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Marissa Lingen

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Not so much the cat's pajamas, daddy-o. [Nov. 9th, 2010|03:19 pm]
Marissa Lingen

Dear everyone older than me,

When you are writing a contemporary teen narrator, please stop having them talk about "going steady" and "necking."

It's not that today's teens don't do these things. It's that they don't call them that. With their crazy teen lingo. And if you hear them do so when they're talking to you, quite often they are trying to translate for your benefit.

My cousin A was visiting when I was telling my mother that my young friend B now has a boyfriend. "And he gave her his [activity] sweatshirt, so apparently that's a thing," I said. "Oh yah, that's a thing," said A. "It's like when you were in high school and your boyfriend would give you his letter jacket." I had to explain to the dear child that I was not of that generation in the slightest. While one of the unsuitable boys I dated in high school did, in fact, have a letter jacket, if I wanted to wear one, we both felt I could certainly earn my own.

So. Returning to the point. "Going steady." "Necking." Please. Stop.


From: mmerriam
2010-11-09 09:33 pm (UTC)
I figure if I need teenager slang, I know a whole mess of teenagers.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-09 10:39 pm (UTC)
Yes. Just so.
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[User Picture]From: shana
2010-11-09 09:43 pm (UTC)
Doesn't necking mean you're going out with a vampire?
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[User Picture]From: marydell
2010-11-09 09:45 pm (UTC)
I think it's assumed these days that all dating involves vampires.
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[User Picture]From: marydell
2010-11-09 09:44 pm (UTC)
Well I heard they got pinned! I was hopin' they would!
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[User Picture]From: cyranocyrano
2010-11-09 09:46 pm (UTC)
So these days, it's not 'going steady' and 'necking', it's 'a thing' and 'doing it'?
(Back in *my* day it was 'courting' and 'canoodling' because we liked the alliteration.)
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[User Picture]From: moiread
2010-11-10 01:03 am (UTC)
It's "dating" or "together", and "making out" or "fooling around". (Where "making out" is mostly kissing in a horizontal position, and "fooling around" implies the same but with more heavy petting and other things that aren't quite PiV sex.) "Doing it" is specifically sex, and frequently "hooking up" is too, unless it's "hooking up with some friends", in which case you just mean meeting up with them.

Edited at 2010-11-10 01:04 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: hobbitbabe
2010-11-09 10:14 pm (UTC)
In my day, nobody[*] "dated", either as "dating around" or as some descriptor of ongoing relationship. You hung out with a crowd and then one person, until after a while you were "going with" or "going out with" or "going around together". We necked a lot. Some people had sex. I put my junior athletic letter on my school cardigan, but that was a weird retro Happy-Days thing to do. (I would have earned a senior letter if we had had girls' hockey, but as it was I just barely got enough points in five years for the junior letter).

Everyone's parents tried to discourage them from exclusive relationships, saying "In my day, we dated around and had more fun." Nobody liked to ask how far they went in those non-exclusive relationships in our parents' day, but we all thought that was the main difference.

Nowadays, it seems like people make out. Also, they hook up. That might mean getting together with someone you weren't already involved with and making out with him or her, or it might mean getting together with someone you weren't previously involved with and having sex. One can't assume that someone who admits to hooking up is having sex.

[*] Having compared notes recently with people who grew up not too far away and near the same time (started university in 1979), I acknowledge that the avoidance of the word "dating" might be very localised.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-09 10:36 pm (UTC)
People do, in fact, make out today! And yes, they hook up, and yes, hooking up doesn't mean as much as it might, except when it does. It's all very confusing. But hooking up doesn't mean getting in touch with someone in the sense of opening a line of communication with a platonic friend. I find myself amused and appalled when people somewhat older than me say, "Oh, I'll be in town from x-date to y-date, we should hook up then!" I know what they mean, but my gut-level reaction is, "ACK!"
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[User Picture]From: juliansinger
2010-11-09 10:27 pm (UTC)
So what's the term lately for "going steady," anyway?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-09 10:38 pm (UTC)
May vary regionally. I've heard my young friends say "going out with" or "seeing" or "dating." No steadiness involved, however.
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[User Picture]From: chinders
2010-11-09 11:07 pm (UTC)
Wow, really?

I guess I have seen books that use phrases like that, but I mostly just assume that they're older books. But now that I think about it, that's not necessarily the case- I usually place books based on the language and social context they seem to be operating in, and only very recently started actually date-checking my reading.

So now I am questioning the actual writing dates of books I read as a kid...
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-10 01:58 am (UTC)
The story that had a teenager talking this way also had him picked on for being of Middle Eastern descent (which could be a number of years) and being called "Osama." Which was pretty darn specific.
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[User Picture]From: dd_b
2010-11-09 11:39 pm (UTC)
I don't actually recall people saying " going steady" in the 70s, where I wa s either
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[User Picture]From: pixelfish
2010-11-10 12:12 am (UTC)
See also, petting.

(I was so confused by Petting and Necking for the longest time. Seriously, WTF? Teen slang confused me even before I was a teen.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-10 01:59 am (UTC)
I have only seen "petting" in the context of evangelical teenage culture T-shirts saying, "Pet your dog, not your date." Which would be more hip if anybody talked about petting their date in the first place.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2010-11-10 03:57 am (UTC)
When I was in high school the trend was to trade Swatch watches. Everyone always looks at me funny when I saw that one... I suspect it may have been regional.
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[User Picture]From: reveritas
2010-11-10 08:57 am (UTC)
OK, Mris. Now I want to hear about your high school dating experiences.

With me, "a thing" was to borrow each other's heavy metal band t-shirts.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-10 12:56 pm (UTC)
Not in high school, but I may have borrowed my first college boyfriend's surplus army shirt-jacket kind of a lot in the months we were dating.

He was about 6'3" and not a narrow-shouldered young man, so you can picture the complete look on me with either a fitted mid-90s dark colored T or else a baggy one with geeky stuff on it. And jeans and boots. Of course.

Edited at 2010-11-10 12:56 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: cakmpls
2010-11-10 03:17 pm (UTC)
My 20-year-old daughter's friends consider me to have been a "player" because I dated two guys at a time in my single days, and to be a "cougar" now because J is 7 years younger than I.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-10 04:07 pm (UTC)
Hee. I hope J. is suitably amused at being cast in the role of your boy-toy at this point in your lives together.
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[User Picture]From: jamiam
2010-11-11 06:15 pm (UTC)
Where are the editors in all this? Isn't it their job to notice this and stop it before it gets out the gate?
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-11-11 06:18 pm (UTC)
I think the problem with a short story collection is that the short story has already been published in another form, so the editor of the collection is kind of stuck. Clearly you can correct tyops, but do you want to rewrite a story that's already appeared? That's much iffier.

Which doesn't explain the first editor, necessarily. But.

Also, when you have an established author, there's a lot more room for the author to stet things like that, things they maybe should listen to an editor on. Do you really want to get Big Name Award-Winning Author X upset with you and have them pull the story you solicited over one or two usages like that? So maybe you make the suggestion but you don't push it.

That's only my theory; I have never been Big Name Award-Winning Author X in this equation.
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[User Picture]From: cissa
2010-11-15 01:49 am (UTC)
I haven't reread any of the teen lit books I enjoyed as a teen- if "enjoyed" is the proper term"- in 40 or so years. Still: they were outdated THEN, and I tremble to think what today's teens would think of them; akin to Jane Austen (but less well-written), almost certainly.
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