Mary Marcus: The Yay Word

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When did grown-ups starting saying, writing, using the YAY word? Yay as in “You’re coming to town? YAY! We’re going over to so and so’s house for dinner, YAY!

Mary Marcus, Yay, Words, Yay Word, Yay Pineapple, Yay drawing, drawing, Southern Writer, Southern Fiction, Baby BoomerLet’s have sushi YAY!

I’m having an 85th birthday party for myself, and I’m not even senile. YAY!

Your daughter is having a baby YAY. You’re having a baby YAY. My daughter is having a baby, YAY!

Didn’t YAY used to be the provenance of children jumping up and down in the playground. Or going down a scary slide. YAY! You did it. Yay, you caught that ball.

What does it mean that practically every grownup I know punctuates events far from victorious with the Y word? We’re becoming a society of onomatopoeliacs.

According to the Urban Dictionary, YAY is “used as an exclamation of pleasure, approval, elation, or victory.” It’s also slang for cocaine, mostly in the Bay Area. I live in Los Angeles. I’m not sure what it’s called here, though I used to know what to call it in New York.

All these YAYs are giving me pseudo-linguistic saturation, not to mention ADHD. Even my own current novel seems to be popping up on the screen, how many stars would you give Lavina, Five of course. Five stars. YAY!

Think of this as you’re finding things online that bring you elation or pleasure: Every time you look up anything at all, whatever you look for is yours forever after, as long as you have a web browser and a credit card. Just use your secret password (as in open sesame) and type in a few numbers, and all your wishes and desires can come true.

You can find a hook up, a la all those millions of people on Ashley Madison. You can find a high colonic practitioner within five miles of where you live. You can find your high school sweetheart and prowl how many complaints your chiropractor/shrink/Dermatologist/ acupuncturist/drug dealer has received. YAY for the Internet.

YAY is also, as I mentioned and as I’ve discovered from my intense research on Urban Dictionary, a synonym for cocaine. Am I just paranoid or will my yay searches target me as a potential drug dealer? or user?

I’d love to get high like the old days, but I’ve grown up now and left those childish things behind. SIGH. That’s another overused onomatopoeia. SIGH.

What does this have to do with YAY? A lot, I think.

Most of us so called grown ups (myself included) have been dressing like children for years. I guess it’s not really surprising that now we are talking like children as well. When I was growing up, children dressed like children, and adults did the same. Not that is was a better world; in many ways it was a worse world. But at least some things were clear. Now everyone is running around in gym clothes and sneakers. And not just in California where nobody dresses, it’s happening in New York, in London, all over the world, there’s not much difference between the everyday attire of eight year olds and eighty year olds, except for fancy dress (as in let’s play dress up!)

Peter Pan, Alligator, Gif, Alligator, Mary Marcus, Southern Fiction, Yay Word, Happy Animal, Happy

Don’t even get me started on emoticons. Another seductive childish new habit that has no literary value, no education or study required for understanding. In short, related to yay, without even having to spell it out. It’s like a secret code made from cartoon characters.

We are being robbed and are robbing ourselves of articulate speech when we say the yay word, when an “isn’t that just wonderful!” or “a marvelous!” or a even a “dynamite!” would do just as well and convey more nuance of emotion.

As for the emoticon frenzy, when I discovered them, I found myself sending entire text messages with rows of high heels. A writer, who is meant to be in search of le mot juste, not le emoticon juste.

I’m going to stop the use of both at once.

No Yay Sayers.
No emoticons.

At least I’m going to try.

It’s over. YAY!



Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me and critically acclaimed, Lavina. Visit her website for more.


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On September 17, 2015
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