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How Awesome and Amazing We All Are!

Cranky pants in a twist: Vocabulary 101

Isn’t it amazing how awesome almost everyone is? I mean, “rilly (sic) awesome and amazing.”

Someone’s child hits a dribbling grounder toward third base and it’s automatically “an awesome hit.” An oily-faced 15-year-old guy agrees with a ProActive-coated girl that Sbarro’s Pizza in the food court is amazing — and true love blooms.

I hereby declare prohibition of the words “awesome” and “amazing” by anyone under 40, unless they have seen the second coming of the Christ or a third world country has detonated a nuclear device.

How did everyone become so great?

Somehow in post-Dr. Spock time, no child can be criticized for poor performance. “Needs work” is about as stringent a comment as a report card gets now.

I’ll tell you that you’re amazing and you’ll return the favor by stating how awesome I am. Thus, there is an agreement in principle that we are worthy of each other.

No one can marry someone because they’re nice and they can get along. Partners have to be awesome and amazing because they can’t be seen with anyone who is average at best. It would reflect badly on the partner.

And we’re ALL special, aren’t we? Everyone marries their “soulmate." But then, why is there such a large percentage of failed marriages?

Did someone lose their “soul” — thus losing their “mate”?

Fuzzy and wishful thinking results in many an outrageously expensive wedding today. Average cost of the ceremony and reception is more than $25,000; that doesn’t include the cost of the engagement party, rings, honeymoon, airline tickets, photographer and videographer. It is twice what was originally budgeted, thus starting a couple in the hole on their lifetime journey.

The television show “Bridezillas” was the best example of fairytale wishes running amok. These women led a frenzied search for the perfect gown, flowers, tiara and table favors, leaving abused friends, family, wedding planners and vendors in their wake.

The event took on the equivalent meaning of life itself. All the parts have to lead up to an awesome occasion or there will be hell to pay: verbal abuse taken to new depths.

So now the newly married couple starts their life hobbled by debt in search of the “Perfect Wedding."

What follows? The snappy autos (with large monthly payments) and zero-down McMansions are expected because they can’t be seen in anything less than an amazing car and an awesome house.

When the repo man comes-a-calling for the loaded SUV or the foreclosure notice is posted on the front door, the reality of reality TV might make for a better story: one with consequences.

I remember, in the Stone Age, when I was applying for graduate school, I was required to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) and the MAT (Miller Analogies Test). These results would give the universities a reasonable measure of a college graduate’s ability to communicate.

I wonder how the average scores are measuring up. I notice a marked decrease in word skills among the 20- to 30-somethings. This is not only in numbers of words; but also in pronunciation. “Really” has become “rilly." “Like” is a word used as a buffer and space filler: “He’s, like, so totally awesome.”

And “totally” has become an all-around pronouncement of disapproval and approval: “totally gross” and “totally awesome."

Reality TV is a genre that is a welcome home for the mundane brains, which mask themselves as special people. “I must be special, I’m on TV!”

As “The Bachelor’s" Jake continued to smooch and crinkly-grin his way through more than 20 women, he often voiced his approval by using the words “awesome” and “amazing."

AWESOME: exceedingly grand, sublime, extremely powerful.

AMAZING: overwhelm with surprise, astonish greatly.

Those words should be reserved for an erupting volcano or a flight of derring-do with fantastic effort by the doer of deeds so difficult as to astound the observer. Yet what do we hear?

“He showed up to watch my game. He’s so awesome!”

“You like blueberries more than strawberries? Me, too! That’s amazing!”

In addition, there are no degrees of awesome. It’s an ultimate pronouncement on its own.

This morning I heard a music group on the radio talking about its formation; a member said: “When her and him got together, it was kinda awesome.” Either it was awesome or it wasn’t. It can’t be “kinda."

As to the strangulation of the pronouns — I’ll leave that to a Cranky Pants rant all to itself.

Too much to handle here.

For more than 30 years, Edie McClurg has been an industry staple who has woven herself into our cultural lexicon with her work as an actress, improvisational comedian, writer, radio operations manager and teacher. She currently co-stars as Helen on HBO's animated series "The Life and Times of Tim." She also voices Fran the Squirrel on children's series "Higglytown Heroes," Mom on the Disney Channel's "Fish Hooks" and Pinnacle Foods Group's iconic talking syrup bottle Mrs. Butterworth. She also is known for her roles in some of John Hughes' most popular films, including Grace the Secretary in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and the car rental clerk in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." She played moms in both Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" and Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It." Some of her more noteworthy TV roles include her stint as Mrs. Herb Tarlek on "WKRP in Cincinnati" and the unforgettable Mrs. Poole on "Valerie/The Hogan Family."