The Old Coot is ‘SO’ bugged

SO, I really hate that the use of “SO” has multiplied and invaded our everyday conversation. I noticed the overuse of it in 2015, which means the trend started much sooner, since like most men, and all old coots, I’m not very observant. (New curtains? When did we get them? A YEAR AGO, DEAR!) 

I wrote about it in my typical old coot cranky fashion, focusing on its use by “intellectuals” when interviewed on TV or radio. They started every response with SO. Since then, I’ve watched it (heard it actually, since it’s a speaking phenomenon for the most part) become a standard start to a comment. Worse yet, I now find myself not only saying it, but also using it to start sentences when I write.

I don’t know how it transitioned from a “connection” word, as in “I ate more than I should have, SO now I have a stomach ache,” to an introductory word, “SO, I wonder if you can tell me a good place around here to get lunch?” 

The once dominant sentence starter, “The,” has been pushed aside. “The boy went to school early” is now, “So, the boy went to school early.” 

But, enough about SO. When I bring up the subject, all I get in reply, aside from a groan, is, “So what!” A valid response, something that many people say to me about my complaints. 

I think I’m on firmer ground with the overuse of “LIKE.” Grownups have been complaining about it for years, saying that today’s young people sound illiterate because they use it so often in conversation. 

I was peppered with it a few weeks ago, walking down from the summit of Mount Lafayette in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I was totally exhausted from hiking up the mountain, so I descended at a snail’s pace, afraid I might trip and do some serious damage to my 3/4-century old physical structure. I was followed by two, twenty-something young women and a slightly older young man. He asked questions and the “girls” replied with an excessive number of “LIKES.” It became painful. Each LIKE hit my ears LIKE a stab from an ice pick. 

“What are you going to do when you get home,” the guy asked. The first responder – “I hope my mom will be LIKE gone, so I can LIKE get these grubby clothes in the washer LIKE before she can LIKE yell at me for getting them LIKE so dirty. The conversation dribbling down on me from behind went on for the entire three-hour descent. 

I stopped to let them pass on numerous occasions, but each time they declined, saying they liked my slow rate of descent. I guess I should have said, “Why don’t you guys LIKE go ahead; you don’t LIKE want an old man slowing you LIKE down.” 

Had I, then they might have understood what I was saying and skipped on by, taking their LIKES with them. 

I wanted to confront them about their use of LIKE and give them some old coot advice: “You need to be aware that you say “LIKE” way too often and break the habit! I bet you don’t know you do it.” 

They recently graduated from college and were trying to get jobs, something I overheard them discuss as we came down the mountain. “Your habit will limit your job opportunities and chances for promotion.” Maybe I did say it! Probably so. I never know. It’s one of the challenges of being an old coot; the filter between our brain and mouth is defective and we sometimes are surprised when told what we’ve said. 

Anyhow, they did pass me at the bottom of the trail when it became flatter and widened out, giving me a dirty look as they went by. SO, LIKE that’s it. Not really anything LIKE monumental to LIKE complain about, just an old coot’s LIKE rant for the week. 

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