I was slurping on a strawberry McDonald's milkshake. I was addicted to them in those days and whatever bouts of acne they had been causing on my oily, 13-year-old skin was secondary only to how I was going to sneak my milkshake onto the bus.
In those days, food and drink was banned on the transit system. I'd seen enough of passengers been kicked off the bus for such an infraction. That possibility - to be singled out and humiliated in such a public way - was just about the most horrifying thing I could imagine at the time, but still not horrifying enough to ditch my milkshake.
This was the biggest problem I'd faced all day. Math quizzes and English assignments meant nothing. As the bus pulled up, I hid my milkshake in my front pants pocket, cleverly concealing the bulk with my jacket and backpack. And then, somehow, I forgot all about it.
I sat down. Before long, I noticed a man sitting across the aisle from me giving me funny looks. I looked down at a river of pink ice cream dripping down my leg. "No!" I cried, wiping my precious ice cream away with whatever newspaper I could find, while all the passengers watched on.
I'd been wrong. This was the most horrifying thing I could imagine.
Had this same incident happened, say, 10 years into the future I likely have taken out a smartphone and whipped up some emotive description of the event, followed by resounding "FML."
But I didn't. Fortunately, FML didn't exist then. And I'm all the better for it.
FML, in case you don't know, is the worst thing in the world. It's an acronym for a phrase that ends with "my life" and begins with a word so foul I only use it when McDonald's screws up my order.
The phrase was birthed from the same swilling digital beast that bore LOL and BRB, but it's even more annoying. FML is the mopey younger brother of LOL. I loathe it and so should you.
This, of course, is old hat. I shouldn't even be writing about it. FML reached its zenith in 2009, after the sparing popularity of the website fmylife. com, a forum for people to commiserate about the little failures of their everyday lives.
It features banal posts like, "My homework is hard and I'd rather be doing push ups. FML!" by the boatload, and helped to introduce a whole new level of entitlement and "woe is me" angst into the Millennial generation.
Anything and everything was worthy of complaint.
"My dog smells funny. FML."
"My Frappuccino has too many ice chunks. FML."
"My new purse lost its new purse smell. FML."
FML became the zenith of Western youth taking the preciousness of their existence totally for granted. Their mundane failures - puny in the context of the problems in the world-at-large - became an easy way to write off their experiences and life was distilled down to three ugly letters.
The website is not nearly as popular as it used to be and in the realm of internet fads, FML might as well have existed in the Victorian age. I shouldn't even have to be writing about this. You should all be well aware.
But last week, the Now published its Junior Journalists issue, where Grade 7 students from Latimer Road Elementary school contributed a series of stories.
Two students wrote a helpful guide to text message jargon to help parents decode their children's confounding correspondence.
In case you missed it, the list included acronyms BRB ("be right back"), TTYL ("talk to you later"), FTW ("for the win" and not what some of you may have thought it was) and others that may have baffled the technologically deficient parents out there.
I learned a few new things from the piece (I thought FTW meant something else entirely), but I also found a few glaring omissions. Chief among them was FML. I thought this was strange, and for a second I felt relief that maybe FML had died.
Maybe it was left out because teens today don't need to educate their parents on this foul acronym because it needn't exist. Senseless narcissism has been omitted from this group of children's mental processes.
Imagine, if you will, that this end of the Millennial generation has become enlightened to the miracle of their life here on earth.
Perhaps they've come to understand, all at once, the value of hard work, determination and self-worth through perseverance. That little failures are not indicative of the total misery this world provides but small experiences by which we can all build upon and grow from.
Maybe the teens and tweens of today finally understand that complaining gets you nowhere, and that the only way to make a positive impression - in fact, to save the crummy world they will soon inherit - is to project positivity outward.
Or not. Chances are FML was excluded from that list because it contains a dirty word and the kids today are just as angsty and ridiculous as they were when I was that age. I'm probably reading into this too much anyway - a man confused and embittered by the memory of a long lost milkshake.
Stephen Smysnuik is a freelancer for the Now.
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