I poured cornflakes into The Kid's bowl, handed him the carton of milk, and opened the blinds. It's part of the morning ritual, and I did it without looking. I would have then headed toward the toaster but I was interrupted:
''Awesome, Mom, awesome!''
My response was automatic: ''Awesome implies, in fact means, something more than mere ....'' After all, I teach English; I am an ordained guardian of the language. I've read my Orwell and I revere my politics and my English language; I know the dangers of fuzzy thinking. I know what can happen to a word when a kid, a ganglion of adolescence, starts muttering it in the wee hours of the morning over a bowl of cornflakes just before school.
Why, in the last week alone the Mariners' fifth straight win was awesome; the tennis ball, doubling as a baseball, breaking neatly, cleanly through the upstairs window, was awesome; trying out the neighbor's new 10-speed was awesome; teaching his 78-year-old grandma Go Fish was awesome; the sounds of the Scorpions, The Who, and the Overture to ''The Barber of Seville'' were all awesome.
It started out as one of my finest speeches, but then I looked out the window. ''Wow!'' I agreed enthusiastically, stopping in my verbal tracks.
The early morning sun was pushing its way streak by streak into a sodden lead sky, a cold, steely sky not untypical in these parts - and leaving in its wake a slow horizon of gold and pink. I grabbed my toast and sat down quickly to watch the show. With each passing moment the sun pushed higher, eventually cresting the highest peaks of the Cascade Mountains, which then began radiating pinks and golds of their own from off the last slathering snows of an unusually late winter.
''Far out!'' I intoned, feeling oddly inexpressive. Dated, in fact.
The Kid poured his fourth bowl of cereal and glanced guiltily in my direction as he emptied the last of the sugar from its chipped container, a now topless vessel which I had thrown myself during my earthenware pottery phase. ''Nature's gone a little bananas, huh, Ma?''
Well, I suppose I had to admit it. Nature had gone a little bananas. A riot of jungle flora was exploding across the sky. The Kid pushed his chair aside, grabbed the bowl, looked at me, put the bowl down, wiped the milk drippings off his place mat with a depressing paper napkin, grabbed the bowl again, and headed toward the sink, where the bowl landed, making dangerous noises. ''I got to go, '' he mumbled, kissing me on the cheek - noisily, disgustingly, the way he has for as long as I can remember, at least as far back as my earthenware-pottery phase.
The sky now filled the kitchen window with a color best described as county fair Day-Glo orange, the color you find on kitsch plates in kitsch junk stores from the not so kitsch - just ask anyone who lived through them - '30s. Someone who wanted to win a doll, my mother or one of my aunties, for example, won a plate, a Day-Glo orange plate, instead. That was the color of the sky that filled the window.
''Totally awesome,'' said The Kid as he took a final look out the window and headed toward the door. His baseball muscles had combined rather artistically with the winter skiing muscles and the fall soccer muscles, and he didn't really walk or run, he simply rippled wherever he went.
Awesome, I mused, looking from the Day-Glo symphony outside to the rippling Kid inside who threw me a wave from the doorway, totally awesome, indeed. Another good word down the tube.