It’s barely dawn and I am walking the dog. We are about halfway to the park when we come upon two other dog walkers having what appears to be an animated conversation.
We don’t know them. Or their dogs.
As we get close I hear the guy, who is walking what looks like a collie mix, loudly tell a woman with a short-haired-something or other (I stink at guessing breeds), “Let’s go, Brandon!” then hustling away.
The woman stares at the man as he storms off and, looking puzzled, says to me, “I don’t know what that means. Brandon?”
So, first thing in the morning I am called upon to explain this recent cultural phenomenon to one of the few American grown-ups who has managed to remain a fully functioning adult, while most of the rest of us have been transformed by social media into crude, smart-alecky 8-year-olds.
There's that Southwest Airlines pilot
For instance, the woman had not heard about the Southwest Airlines pilot who recently signed off on a flight, telling passengers, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
Or about how the whole thing began when a race car driver named Brandon Brown won a NASCAR race and, while being interviewed on TV, the crowd started chanting, “F--k Joe Biden.” The flummoxed interviewer suggested they might be saying, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
After that, the phrase became a way for grown-up 8-year-olds to say the f-word about Biden without actually using it.
Elected Republican politicians in Washington, D.C., started using the phrase.
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Donald Trump began selling “Let’s go Brandon” T-shirts through his Save America PAC for $45, and grown-up 8-year-olds in America actually purchased them.
There are adults who channel their 8-year-old selves by bringing signs saying, “Let’s go, Brandon” to public events, as well as some who scribble the message in paint on the rear window of their automobiles.
Others send emails, Twitter responses and voicemails to, for example, their local newspaper columnist that end with “Let’s go, Brandon.”
As if he will be impressed by their … what? Wit? Acuity? Savoir-faire?
How to answer someone who says such a thing
Of course, we all learned as children that infantile behavior tends to draw some type of backlash.
In this case, there have been calls by passengers and others who found the wayward Southwest pilot’s “Let’s go, Brandon” remark offensive to boycott Southwest Airlines. While others are calling for the pilot to be fired. Perhaps because, among other things, they are uncomfortable having someone so juvenile at the helm of a passenger airliner.
Southwest issued a statement saying, “The airline apologizes for this event – an action that was not reflective of the Southwest hospitality for which we are known and strive to provide each day on every flight.”
After I explain the whole “Let’s go, Brandon” thing the woman who’d been walking her dog she says, “That seems incredibly childish. How are you supposed to answer someone who says such a thing?”
I tell her that, as a grown-up, she would be best served simply ignoring it.
As for the rest of us, suffering as we do from social-media-induced age regression, I’d respond, “I’m rubber and you’re glue …”
Reach Montini at email@example.com.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 'Let's go, Brandon,' because now we're all 8-year-olds