A friendly staff member showed us to our table and as we settled down to look at the menu, our early twenty-something waiter came by.
“Hi, can I get you anything to drink to start?”
“We’ll all have coffee,” my brother Bruce said, “and my younger brother here will have some water. He’ll have his coffee after, because he told us the other day that having coffee before a meal other than breakfasts is SO American.”
“Awesome,” said our waiter. ”I’ll be right back.”
By the time their coffee and my water came, we were ready to order.
“So, can I take your order now?
“Sure,” said Bruce. “I’ll have the Fat-free Triple-O Leanburger with lettuce and tomato, no mayo, please.”
“Awesome. And for you, Sir?”
“I’ll have the baked potato,” I said.
And so it went. For every statement resulting in the slightest need for a response, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Awesome.”
By the time he was so awesomely fetching our bill I started to imagine what tired, overused, meaningless bit of oral fluff he would be coming out with had we been suddenly slung back to the late sixties, when the land upon which the clean, bright White Spot stood - and in which we were now able to enjoy such an awesome lunch - would still for another 20 years be nothing more than a poorly drained swamp.
“Hi, can I take your order?”
“I’ll have the Triple-O Fatburger with extra cheese, bacon and mayonnaise and a side order fries with gravy, please.”
“Groovy, man! And for you, ma’am?”
The thing is, I’d always thought Awesome was already passé, flung onto the heap along with the rest of the Neats, the Keens, the Cools, the Far-out-solid-right-on Hippie-dippie Weatherman stuff that so dates the user, even the worst offender avoids the aforementioned and please-just-let-it-stay-dead forever Groovy.
Apparently not. You have to plunge right back into your home country to find out what people are talking about and how they’re saying it, so that’s what I did. I vowed from then on to keep my ears open and listen to every waiter, bank teller, kiosk vendor, fast-food order-taker and clerk, taking note of every Awesome I heard in the short two weeks I’d be there. I thought it might be fun to do a final tally, plotting the utterances onto an Awesomes per Hour chart.
But it was like going on a car ride as a kid back in the day before backseat Blu-Ray players, Playstations and Smartphones, when passing the time meant counting the cars coming the other direction. After a few hundred or so, you just got tired of it.