For for example, if I say “pull up” it might mean I’m asking you to hit a set of 10s on the pull-up bar in the doorway, it might mean coming for a social gathering, or it can mean bring your asshole here, I’ll put these hands on you.
When someone says “put those hands on you” it means they are planning to fight, square, throw hands or catch a fade.
This is where it gets tricky.
“Fade”, or rather “fading up”, can also be a request that everyone offers for a few dollars on something, usually a reefer. Not to mention a “fade route” is a path for a wide receiver to run in football. To be “faded” is to be intoxicated. To “degrade” something is to color it in a spectrum that goes from dark to light. And, of course, “a fade” is also a haircut.
And oh man, if your barber or hairdresser is nice at their job, they have “bars”. But having “bars” can also mean that you know how to drive a car extremely well. Or that you are an exceptional blunt roller. Remember, saying someone “has bars” can also mean they’re a very talented rapper.
(Are you taking back what I put down?)
If a person is a skilled rapper, it’s more common for people to say they “spit gas”/”gassin a track”. But be careful, because “gas” can also mean high-quality reefer (it always comes down to reefer).
Additionally, “gassin” can also mean to lie or “blow someone’s head off”. Finally, “out of gas” can mean fuel in your car’s gas tank or indigestion in your belly tank.
Context is everything, huh?
I could go on for days about Northern California colloquialisms and how tricky they are. But word mutation is not specific to this region – lest I remind you of the big “brilliant“Scandal of the summer of 2020 which stirred up a good part of the Atlantic coast.
(The term “Glizzy” is said to originate in the greater Washington D.C. area, and is a euphemism for hot dog, but it comes from how people would describe a glock, or the extended clip that protrudes from a handgun. (And I’m pretty sure there’s a connection to male anatomy as well.)
The point being: words often have multiple meanings. It’s a reality. While every other aspect of Bay Area lingo from “bootsie” to “bipper” can be used in many ways, “slap” is where we as a community draw the line. I can’t even think of other words that we collectively think should only have one meaning….
Oh wait: “Bop.” That’s another. Because, for some, “bop” is a catchy song in good taste. But, uh, where I’m from, that means you’re a hoe. And I mean “hoe” as in “a promiscuous person”, not “a garden tool“.
Oh, the language. A collection of symbols that people have agreed and often disagreed on. I bet as soon as the first humans started talking, an argument ensued soon after.
Look, at the end of the day, I’m all for free speech: say what you want, just know the consequences of your actions.
And at the same time, I know that the words change. Language evolves, and so does the world we try to make sense of through the words we use.
As I envision a world where we can come together in common accord and overcome the problems of our time – the spread of COVID, the fractured education system, economic disparities, the impending collapse of civilization – I imagine which will be difficult to do if we argue about the appropriate use of the lexicon.
In conclusion, the Raiders and 49ers are in the playoffs, Klay Thompson is back on the basketball court, housing is a human right, no one should go hungry in the richest country in the world, mass incarceration is inhumane, and we don’t say “food slaps”.