I may be behind the times on this, but it's recently occurred to me that there is a word that is overused by many people my age and younger: ever. Now I don't mean to sound like that professor that claimed that the instances in Alanis Morrissette's "Ironic" ("it's like rain on your wedding day") were technically not ironic, but I think 'ever' is frequently misused. From saying you had the worst tan ever to having the worst day ever to seeing the best show ever, 'ever' seems to end sentences as frequently as periods do.
When I think of the word 'ever,' I associate it with a sense of finality in the grand scheme of things. It's the accumulation of everything that the person has known up until that point, thus hinting that things in the future will not be up to or below that level. Well, what happens when something tops something that was once dubbed "the best ever"? In other words, when I hear someone talk about how a My Chemical Romance show was "the best show ever," I wonder what will happen when that person sees a show that was better than "the best show ever."
There is something about the younger age bracket that thinks more in black and white than the older age bracket. Maybe this has always been the case, but I'm just now coming to realize this at 26 as I'm more in the gray than black or white. Back in college, I never claimed that Ben Folds Five's self-titled debut or Jimmy Eat World's Clarity were some of the greatest records ever released. I thought they were some of my all-time favorite albums, but not the be-all, end-all records for everyone. Many bands, records and shows have come to top others while some remain very high and mighty in my mind. I still cherish Clarity, all of Ben Folds Five's records, face to face's Don't Turn Away, two particular Red Animal War shows, the Promise Ring's gig at Fitzgerald's in 1998, Jimmy Eat World/At the Drive-In's gig at Rubber Gloves in 1999 and Fugazi's gig at the Ridglea Theater in 2002. All of those are hard to top, but I'm sure that there will be others to add to the list in years to come.
VH1 has a show called Best Week Ever, which takes a look at the current week with a lot of wit implied. With its over-the-top narrator's voice, the week in music, movies, TV and world events are recapped in a faux-newsreel style ala World War II propaganda films. The show's producers get the joke that it's not the "best week ever" and I think a lot of people my age get the joke too, but I just find myself thinking about why so many people think that this week (or band or show or day) is better than any other week (or band or show or day). Do we really live in a time where everything is replaced and the former is erased?
I chalk this sense of finality to a youthful look at life in the immediate now and not looking too far down the road. As Paul Weller put it in the Jam's "When You're Young": "Life is a drink and you get drunk when you're young." I echo that statement but I don't think there's an expiration date for youth. It's up to the individual to decide where he/she is in life with his/her maturity and outlook.
For me, I'm one who is all about finding happiness in the now with what I have now (the physical, the mental and everything in between), but I understand that those things may not be with me forever. I'm cautious about the words I use to describe what I enjoy and what annoys me. There are things that I could not fathom doing at 16 that are second nature to me now at 26 like driving a car, having a dog in the house and writing a book.
When you're a teenager, you're often not thinking about paying the rent, paying off student loans or even paying for food. When you reach that point of responsibility, that probably signals the most drastic change from being a kid to an adult. I've seen people become so beaten down by the pressures that come with financial responsibility but I've also seen those same people feel more free and alive than they ever did when they were younger.
Being young may be "the best thing ever," but unfortunately, we don't stay 18 forever. Some may think that when they become 21 then they will start their lives. But as Roger Waters said, life doesn't begin in one spot, it's always going. I doubt that attitude will ever change.