Today I was walking around Brookline Booksmith, which is one of the last bookstores in the in country that hasn’t been bought out by a huge chain, mismanaged, and then shut down. And like most independent bookstores, it has kind of a upscale library feel: big hardwood shelves, tight walkways, and sliding, built-in ladders.
It was between the sci-fi book section and one of these ladders that I overheard the following conversation that two late teen girls were having.
“Hey this is one of those ladders the clerks must use,” girl one said while moving the ladder back and forth for effect.
“They must have to walk all the way up those. That’s pretty badass,” girl two said.
Is walking up that ladder, or the ladder itself badass? Now I have seen a lot of things in my time. I’ve seen a 300 pound man hold a 250 pound man over his head and then drop him on asphalt, I’ve seen heavy metal bands play while on fire, and I’ve seen women give birth. All of which I would deem badass.
But walking up a ladder?
It wasn’t even that high. Maybe eight feet. I’m afraid of heights and I could have done it.
This leads me to the point of this post. (If there ever is such a thing in this blog.) Is the word badass bankrupt? It used to be that a badass was a rare thing. You could go to war and not even be counted a badass. You’d have to kill five platoons of Germans with your bare hands. Hell, that was the standard even a late as the Vietnam War.
Now it’s going up a ladder. And to be honest, I’m not sure if those girls meant going up the ladder or the ladder itself. So they could have been saying that an eight foot series of wood planks was pretty badass.
I’m sorry but nothing easy defeated by fire is badass. Except Frankenstein’s Monster, of course. The problem with this is that anyone can use the word badass to describe anything.
And like any good Democrat I have a solution to this that involves a licensing committee. You should have to pass a test to be able to use that adverb. Like jump something with your motorcycle that’s on fire, or fix a jukebox with a slap. And of course the whole thing is overseen by the only director the Committee for Badass Licensing could have: Mr. T.
Only after you have fought a shark or jumped off a building tied to a fire hose, would you even be allowed to give the title of badass to something. Only then would badass mean something again.
Only then would old man Evans be happy.
On a side note: I am a uncle for the second time today. Make no mistake, there is nothing more badass then bringing another life screaming into the world. I love you Cami and Ashly. And I love my new baby nephew Corbin. May you grow up in Mr. T’s shadow.