I Can’t Have You
Never Again
Walking After Midnight
Behind These Hazel Eyes
I Want You
[band introductions]
Because of You
Walk Away
Since U Been Gone
Already Gone
7 Nation Army
My Life Would Suck Without You

Is it just me, or do words like “suck” stick out like a sore thumb in song titles and lyrics? On the opposite end of the spectrum, are you young girls out there still wondering what a cutout bin is?

It’s official — I’m old.

But even though verbs like “suck” and sentimental expressions along the lines of “Baby, you can text me anytime” will always sound odd to my ears when I listen to music, there was probably someone just like me a hundred years ago who thought to himself, “Golly! That crooner onstage who’s warbling the heartwarming ditty ‘Hello! Ma Baby’ just exclaimed, ‘Oh, baby, telephone / And tell me I’m your own.’ How queer! Now for another pint of ale, which cures all ills, even if it does make me drowsy and even more intolerant of the Irish.”

“Suck” is rare in song titles, but there are plenty of words in everyday life that are overused. Last fall a poll conducted by Marist College revealed that 47 percent of Americans think the word “whatever” is “most annoying in conversation.” Meanwhile, 53 percent of the young girls I polled via Google Buzz think “annoying” is annoying.

Just kidding, angry fathers of Bootleg City, but the Marist College poll did find that 25 percent of Americans don’t like the phrase “you know,” followed by “it is what it is” (11 percent), “anyway” (7 percent), and “at the end of the day” (2 percent). I’d like to add a few more to the list:

• “Let’s face it …” (You face it!)
• “Really?” (Example: “You really think that expression hasn’t run its course yet? Really?”)
• “It was a perfect storm.” (I saw this expression used to describe a casino fire that quickly got out of control due to the building’s sprinkler system having been shut off earlier in the day during construction. How was it a “storm” if there was no water?)

I’m also outlawing the following adjectives in Bootleg City, at least until I accidentally use one and then have to law them back in:

• creepy
• awkward
• relatable
• organic
• surreal

Airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger described his January 15, 2009, emergency landing of a US Airways jet in the Hudson River as “surreal.” Really, Sully? You couldn’t come up with a more relatable word than that old cliché? Really? Then again, when I saw a photo of his plane slowly sinking as it floated downriver, I did think to myself, “Awkward! And definitely not what I’d call organic.”

Any words or phrases or expressions you’d like to add to the list? Angry fathers, please don’t dominate the comments section below with remarks like “I’LL KILL YOU WITH MY BARE HANDS!” because if you repeat it enough times it’ll become an overused expression, and let’s face it, you don’t want to be on that list.

About the Author

Robert Cass

Robert Cass lives in Chicago. For Popdose he's written under the Sugar Water, Bootleg City, and Box Office Flashback banners and collaborated on the series 'Face Time with Jeff Giles and Mike Heyliger.

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