YOLO: You Only Live Once
[This article was published in today's Times of India, Crest Edition. A e-version is available here]
Last week’s shopping trip to the mall changed my life. No, not because they were giving a packet of glucose biscuits free with a 2 kg pack of Bournvita at the supermarket. Excellent offer indeed, but that’s not the point. What happened that day was bigger. Much bigger. A bit like Raghu and Rajiv getting up one day and deciding that they should start a TV show called Roadies that would feature young boys abusing each other’s mothers.
Here’s what happened. There was a teenaged boy arguing with his mother in the electronics section. He wanted her to buy a collector’s pack of GTA games, priced about a quarter of a kidney. She said no, saying it is too expensive and the game is morally corrupt. The boy’s response confused me. He said, “Come on mom, YOLO.” I was like, “what?”, and thought maybe he was saying “le lo”, but 5 minutes later I saw her dragging the cart away and him running behind, shouting “YOLO” loudly in between hysterical sobs. My mind immediately fast forwarded about 10 years, and I had visions of junior hunting me through a super-market aisle, throwing stuff at me, shouting “YOLO dad. YOLO,” as I panted for breath.
I rushed home and a Google search told me that YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once”. It is apparently the new mantra for youngsters. In our time, it used to be “Study hard for IIT. You have the entire life for games and girls.” Seems like now it has changed to “You Only Live Once. Why waste time on studies or other such useless pursuits that will merely make you smart and help you become rich and famous?”
At that moment, I took the decision that I need to be cool and start using terminology that kids use. Then when junior grows up, we could play good cop-bad cop with him, with me being the cool, empathatic dad, and his mother the one who says no to everything.
That evening, when the wife stopped me from eating the third gulab jamun after dinner, I smiled at her and said “YOLO baby. You Only Live Once.” She started laughing loudly, called everybody and took the gulab jamun, which was at that time about 3 milliseconds away from my open mouth. Later, as me and mom fought for the TV remote when she was settling down for Balika Vadhu, I tried my usual lines against the serial and she came back with “So what beta. After all, YOLO.” I heard the wife giggle from inside the kitchen. Not cool, man. The women are ganging up on me.
I have started calling the experiment Project Rahul given it is all about youth, and also because it hasn’t produced much results yet. I suggested to the wife that she should gift me the latest iPhone, which I am told can also work as a portkey, time-machine and defibrilator. It might cost as much as one of the smaller states of India, but then, of course, You Only Live Once. She countered by asking me to buy her a diamond solitaire heavy enough to double up as a paperweight. “YOLO”, she said. “Chalo”, was my response. The woman is so smart, she was probably Chanakya in an earlier life.
Not one to give up. I have worked hard to perfect my usage of the wonderful word that almost made it as the word of the year. Watch SkyFall over a weekday? YOLO. Eat chapati with peanut butter? YOLO. Get inside the lift at a 40-floor apartment building and press the button for each floor, while other people look on? YOLO. Get menacing looks for the next 10 minutes. Awkward.
Just when Operation Rahul was starting to feel like fun, disaster struck twice. I was ironing mom’s sari and thought of experimenting a little because, you know, YOLO. Ten minutes later, she saw my face through the hole in the sari and we will just skip the part that happened next. Let’s just say it wasn’t fun. Then I was driving to work when I rear-ended a car that had a ‘Jat Boyz’ sticker on the rear window. Saying YOLO and attempting a high-five nearly got me killed before dad dragged me away and emptied his wallet as a gesture of goodwill.
This sucks, man. I think our society is just anti-cool. YOLO doesn’t seem to work like the charm it is supposed to be. India will have truly arrived the day our PM comes on TV after the latest lakh-crore scam, shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘YOLO’. THAT would be cool.
Now let me try jumping off the roof of my house. I have a feeling I can fly if I concentrate really hard and visualise Katrina Kaif sitting in a tree drinking Slice. If not, well, You Only Live Once. YOLO.