Don't call me "Generation X,"
call me a child of the eighties
by Bryant Adkins
published in The Reflector
January 20, 1995
I am a child of the eighties. That is what I prefer to be called. The nineties can do without me. Grunge isn't here to stay, fashion is fickle and "Generation X" is a myth created by some over-40 writer trying to figure out why people wear flannel in the summer.
When I got home from school, I played with my Atari 2600. I spent hours playing Pitfall or Combat or Breakout or Dodge'em Cars or Frogger. I never did beat Asteroids. Then I watched "Scooby-Doo." Daphne was a Goddess, and I thought Shaggy was smoking something synthetic in the back of their psychedelic van. I hated Scrappy.
I would sleep over at friends' houses on the weekends. We played army with G.I. Joe figures, and I set up galactic wars between Autobots and Decepticons. We stayed up half the night throwing marshmallows and Velveeta at one another. We never beat the Rubik's Cube.
I got up on Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. to watch bad Hanna-Barbera cartoons like "Snorks," "Jabberjaw," "Captain Caveman," and "Space Ghost." In between I would watch "School House Rock." ("Conjunction junction, what's your function?")
On weeknights Daisy Duke was my future wife. I was going to own the General Lee and shoot dynamite arrows out the back. Why did they weld the doors shut? At the movies the Nerds Got Revenge on the Alpha Betas by teaming up with the Omega Mus. I watched Indiana Jones save the Ark of the Covenant, and wondered what Yoda meant when he said, "No, there is another."
Ronald Reagan was cool. Gorbachev was the guy who built a McDonalds in Moscow. My family took summer vacations to the Gulf of Mexico and collected "The Great Muppet Caper" glasses along the way. (We had the whole set.) My brother and I fought in the back seat. At the hotel we found creative uses for Connect Four pieces like throwing them in that big air conditioning unit.
I listened to John COUGAR Mellencamp sing about Little Pink Houses for Jack and Diane. I was bewildered by Boy George and the colors of his dreams, red, gold, and green. MTV played videos. Nickelodeon played "You Can't Do That on Television" and "Dangermouse." Cor! HBO showed Mike Tyson pummel everybody except Robin Givens, the bad actress from "Head of the Class" who took all Mike's cashflow.
I drank Dr. Pepper. "I'm a Pepper, you're a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?" Shasta was for losers. TAB was a laboratory accident. Capri Sun was a social statement. Orange juice wasn't just for breakfast anymore, and bacon had to move over for something meatier.
My mom put a thousand Little Debbie Snack Cakes in my Charlie Brown lunch box, and filled my Snoopy Thermos with grape Kool-Aid. I would never eat the snack cakes, though. Did anyone? I got two thousand cheese and cracker snack packs, and I ate those.
I went to school and had recess. I went to the same classes everyday. Some weird guy from the eighth grade always won the science fair with the working hydro-electric plant that leaked on my project about music and plants. They just loved Beethoven.
Field day was bigger than Christmas, but it always managed to rain just enough to make everybody miserable before they fell over in the three-legged race. Where did all those panty hose come from? "Deck the Halls with Gasoline, fa la la la la la la la la," was just a song. Burping was cool. Rubber band fights were cooler. A substitute teacher was a baby sitter/marked woman. Nobody deserved that.
I went to Cub Scouts. I got my arrow-of-light, but never managed to win the Pinewood Derby. I got almost every skill award but don't remember ever doing anything.
The world stopped when the Challenger exploded.
Did a teacher come in and tell your class?
Half of your friends' parents got divorced.
People did not just say no to drugs.
AIDS started, but you knew more people who had a grandparent die from cancer.
Somebody in your school died before they graduated.
When you put all this stuff together, you have my childhood. If this stuff sounds familiar, then I bet you are one, too.
We are children of the eighties. That is what I prefer "they" call it.
Movies and Music introduce wacky wordage into the lives of us all, forever changing the way we converse.
Language from movie, as well as many others, continues to pepper our conversations today, having transgressed from odd to ordinary. Here are some memorable 80's expressions...
Awesome Barf Me Outbodacious Bummedchill pill Def don't have a cow Dude Dweeb Excellent! freak me out Gag Me With a SpoonGnarlyGotta Motor How Very I am Sure Like major nerdNo doy No duh Omigod Psyche! (or Sike!) RadScarfing Smooth Move Ex-lax Spaz StellarStoked That's the ticket to the MAX Totallytrippin'Tubular Way Where's the Beef? Wicked yo Your Mama "de plane, de plane!""I pity the fool""Know What I Mean, Vern?" "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha""Mel, Kiss My Grits" "Mr. McGee, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry..." "nanu nanu""wonder twin powers- activate!"
"What You Talkin' about Willis?"
(1)Excl. I'd rather not. "Hey why don't you go out with that guy in the Izod shirt?" "AS IF!"
(1)Adj. Something extremely good, and exceptional example. ie. "That movie was awesome."
(1)Adj. Good. ie. "That movie was bad, man." Used by rapper stereotypes mostly.
