Opinion Columns & Blogs

It would be brilliant to give ‘awesome’ a rest

Columnist Bill Hall
Columnist Bill Hall

I was watching an Australian entertainer on YouTube the other night when I noticed that the Aussie crowd was being spared the usual high-pitched whooping noises that some shallow American spectators foist on our audiences.

Apparently Australians are better at keeping their whoopers under control. There’s something a little creepy about hearing members of an audience whooping in falsetto.

Oh, I admit, when I was 12, I almost drove my mother crazy with my frog, duck and chicken sounds. Then I grew up – for the most part.

I concede that the decent limit for a person to show off while sitting in an audience is no more than 12. But what’s going on when middle-aged members of an audience start whooping on into their 40s and 50s?

“Whooping” is about as close as I can come to spelling a word that isn’t really a word. Whooping is a sound used by 38-year-old teenagers to signal their presence in the audience. You may have heard the self-appointed invaders of the cheap seats whooping whenever the true star of the evening finishes a song or a joke.

It used to be that the normal reaction of an audience was a spontaneous and unpretentious round of applause or laughter. Now whoopers routinely take over, not to reward the entertainer for an enjoyable show but because they hunger for their own personal attention. They forget there is a professional person present with a song and a brain who is capable of entertaining an audience all by himself.

For future reference, the high pitched sound “whoop” is essentially unpronounceable, but it means “Look at me, everybody!”

Whooping patrons at a concert or a play are easy to recognize. They have a verbal marker. Their entire vocabulary includes only one adjective – awesome. The play was awesome. The concert was awesome. Your pizza was awesome. Your father’s large ears are awesome.

When you are stuck in that rut and I ask what is awesome, you will probably say that awesome is awesome. That’s all you’ve got. You don’t know any other descriptive words. Awesome is the best you can do.

Why would anyone in his right mind not want to explore his language and find at least one more word to give awesome a breather?

How about fantastic or incredible or amazing or tremendous or excellent or terrific or superb? At the very least invent a new excessive word – whoopasetic, for instance, or magnificat or Godlike.

And if that doesn’t suit you, you might try the British version of awesome – “brilliant.” Crazy people in England are beating “brilliant” to death. If your vocabulary won’t stretch any farther than that, at least give the rest of humanity a blessed whoop or two.

Bear in mind that great wordsmiths like Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump rarely whoop.

While you’re at it, try for other ways of standing out in the crowd without enlarging your vocabulary. For instance, if you are a 57-year-old who wears his baseball cap on backwards like the other kiddies, you need a change. Turn the bill of the cap to the front of your face. Or wear that cap with the bill pointed sideways. Be original.

In that same vein, if almost everyone else in humanity is wearing tattoos, then come up with something more original – something like hiring a plastic surgeon to move your nose to the back of your head (where the bill of your baseball cap used to be).

And as long as we’re trying to freshen your drab persona, get one last tattoo. Put it on your forehead where you can be blatantly labeled “The Awesome Whooper!”

Contact Bill Hall at wilberth@cableone.net or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.