“I write my column every day and I don’t go into it thinking, like, ‘Girl, the kids are gonna eat this up.’ ”
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“I was like Dorothy just landed in Oz, not even red shoes on, just stunned, shewk” Thomas told me during the latest episode of “Cape Up,” which was recorded in New York. And if you’re a faithful reader of Thomas’s work you know that “shewk” is one of his go-to words. When French President Emmanuel Macron released his “portrait officiel” in June, Thomas wrote the dreamy photo “will have you le shewk.”
“It’s basically ‘shook,’ the regular spelling. But it’s sort of like ‘stunned.’ … It’s basically any person who’s clutching their pearls, can’t handle it,” Thomas, a playwright and engaging storyteller, explained when I asked him to define the colloquialism for the uninitiated. “And it’s a fantastic shorthand for, ‘Girl, I can’t even’ because I can’t always say, ‘Girl, I can’t even.’ Word economy is important.”
Listen to the podcast to hear Thomas discuss former president Barack Obama, whom in the Trump administration he’d like to meet (“Jeff Sessions? For what? Honey, no.”) and why his parents sign their postcards “Cliff and Claire,” as in “the Huxtables,” and once sent him one with a one-sentence message: “Spending your inheritance!”
“We grew up working class. My mother has a doctorate in education … but she took 16 years off to raise my brothers and me. And my father worked three jobs to keep us all afloat and keep my brothers and me in school. He would get up at five in the morning and deliver newspapers,” Thomas said. “It’s a reminder of like, ‘Look how far we’ve come.’ ”
“Cape Up” is Jonathan’s weekly podcast talking to key figures behind the news and our culture. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever else you listen to podcasts.