(1)Noun. An unattractive male. ie. "He is such a Barney."
(1)Noun. Person who wears all black and listens to The Cure et al...
(1)Abrv. Short for Bulletin Board System. Until the widespread popularity of the Internet around 1994 or so, this was the means for email and message postings. Basically, someone set up a computer which was left on 24 hours a day, and people would call it from their computers and use the system. Some offered over 100 phone lines and were networked with one another to provide message exchanges between remote systems and users. Hackers used these to exchange pirated software with one another.
(1)Adj. Superb, excellent. ie. "That's a bitchin' Camaro."
(1)Adj. beautiful. ie. "That is one bodacious babe."
(1)Adj. Not good. ie. "I just died. That's pretty bogus."
(2)Excl. Really not good. ie. "Aw man, that cop took my board." "Bogus!"
(1)Excl. Used to denote satisfaction or one's approval. ie. "My parents are going away next weekend, I'm throwing a party!" "Bonus!"
(1)Adj. very cool. ie. "That version of the "Synchronicity" cover is boss!"
(1)Noun. Another name for preppie-usually a silly girl who wore a big bow in her hair. (Mid-to late eighties)
(1)Noen. Police officer. ie. "Slow down there is a Brody over there" Origin is from Roy Shiders lead roll as the police officer who sets out to kill the rogue shark in Jaws.
(1)Verb. To be calm. ie. "I'm chill."
(1)Excl. Take it easy. ie. "Take a Chill Pill! You're gonna get us all busted."
(1)Verb. To be resting. ie. "I'm just chillin' with my homey's in my crib."
(1)Adj. Something really good and hip. ie. "That's a cool shirt."
(2)Excl. Very good, very hip. ie. "I just scored tickets to Bruce Springsteen" "Cool!"
(1)Adj. Cool, awesome, agreeable.
(1)Noun. A homeboy's residence. ie. "I'm just chillin' with my homey's in my crib."
(1)Verb. To beat someone up...ie. "I'm gonna deck you if you play that damn Raffi album again!"
(1)Adj. Something very hip. ie. "That jam was def."
(1)Verb. To fake someone out. ie. "I deked him out of his shoes"
Don't Have a Cow
(1)Phrase. Remain calm, don't get excited.
(1)Noun. Someone who is not cool. ie. "Bill Gates is a real dork."
(2)Noun. A penis. ie. "Stop playing with your dork and get out here."
(1)Adj. Very hip and with it. ie. "Those Addidas are dope!"
(1)Noun. Someone who is cool. The opposite of a dork.
(2)Excl. A greeting. Used with a close friend that is considered cool. ie. "Dude!"
Origins of this context word can be traced to California. It was originally used in reference to a horse's penis.
(1)Noun. A woman who is cool. The opposite of a dork.
Not as commonly used as dude.
(1)Adj. Used to describe a place or thing as cool as someone dubbed a "dude".
(1)Noun. Someone who acts stupid. ie. "Only a dufus would play with matches." or "Don't be a dufus."
(1)Adj. Stupid. Usually used with the word "like"
(1)Noun. Someone who is not cool. ie. "Bill Gates is a real dweeb."
(1)Noun. A person who has achieved a high status in the BBSing culture. ie. "He has a 9600 BAUD modem, he's elite now."
(1)Phrase. Definitely. ie. "Do you want to meet Duran Duran?" "Fer Sure!"
(1)Noun. Police officer. ie. "Oh oh, chill, there's a Five O comin'"
(1)Adj. Very hip and with it.
(1)Adj. Very new, used in reference to music a lot. ie. "His beat's real fresh"
Multiple meanings, 70's disco leftover.
Gag Me With a Spoon
(1)Noun. A person who is not hip, usually implies stupidity as well. ie. "Don't be such a geek!"
(1)Adj. Of poor quality; poorly planned or executed. ie. "Hey man, do you like that new Atari game, Moon Patrol?" "Hell no, dude! That game is generic!"
(1)Excl. I don't believe you. ie. "I got tickets to Duran Duran." "Get Out!"
(1)Noun. Snot. ie. "Eww. You've got a goober showing." (2)Adj. Something stupid. ie. "Don't be such a goober."
(1)Adj. Exceptional. ie. "That move you just did with your board was gnarly."
(1)Adj. Disgusting. ie. "That garbage pail looks grodie."
Gross Me Out
(1)Adj. Cool, its an Australian slang term. ie "That's so grouse man"
Gross Me Out the Door
(1)Excl. Very Disgusting.
(1)Adj. A situation which is grave. ie. "This algebra test is heavy."
Most notable use of this phrase was in Back to the Future by the lad character portrayed by Michael J. Fox. The origins of this use can be traced to the sixties when it referred to a close personal friend.
(1)Adj. Not good. ie. "That wipeout was heinous dude."
(1)Abrv. Neighborhood. ie. "My homey's like to hang out with me in my 'hood"
(1)Noun. A close friend. ie. "I like to hang with my homeboys at the mall."
(1)Noun. A friend. see Homeboy.
