Decoding the subtext

So, I guess I’ve made it as a parent. Apparently, the other day my 4-year-old daughter asked her Nanna to help her send a text “just like my mom always does.”

That’s right – no time for coloring crayons, dollies or jumping rope, we’re fastforwarding straight ahead to the technical gadgetry. OK, so maybe I do partake in the occasional text, but 2BTH (to be totally honest), I’d say “always” is a stretch. I mean, I’ve barely broken the seal on my key pad. And those first few, fumbling texts were awkward at best; a bizarre, self-conscious, two-left-thumbs foray into the great electonic wilderness of teens and hipsters (of which I’m neither).

For starters, I had no clue that texting involved a whole other foreign language, a sort of cyber-code previously unknown to those of us who actually had to take typing classes in high school, on a real typewriter. Sure, excessive use of those White Out strips helped pass the time at the helm of the IBM Selectric easy enough, but I still wake up in a cold sweat over being berated for not properly lining up on “home row.” Suffice to say, it was the only class I ever came close to flunking (OK, there was that “music appreciation” class in college that was supposed to be easy. But I’m pretty sure the teacher had it in for me, which is really sad for a class of 300.)

Alas, and deplorable two-fingered hunt-and-peck skills be damned, I somehow managed to be drawn to careers that center around keyboards. So, I guess it’s no wonder that I soon became quite smitten with this modern-day, thumb-driven bastardization that surely has old Mrs. Skumatz rolling over in her grave (or close to it).

It’s not that I find my daily goings on so irresistibly tantalizing that I must “tweet” about them ad nauseum. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. See, I actually hate talking on the phone. That’s right, despite my bi-monthly long-winded tirades here, I am actually a fan of SNS (short and sweet). Call me a victim of the USA Today generation, but there’s something to be said for small, digestible, concise bits of information. No sense in dragging on a long, inane conversation when you can do it via a few quick, nonsensical letters: “Wht RU up2?” … “SOSO (same old, same old)” … “RO (right on) TTFN.”

Granted, I was not always so text savvy. In fact, the close proximity of the “back” button and the “send” button is a problem that plagues me to this day. And, I will admit, I still wrestle with trying to decipher if someone is “laughing out loud” or “lots of love”-ing, and can only hope to some day master punctuation so people won’t think I’m “ill” when I’m “I’ll.”

Anyway, downfall of Western civilization or not, I’m afraid when kids are learning to text before tying shoes (which I blame entirely on Crocs and Keens) and using “OMG” as part of everyday vernacular, it’s a brave new world. But just because you don’t know your “hand” (have a nice day) from your “btw” (please, even my mother knows this one) doesn’t mean you RAlzr. In fact, here are some of

the more interesting, obscure and useful texticons to get you started, as well as a few that I expect to be sweeping the nation soon. B4 U know it, people will be saying “WTF? That is way TMI.” Which brings me to the most important point, please use texting judiciously. You don’t want tb reported 2the AAAA (Acronym Abuse Association of America):

• SNET – “Snot-nosed Egotistical Teen-ager.” Personally have never used this one, but may come in handy some day.

• Wlumryme? – OK, so maybe the lowest of the low, but yes, apparently there is a way to text a marriage proposal. Good for long distance relationships or those extremely shy, romantic types

• 4COL- “For Crying Out Loud,” something tells me if June Cleaver texted, she would be getting a lot of mileage out of this one

• AAR – “At Any Rate.” Has nothing to do with retired persons, although they tend to be the only ones who use this

• BIBO – “Beer in, beer out.” Ah, life at its simplest common denominator

• ISH- “Insert sarcasm here,” for us cynical types when dealing with those literal types

• mlm- Use your imagination because the definition of this is far too risque for this paper. Meant to express great displeasure at someone or something.

• Oiahsb4iwdt – “Oops I accidentally hit ‘send’ before I was done texting.” Often occurs while t@sl, “texting at a stoplight.”

• OMD – “Oh my dog.” For those agnostics out there or people who don’t like to take the Lord’s name in vain, even if it is just his first initial.

• Ne14KFC – “Anyone for KFC.” Think of the hours you could save sitting in the wrong fast-food drive thru. Variations include “ne14bk” and “ne14theranch” and “ne147-11burritos.” Immensely popular among college students.

• PDOMA – “Pulled directly out of my ***.” So helpful in myriad situations.

• WWED? – “What would Elvis do?” Sadly, we will never know. But chances are if it includes shag carpet, animal prints and polyester one-piece suits, you’re on the right track.

• TMMS – “Tequila makes me smarter.” An oft-used late-night declaration.

• AFD – “Alcohol-free day.” An oft-used morning-after follow up to the previous night’s declaration.

• ROFLOL – “Rolling on floor, laughing out loud,” when something is really, really funny. Beware use of this with the “ish” inserted afterward, because then you’re really, really not funny at all.

• ROFLOLAICGU – “Rolling on floor laughing out loud and I can’t get up.” Time to put down the key pad and call “911.”

– Missy Votel