i’ll play the part of preservationist presently, by putting in print a pair of pwords that never quite made the cut as far as slang is concerned.
i came to this while thinking about Harry Potter, and how the characters use the word “wicked” as slang for “good” or “amazing”, and i wondered whether more “sensitive” readers were further convinced the stories were evil after misinterpreting that word. Then i reached back with my brain to the summer of ’83, where two slang words were in steady use by the kids at school, but they never made the leap from playground pidgin to pop culture prattle.
They are: “dece” and “ex.”
Now “dece,” you may or may not have guessed, is short for “decent.” It’s used exactly as you picture it being used; for example, picture one six-year-old boy introducing another six-year-old boy to the Evil Knieval Stunt Set. It would not be out of place for the second six-year-old boy to exclaim “DECE!” with all due enthusiasm.
“Ex,” which is short for “excellent,” is used in much the same way, though it’s usually prefaced with a brief secondary utterance such as “whoa” or “aww.” For example, picture one six-year-old boy demonstrating to another six-year-old boy how far the model A-Team van goes when you send it off the tiny dirt mound (AKA “BMX jump”) in the park. The second six-year-old boy can be heard to remark “aww … EX!!”
To me, these words have a certain undiscovered charm absent in the later, more base exclamations hailing from the Californian surf/skate shift: “rad,” “tubular,” “gnarly,” etc. Those words are sell-outs. They’re the late 80’s versions of “izzle” – as soon as you started hearing them in Sears commercials, you knew it was time to find new slang.
And there sit pristine, virgin dece and ex. Perhaps one day they’ll make a comeback? Or maybe they’re still in use by today’s six-year-olds, and have never been discovered by pop culture cool hunters for incorporation into soft drink ads? If that’s the case, I hope they stay hidden. Run, dece and ex – run far away. Run deep into the folds of untouchable childhood, behind that incomprehensible generational barrier that adults cannot penetrate. i want to keep you as an obscure, distant memory, and i don’t want to hear you again.