(Scene opens with a MIDDLE AGED MAN sitting on a park bench looking with a perplexed expression at a laptop computer. He notices a YOUNG WOMAN walking by.)
MAM: Pardon me, miss.
MAM: You look to be a rather young woman.
YW: Thank you.
MAM: Well, I didn’t mean that as a compliment, but you’re welcome. Actually, I was thinking you might be able to provide me some assistance, if you can spare me just a moment of your time.
YW: All right, what can I do for you?
MAM: A young woman of my acquaintance has sent me one of those electronic mail messages on my computer thingamajig, and I’m hoping you can help me make some sense of it, because she speaks in the latest jive.
MAM: You know, the latest hep-cat lingo.
YW: Hep-cat? Lingo?
MAM: She speaks in an unfamiliar young people’s argot.
YW: Oh, an argot. A specialized idiomatic vocabulary peculiar to a particular group or class of people. Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. So what does she say?
MAM: Well, she starts out by inviting me to “Netflix and chill.” What on earth could that possibly mean?
YW: Ooh, that sounds promising.
YW: Yes, she’s asking you over to watch something on Netflix, which is an on-line streaming service …
MAM: I’m familiar with the company, I just didn’t know it was a verb.
YW: … and she wants to “chill,” so you know what that means.
MAM: That’s a synonym for “relax,” I believe. As in, “chillin’ like a chili bean.”
YW: That’s not bad, actually.
MAM: Thanks. I remember overhearing a black man say that once.
YW: Wow, how cool is that?
MAM: Well, Netflixing and chilling sounds harmless enough, I must say, even if the gerund form of that noun really grates on my ears.
YW: Oh, but it’s more than that. An invitation to Netflix and chill has certain, you know, implications.
MAM: You mean like “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” implications?
YW: Maybe, depending on whatever the hell it is you’re talking about. It’s kind of like way back in the olden days when a would woman invite a man up for a drink.
MAM: Ah, good times. I’m a little worried, though, that in this next like she says she’s “Feelin’ the Bern.” Because she doesn’t say where she’s feeling it, and at my age I’d hate to catch anything.
YW: Don’t worry, that just means she’s an enthusiastic supporter of the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders. You have heard of him, haven’t you?
MAM: But of course. I do try to keep up on the latest political news. It’s an ingrained habit from back when I held out some hope about that stuff.
YW: So you know he’s leading the revolution that’s going to bring about perfect economic justice, and not only make those billionaires pay for their crimes but also my multi-cultural studies degree.
MAM: Yes, and that’s all well and good, I suppose, but then again, he is a pinko, you know.
MAM: You mean you hadn’t noticed?
YW: No, not at all. What’s a pinko? Is that some kind of gay thing?
MAM: Well, no, not necessarily. A pinko is anyone who might not be fully a Red, but he’s Red enough that he’s pink.
YW: Oh. And by “Red,” do you mean “red state”? Because Bernie’s from Vermont, so he’s certainly not one of those.
MAM: No, no, by “Red” I mean “Commie.”
MAM: You know, a communist.
YW: Oh. And that’s a bad thing?
MAM: Well, people used to think so, back in the good old days when a woman would just invite you up for a drink and you didn’t have to mess around with Netflixing and chilling and all these other damn neologisms. Oh, well, what difference, at this point, does it make? This young woman of my acquaintance also says she’s planning to “tweet” me soon, so I guess that sounds pretty promising as well.
YW: Sorry, but that’s not as promising at it sounds.
MAM: Oh, well. There’s also a bunch of pound sign this and Instagram that, and something about something called a “meme,” and bunch of initials like “YOLO” and “BLM” and it all looks like those indecipherable vanity license plates.
YW: You’ll get the hang of it.
MAM: I was just starting to get the hang of CB slang.
YW: Don’t worry about it. Just Netflix and chill, that’s my advice, if you know what I mean.
MAM: I’m not sure I do at all.
YW: I’m sure you don’t, but the best of luck to you.
MAM: You, too, and ten-four, good buddy.
MAM: Never mind.
— Bud Norman