(2)Noun. A greeting. "Hey homey, don't play that"
Widespread use can be attributed to the show "In Living Color" which had the demented clown (portrayed by Daymon Wayons) whose catch phrase was "Homey don't play that" in response to a situation he didn't approve of.
(1)Adj. Fun, exciting, and cool. ie. "This is a kickin' party"
(1)Adj. very cool. ie. "Your blue lip gloss is killer!"
Kiss My Grits
(1)Excl. A more polite way of saying "kiss my ass."
Origins of phrase trace back to the seventies on "Alice's Diner", it was a carry over for a few years into the eighties.
Origins of phrase trace to the eighties BBS scene which is where most of the usage stemmed from.
(1)Very cool. Seems to be primarily an East Coast term, started by rappers. ie: "The Sugar Hill Gang is the joint!"
Used as a modifier, really has no definition. ie. "I was all like, No Way" Used mostly in Valley Girl speak, it was the most widely used aspect of this stereotype.
Like, oh my God!
(1)Excl. Wow. Unbelievable.
(1)Adj. Really cool. ie. "That song sounds major"
Make Me Barf
(1)Phrase. A way to signal disgust with a situation. Sometimes used as "Make me wanna barf." ie. "I just bought a new Englebert Humperdink album." "Oh, don't play it. That'll make me barf."
(1)Excl. Someone has just done something very stupid. ex: "Nice move McFly" origin is the 80's movie, Back to the Future.
(1)Action Verb. To pull another person's underwear upwards in a jerking motion untill it wedges between ones butt-crack. This is done from behind the person in order to keep them defenseless.
(1)Adj. Excellent, memorable, "priceless. "How was your weekend?" "Mint, best yet!"
(1)Noun. Someone who is very smart and socially unacceptable. ie. "Bill Gates is one of the most successful nerds today."
(2)Noun. Also the proper name of a tangy candy made by Wonka candies.
Nice Play Shakespeare
(1)Excl. That was a really stupid action.
No S*** Sherlock
(1)Excl. Stating the obvious. I already know that.
(1)Excl. Not going to do that. "Do your homework!" "No Way!"
(2)Excl. Disbelief. "I got tickets to Duran Duran." "No Way!"
(1)Noun. An imposter whose intent is to fit in with a more acceptable social group. ie. "Marky Mark was such a poser, he pretend to be from the ghetto when he was really a middle class preppie."
(1)Noun. A person who dressed in upscale clothing and acted snobbish towards people not in the same social standings. ie. "That guy wearing the Izods is such a preppie."
(1)Excl. Ha! Fooled you! ie. Person offers an ice cream cone, and then pulls it away, he would then yell "Psyche!". Origins can be traced to an Eddie Murphy comedy sketch.
(1)Abrv. Short for radical.
(1)Adj. Something extremely hip, almost awesome ie. "His moves are quite radical."
(1)Adj. Something very cool. ie. "That Firebird ripps man"
Smooth move, X-Lax
(1)Excl. That was a really stupid action.
(1)Noun. Affirmative. ie. "So we're going at eight? "Yeah, solid."
(1)Adj. very cool. ie. "Your blue lip gloss is stellar!"
(1)Excl. Very excited. ie. "I am so stoked, I just found twenty bucks on the ground."
To The Max
(1)Adj. Used in conjunction with any adjective that you want to emphasize. ie "That chick is annoying to the max!"
(1)Adj. Something truly exceptional, not flawed in any ways. "That was like, totally awesome."
(1)Adj. A really cool move in skateboarding.
(1)Adj. Something that is totally amazing.
(1)Abrv. Short for Valley Girl. ie. "I'm a Val, I know, but it's ok because I come from a real cool part of Encino."
(1)An exchange between two people when one believes something the other does not. ie. "I saw your girlfriend with another guy" "No Way" "Way" "No Way" "Way"
(1)Adj. Very cool. ie. "The A-Team is way cool."
(1)Excl. Universally used for anything that leaves even an ounce of doubt in your mind. Usually used in a condescending tone by a Valley Girl. ie. "So she said, 'I really like your purse' and I'm like 'Whatever!'"
(1)Adj. Excellent or great. ie. "That movie was wicked"
(1)Noun. Word means "Yes, I agree with what you're saying, and will re-emphasize it." ie: Person 1: "That dweeb is grody to the max." Person 2, in agreement: "Word." Synonyms: "I know that's right," and "I heard that."
Yeah! That's the ticket"
(1)Phrase. That sounds correct. Usually an indication that an explanation was just created. Originated from Saturday Night Live sketch with Jon Lovitz who was a habitual liar in the sketch.
(1)Excl. A greeting. ie. "Yo homey, what's happening?"
(1)Noun. A person who is a white collar worker who has possessions of an expensive nature and flaunts them. ie. "You see that guy in the Saab, he's such a yuppie."
Origins trace back to the beginning of the decade when the "Yuppie Handbook" was written identifying the breed. Yuppie came from the acronym YUP, which stood for Young Urban Professional