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"think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people."
~william butler yeats
let’s face it.
i’ve always been cool.

i mean, look at me. three years old and already rocking lacoste?
even if the only reason i liked it was because of the neat alligator, the fact that i was trendy enough to wear the double bracelet at such an early age speaks highly of my coolness.

regardless of being an awesome toddler, once i stepped off of the plane into california twenty three years later--i realized that my level of hipness was not exactly up to par with 90210 standards.

people always say that living out here will change you. i don’t think that i’ve changed in any way in the past nine months except for the fact that i’m a little more comfortable with the way that i dress. it took twenty five years, a best friend who always reminded me that “there’s no right way to wear something”, and seeing the locals in even more ridiculous outfits than i could have ever dreamed up--to realize that it’s okay to wear something a little off-the-wall. you’re not going to see me in lady gaga’s meat dress anytime soon, but i am loving some off-the-shoulder shirts, scarves, and sunglasses lately.

oh wait.
that's not me.

not me either.

every region in america has their own style of language. you won’t hear many people north of the mason dixon line using the word “y’all” and you definitely won’t hear someone in south carolina drop the word “wicked” in an everyday conversation.
i always knew that california was known for its laid back, surfer-like way of life, but it wasn’t until moving to hollywood that i discovered that the language here is just as important as the lifestyle. on the plus side, there are two popular west coast words that i somehow picked up much earlier in life. at some point in my teenage years--most likely while watching MTV--i heard the words “rad” and “stoked.” for whatever reason, they stuck with me and became a part of my everyday language. although “rad” and “y’all” don’t really belong in a sentence together, i was glad to already have some california-isms prepared when i arrived in los angeles.

proud of my fancy (yet limited) west coast vernacular, i immediately jumped into conversations with every local i could find. it was then that i realized, i had no idea what the hell anybody was saying.
nine months later, 
and this is what i have learned:


urban dictionary has a few ways of defining this slang word, but i have to admit--number two is without a doubt the funniest:

2. a f--king lame way to say totally.

although shortening the word totally to “totes” may seem a little ridiculous, it’s as common of a word out here as “m’am” is in the south. the best part of using this word is that it already sounds so absurdly hip--it’s necessary for the rest of the sentence to follow the pattern.

regular sentence: it’s your birthday saturday? we should totally get together for dinner!
california sentence: birthday saturday? omg. we should totes round up a group for sushi.


i have to admit, this is definitely up there with my favorites. cray-cray is the kind of word that you only use with your friends under special circumstances, and that you wouldn’t dare use in a conversation with your grandmother.

regular sentence: i had to move out of my apartment, my neighbors were crazy.
california sentence: the people living in my hood were legitimately cray-cray.


i first came about this word--well, when i was four and decided that i wanted something else in my cheerios besides milk. however, the west coast version of this word was introduced to me by my neighbor keltie.

although she was originally from canada and then lived in new york, she spoke like a true californian. i’ll never forget the very first time i walked into her apartment (which i subleased for three months) and asked her why she was going out of town. i later found out that she wasn’t traveling at all--but was a contestant on the bachelor. however, in that moment, these were the words that she spoke to me, “well, i’ll be traveling around europe for a while. it should only be about three months--this trip is kind of bananas.”

i quickly wiped the blank stare off of my face as i tried to decipher how fruit had anything to do with this conversation. and then i changed the subject. after putting a deposit down on an empty apartment in the building--a few months later, my other neighbor stella stuck her head into my empty living room.

“wow. you really need some furniture. this place is bananas.”

i was finally beginning to catch on.

and i immediately spread the word.

regular sentence: i’m so overwhelmed with work and everything that’s going on in my life right now.
california sentence: that beyonce tour that i just got finished working with was bananas.


this word may be a little newer to the human language, but the concept certainly isn’t. i have vivid memories of going to miss muffet’s frozen yogurt in north raleigh with my family at a very early age. this soft, much creamier version of ice cream has been around forever, but it’s just now starting to become a craze. although frozen yogurt places are popping up all over the country, the term “fro-yo” seems to be a recent trend. although it’s simply a shortened version of its original self, it’s a common california word and was best described by my friend loryn the other day.

our friend john from new york: “fro-yo? what the hell is fro-yo?”
loryn: “it’s frozen yogurt.”
john: “well why don’t you just SAY frozen yogurt?”
loryn: “because we don’t have time for all those other syllables!”

regular sentence: we should get some frozen yogurt after dinner.
california sentence: did you see that fro-yo place that just popped up down the street from that other fro-yo place?
enough said.


this is a word i’ve never felt cool enough to use. maybe because for as long as i can remember, i’ve felt that it was a west coast word that just wouldn’t be appropriate coming out of my mouth. i mean, if i heard someone in los angeles use the phrase “fit as a fiddle” or “lord a’mercy!” i’d tell them to stick to their own jargon.

regular sentence: those fries were so good.
california sentence: that in-n-out burger today was hella good.


once again, i’m going to refer to urban dictionary for this one because they explain it so damn accurately.

lamesauce: a description of how hard something incredibly sucks.

as usual, this is just a funny california way of making an already cool word even cooler. for me, i think i’ll stick to the original--but don’t be surprised if you hear me come up with a different variation of it. 
i like to be differentsauce.

regular sentence: that dress was so lame.
california sentence: her romper was totes lamesauce.

seeing as how i’m not even a full year into living here, i’m sure i have many more ridiculous words to learn and share with you. i feel like everyday i add something new to my vocabulary, whether it’s just learning the local words for describing locations:

hollywood: h-wood
west hollywood: weho
referring to studio city when you live in hollywood: over the hill or just on the other side of the mountain
santa monica or culver city: the west side

...or shortening everyday words to make my life a little easier. now that i realize that this west coast laid-back lifestyle basically just means that you’re allowed to be lazy and use less letters in your words, i guess i’ll do my best to fit in here.



Jeffrey Slater said...

OMG that was totes rad dude. Like, I mean, OMG.

Rebecca said...

We definitely do say "hella" quite a bit. But it's more of a Northern California/SF Bay Area thing. A lot of people in LA get mad if you say it. I learned from experience =)