A recent article in the San Antonio Express-News observed, “Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry proved his troll game is on fleek Wednesday after a state court dismissed abuse-of-power charges against him.”
To people of a certain age, of whom I am one, that sentence makes almost no sense. Troll game? On fleek? Off to the internet I went and discovered as follows:
Troll is slang for a person who sows discord on the internet by posting inflammatory messages with the deliberate intent of annoying readers and provoking them into a heated response. In other words, Perry enjoys being a smart-aleck trouble-maker. Okay, I’ll buy that.
On fleek is a bit more complicated. The closest thing to a definition I could find is that it means “on the mark” or “on point” or “just right.” The earliest example cited dates back to 2003, when it was submitted to the Urban Dictionary as a term meaning “smooth, nice, sweet.” The term gained wide currency in June of 2014 owing to a mini-video on Vine, the online video-sharing service, posted by one Peaches Monroee. Ms. Monroee (yes, there is a second “e” in her name) can be viewed preening and saying something that sounds like “We in dis bitch, finna get crunk. Eyebrows on fleek, dafuq?”
This is helpfully translated by a hip blogger as “We are in the car, fixing to have a wild time. My eyebrows look absolutely fabulous, so what the heck?”
Apparently fleek is a word that is used almost exclusively to refer to the condition of exemplary eyebrows. Etymologists surmise that it is a variant of flick, a term sometimes used by cosmeticians to describe various configurations of the eyebrows. One advertiser promises its cosmetic techniques will perfect “your feline flick.” Another offers “7 hints for Creating Perfect Eyeline Flick.” Flick is apparently a reference to exaggerated shapes made by eyeliners on the outer edges of eyes. Think Amy Winehouse.
Flick, meaning "a light blow or stroke," dates to the 15th century, and is probably imitative of the sound of lightly slapping with a whip. The earliest recorded use is in the phrase "not worth a flykke," meaning "useless."
Whether the Express-News is referring specifically to Perry’s eyebrows is an open question—but he wasn’t known as Governor Goodhair for nothing.
The Bard of Buffalo Bayou has good hair—it just doesn’t doesn’t grow in the right places.
The governor was mighty fleek,
His eyes were bright, his hair was sleek,
A rosy glow was on his cheek,
He had a muscular physique.
But when the gov. began to speak,
An “oops” was all that he could shriek.
Oh what fiascos fate doth wreak,
To flick such flak at one who’s fleek!