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Squid #471
(published January 28, 2010)
Ask the Giant Squid: Cracking the Code of the Teenager
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Itz winter an it kindda suks cuz itz alwayz cold now i hav2 where sokks !!!


Dear Unsigned,

I confess that your letter, more than any missive or correspondence that has ever reached me afore, confused me terribly. As is the manner of the aging Baby Boomer, I held the letter (sheathed in plastic to protect it from my waters) at varying distances from my face, moving it closer and further, tilting it slightly. I squinted at the letters, willing them to make sense—though it should be noted that mine eyes are optically perfectemundo, dear readers, and so squinting is merely for show. My eyes did not fail me. The difficulty in reading your letter did not lie in mine eye.

Next I wondered if your letter might perhaps be written in a language other than the President's Properly Received English. While though I am fluent in the Español and the en Francais, the po-Russki yazik and the dervish tongues of the middle seas, your words were alien to me. I could no more wrest meaning from them than I could squeeze juice from a chair. The Internet—the greatest tool man has ever devised—was similarly no help. Every translation engine spit forth gibberish when presented with your, well, gibberish, my dear unsigned petitioner. Was it Swahili? No. Perhaps Esperanto? Not today. Could it be Finnish? It could not. Maybe Portuguese? Again, no.

Thirdly, your message may be a cipher. I regarded it as such for long hours. To aid in my code-breaking skills I watched—yet again—that cinematic masterpiece of Thomas Hanks, The Da Vinci Code. I drove my entire staff to action with the grandest of force. Jarwaun brought me the roll of a tube of the toiletting papers and I wound your message around it, suspecting a classic Caesar cipher. Molly ran the text through substitution engines, but no answer was forthcoming. After days of labor, my sweat-soaked assistant Rob asked what this was all about. I showed him the message—I had been doling it out in tiny parts, encrypted, in case the message was not meant for the lackwitted eyes of my jackal-jawed buffoon employees—and he cursed and swore and kicked the glass of my tankery.

"Shit, Lord A." Rob's eyes bulged from his head. I worried his internal pressure gradient had slipped again. "This is why you made us work all that O.T.?" Rob gripped his hair with hands and yanked it away from his body, as if he were impersonating a sea urchin (or is that, im-urchin-ing a sea person?) "This is just bullshit kiddie text speak."

I blinked at him slowly, waiting for him to continue.

Jarwaun, my teenagéd aide-de-camp took the message from Rob's hands. "This normal. Why you callin' this bullshit?"

Rob rolled his eyes at Jarwaun in a manner that would later be called "condescending" when we reviewed the videotape. "Little man, this is, like, not even close to right grammar or spelling or whatever." He shrugged. "It's bullshit. Kids these days, they can't write right."

Jarwaun glowered (I had originally marked this as "scrunched," but Molly assures me his expression was "textbook glowering," a phrase that opens more questions than it closes. "Look, this is the way we communicate. This is how we type. It's normal. Ain't bullshit."

"But—" Rob attempted to interrupt but Jarwaun glared (The committee agreed this was glaring unanimously) and Rob ceased his interruptus.

"You think the way you talk or write is all normal? Here's my impression of you." Jarwaun slouched his arms in an ape-like fashion towards the floor and hung his mouth open. In an exaggerated slow voice he said, "Like, Mr. A, dude, man. Like, whatever, anyways. Y'all, fuck, man, dude. Y'know?" And then scratched his posterior for long minutes while Rob reddened. Jarwaun straightened out and grew mollified. "Sorry, Rob, I don't mean nothin' by it. I'm just sayin' that every youth culture got its own means of expression. You got one from when you were young. Molly's got one from way back when she was young." Jarwaun slapped a palm against my tank. "And I bet even Mr. Squid here talk the way teenagers talk down way under the sea."

This was enormously helpful, as you can see. With Jarwaun and Rob's combined efforts we translated your message thusly:

It is now Winter.
I find this season unpleasant.
Winter is cold (in certain parts of the world).
The cold forces me to wear socks.

I had expected profundity and I am rewarded for my efforts with banality.

Yes, unsigned teenager interlocutor, it is cold in the Winter. Your species lacks protective fur and dwells in extreme climates and therefore needs socks (and one presumes, shoes). To rail against these facts is to rail against the sun shining, the flower blooming, or the teenager speaking her own No-Adults-Allowed code. It is a fruitless pursuit left best to the fool.

We wish you luck with that.

I Remain,
Editor of this Humble Almanac(k),
The Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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Ask the Giant Squid: Grasping The Far-Flung Passions With All Your Mighty Hands

Ask the Giant Squid: Resolving How to Choose

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