The Language of Popular Culture
In the Clarkwoods Literary Universe, references to pop culture are often used by characters as a kind of verbal shorthand to get their points across. This language of popular culture is often used as a way of determining who is worth talking to and who is not. The notion that someone didn’t get a reference that was just laid down can often end a conversation, sometimes even before it has properly begun.
The language often morphs radically between generations, with even those older folks who do make an attempt to stay fluent struggling to keep up. This can be seen in an as-yet-unpublished exchange between Dr. Michaela Silver and her daughter’s roommate/occasional lover Billy Mills. Michaela is narrating, and “you” is her daughter:
“That’s it,” you said. You stood and you raged out of the room, stomping the not-quite-stomps of a woman in fuzzy socks.
From the other room, I heard Billy yelp in fright and call out “What’s the big idea?” He stumbled into the room where I still stood, clad only in his boxers, his laptop clutched to his chest and resting upon the ledge of his ample gut. A pair of headphones hung limply from the side of the computer as he asked me “What’s up, Doc?”
I sighed and gave him a smile. “Nothing much,” I said, “you wascally wabbit.”
“Wabbit?” he said, and I rolled my eyes as I shook my head.
“It’s exhausting,” I told him, “trying to remember which of you I’m supposed to talk to like I’m on an episode of Gilmore Girls, and which I’m not.”
“Well,” he said, taking a seat on the window sill, “I’m the dumb one, Doc.”
“How could I forget?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, closing his laptop. “I am the drummer.”
I told him that I’d heard the second drummer drowned, trying to make a reference he would get—their band had played that song once, hadn’t they?—but no. All he did is look confused and ask if that made him the third.
“I thought I was the only drummer,” he said.
- It’s all happening.
- Am I wrong?
- Is that your final answer?
- Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
- Resistance is futile.
- We’re not worthy.
- This is not ’Nam.
- In a row?
- I see [adjective] people.
- This aggression will not stand, man.
- The first rule of [noun] is you don’t talk about [repeat noun].
- Just keep swimming.
- There’s no crying in [noun].
- Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in [place] anymore.