A new friend says Lit! the way I’d say cool. She uses it as approval and punctuation the way so many slang words are flexible and adaptable to any part of a sentence and often to contradictory meanings. She’s around thirty and the way she says the word I know she’s used it for some time. I’d never heard it before I met her a few weeks ago.

I knew I’d aged out sometime in my late twenties when I asked a woman a few years younger than me, How’s tricks? and she thought I was implying she was a prostitute. I had to explain that it was how Bugs Bunny said how are you? But if you have to back pedal to assure a person you’re having a casual conversation with that you’re not insulting them, it becomes a semantics debate rather than chitchat. I stopped asking people How’s tricks? after the seventh dirty look or eighth quizzical stare. I’m a slow learner.

I don’t know where Lit! came from and don’t want to find out. After the first time my friend said it I wondered what was on fire. Or maybe it was about being drunk or high. Then I thought maybe she says it because she runs a literary magazine. It’s none of those, I know, but I don’t care. A fifty year old who feels left out not understanding the new lingo is just sad and desperate. My cohort is on the cusp of grandparenthood. We should have a little dignity. Some self-respect. These expressions aren’t for us. We have plenty of our own, not to mention the multitude from centuries before our time.

When I mentioned Lit! to the teenage daughter of another friend she rolled her eyes and said it was what old people said. She fired off three or four of her favorite phrases that made her parents groan and that I promptly forgot.

—I wrote about the joy of getting rid of stuff.