Friday, February 1, 2013


They say that America is the land of opportunity. Indeed, as the mother of an American teenager, I have myriad opportunities to annoy, embarrass, dare I say ... humiliate that offspring.

One of the sure-fire ways to make adolescent eyes roll is to try to use au courant text acronyms. I understand this, which is why my texts to my daughter don't typically include ttyl (talk to you later), kk (okay), lol (laughing out loud), lmao (laughing my ass off) or the more descriptive — if off-color — lmfao. This presents very little hardship, because my texts are seldom about laughing matters.

Nevertheless, even with all my astute astuteness, I just came across an acronym that sparked my imagination: yolo.

I apologize to anyone particularly with it (or under twenty). I know that yolo is yesterday's news. But, for me, it was literally that; I found out about it yesterday.

yolo = you only live once

Like so much of the English language, this James Bond-inspired acronym has different shades of meaning. On the upside, it means "carpe diem," seize the day (because yolo). In sort of the middle ground, it means "don't sweat the small stuff" (because yolo). Then there's the downside: "don't sweat anything, don't care, act like a jerk" because yolo.

According to my daughter, the yolo 'tude gives people permission to behave badly. Putting yourself first? Yolo. Cutting class to smoke dope on the path next to the high school? Yolo. Telling someone what you really think (even if it hurts their feelings)? Yolo. This has created a yolo backlash. So, not only am I behind the times apparently, but the trend I'm tuning into has already reversed itself.

Still, I like my first, more positive interpretation. As far as we know, we do only live once. And even at the not quite ripe old age of fifty, my regrets center around opportunities I passed over. Y'know, the things I didn't do, rather than the things I did. A good friend has a quote on his mantelpiece that reads, "What would you try if you knew you couldn't fail?" That's my idea of yolo.

A few years ago, my husband, then tween daughter and I were spending April vacation in Mexico. I had seen a story on the Travel Channel about zip-lining and thought it looked amazing. So, as we were planning the trip, I told my family that I wanted to zip-line.

Let me tell you, if you took all the laughs ever offered up to Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Joan Rivers, and Kathy Griffin ... combined, they wouldn't hold a candle to the guffaws, disbelief and general merriment that ensued. My beloved child and spouse were rolling on the ground.


"No way!"

"You would never!"

I was hurt. Sure, I'm not what you would call an "outdoorswoman." My idea of camping is a hotel that doesn't have pay channels. But, it's not like I'm a big scaredy cat. I do brave things. Just generally not brave things that require a helmet and a harness. Nevertheless, their reaction made me all the more determined and once we arrived in Playacar, we found an outfitter and booked our "extreme canopy adventure."

The next day, we arrived at Selvatica, which means "citizen of the jungle," along with about a dozen other gringos. After mandatory pictures taken with parrots (really) and some brief safety training, we were escorted by guides up into the trees. High, high, high up in the trees. We would do about twenty lines, then swim in a cenote (an enchanted fresh water sinkhole), have lunch and head back to our resort. We watched the first couple of people go and it was our turn. My husband and daughter were giving each other knowing looks all the while; they still thought I was going to bail.

And, so did I. As a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I suddenly pushed ahead of them. I knew that if I didn't take that first run right then, I'd be doing the climb of shame back down to base camp. A guide clipped my harness to the line; I held my breath and let go.

In the most ubiquitous text acronym of all ... OMG!!!!!

The ninety minutes and twenty lines were over way too fast. I loved every white-knuckled minute of it. The wind, the speed, the views. It was amazing. Honestly one of the most fantastic things I have ever done. (So there, you guys!)

That feeling of exhilaration is something that I want my daughter to know and embrace. She is more naturally fearless than her mother (I'm more anxious watching her jump in horse shows than she is actually jumping). But, I hope I taught her a good lesson that day.

My brother once told me, "Leap and the net will appear." 

What can I say? Yolo. 

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