Not Too Bad

thThe other day at the Y, I asked Greg, the lifeguard, how he was doing and he replied, “Not too bad”.  It sure seems like I am hearing that expression a lot lately and mostly from young people. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean what it says – “bad”, but not “too bad”?  Does “not too bad” mean life doesn’t exactly suck, but it really isn’t anything to write home about either?  Actually, I believe that today “not too bad” actually equals “good”, “well” or even “great”.

I suppose it is an inescapable fact of life, that language is constantly going thorough metamorphosis. Tim McGraw had a hit song about that a few years back. For better or worse, the meanings of words do change. Some words have done 180s in my lifetime.  Today, in addition to the word “bad” actually meaning “good”, the word  “Cool’” used to mean, you better take along a jacket. But according to the Urban Dictionary, “Cool is now the best way to say something is neat-o, awesome, or swell”.

Here is what I’ve come to conclude: When the kids started wearing their caps backward, I thought it was crazy — for a while. Then I decided that it was really cool. I secretly longed to wear mine that way. Of course, I didn’t. At my age that would really look “bad” and I mean that the old way. But this language deal is an opportunity. If you want to feel a bit younger, the next time you make a mistake, say “my bad” instead of “my mistake or I was wrong”.  The next time you are asked how you feel, simply reply, “not too bad” and the next time you see something that is downright “swell” say it is “cool” and before long you might even begin to feel that way too!

However, before I end, I feel compelled to say that even though linguistics change, morals don’t. For instance, when Jesus condemned such things as pride, envy, adultery, hate, revenge, hypocrisy, badmouthing and the rest, he was speaking for the ages.  So in moral terms, those things never change. If it was wrong for the Pharisees to be hypocritical back then, it is still wrong today. Or in a more hip way, if that stuff wasn’t cool then, it is still not cool today. And that is not too bad!

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