What It Be Like?
Posturing a hip hello in a world of many choices
Al Carlos Hernandez
I firmly believe that no matter what age, vocation, or standard of living a man has, irrespective of racial ethnicity or gender identification, he wants to be perceived as being cool. One of the best ways to determine the level of coolness one maintains is by the way a fellow greets other males they consider hipper than themselves. A greeting such as ?What?s Happening?? or ?Homie, homie, homie, don?t you know me, know me, know me?? is a verbal handshake and speaks volumes about a man?s perceived hip sided self image.
Published on LatinoLA: May 12, 2003
It doesn?t matter if you are, broke or paid, G?d up or geriatric, straight up hip or square as a brick. Guys still seem to greet the longtime running buddy road dog friends in the same manner they did when ya?ll ran together long before the rigors demands and formality of grown up life, sucked all of the all-nighters out of your palm pilot.
I am fortunate to have a close group of friends who I worked with while we were in our late 20tys, revolutionizing Spanish Radio in the Bay Area. Every time we see each other it?s always, ?What it be like Homes?? No one outside the Splanglish war worn click has ever gotten it right.
Each one of these guys has gone on to become big time media executives, one an International preacher and we get together we fall back into the colloquial phrasings and the Animal house mind set. We said the ?What it be?? phase when it was neauvou hip then, and when we say it now with a youthful swagger, it brings back rough memories of a young adulthood gone gonzo.
Cool greetings vary by culture and life experience. Traditional hello?s run the gamut from, Duuude, Hey, You old snake in the grass, You old son of a gun, Q Vo, My Brother, Orale pues, Partner, Cuz, Blood, Son, Boy, You old horse thief, and the recently proclaimed king of the manly greeting What?s Up?
The trick is, if you don?t really know the person you are meeting, you have to gauge their level of coolness up front, because if you toss out a ?What?s happening Dude-o-matic? to a ?What?s up Dogg? styled guy, you?re a Dork, then often times will resort to profanity to try to maintain a certain street credibility but by then it?s too late.
Folks who swear indiscriminately and for effect demean themselves and disrespect those around them. People who consider themselves cool, have spent way too much time thinking about themselves, have a very short attention span, and you have three seconds to make or break your hipster credibility.
Someone said that we are all the same age inside and it doesn?t matter if middle age has caught up with you, and you look like your gimp drunk womanizing uncle. Most men and I am no exception, visualize themselves at the rudest roughest toughest babe magnet.
We try to test that memorial machismo when we greet someone we consider a hipster in the radical chic demographic. The right greeting received in-kind can valid a mythological hipness. The wrong greeting could signal a sour response, validating your wife?s contention that you are a useless old goat poser that will never be a novela heart throb, rather a useless gas bag.
I have learned from my sons that in a casual situation a cavalier ?What?s up?? is an all purpose salutation, just as long as it is conveyed with the proper emotionally detached attitude. Never show anybody that you are actually happy to meet them.
Although I use the ?What?s up?? what works best for me is a New York mob styled ?How ya doin??. This works because I have embraced my OG status. OG in Hip Hop terminology is a respected title meaning ?Original Gangster? or more in a tongue in cheeky vein ?Old Guy?. Much like Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch, or in my case I try to entertain a more ?Superfly? demeanor.
The problem gets complicated when, when you meet up with Latino hipsters and you have to decide on the spot if your going with an ?Orale Homes? or a ?What?s up?? It is uncomfortable when you accidentally try to out hip a Black guy and you go with the ?My Brother?, and he comes back with the ?Your Mother.? In racially ambiguous cases I always go with the ?How ya doin???
You only have once chance to make a first impression. The good news is, if the person you are meeting is way too hip for the room, chances are good that they can?t help you none anyway.
Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.