The 1980’s…what a ‘Gnarly’ Decade

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

I guess we watched a lot of television back in the 80’s. For that period, I thought the shows were entertaining and for the most part light hearted family fun. Our children were young then, ranging from five to ten years old, and they were able to watch the same programs with us. So popular were the shows of that period that catch phrases from certain characters stuck out and the viewers began using them, too. For instance, viewers of the ever popular Happy Days knew how “cool” The Fonz was with his black leather jacket and duck tail hair as his signature style. Since I went to a neighborhood ice cream parlor when I was a teen, seeing the characters meet every day at Arnolds, also brought back nice memories of my youth. All was fine and the story lines semi believable until one episode the writer’s had the Fonz water skiing in his leather jacket. A shark appeared in the water and he jumped over it. That episode was so ridiculous that critics and the program’s fan base from that point on used the phrase “jumping the shark” to signify something inserted in the storyline that was way over the top and unbelievable, in an effort to revive something past its prime.

Looking back now the 1980’s was a time of innocence and happier days, for sure. This is certainly evident in many of the silly and benign words we’d repeat from TV characters or that slipped into our culture. When I think back to those years, even the films were a reflection of an easy going life and outdoor fun. Much of the films we saw were California surfing themes, as was the music, with the Beach Boys still topping the charts.  Some of the phrases and “lingo” we picked up also had origins from the West Coast. Do you recall any of these 80’s catch phrases from back in the day? Take a mental trip back in time and see how many you recall the meanings of now that came from popular programs or just slipped into our vernacular. Some of these expressions are even still used to this day!

What is the meaning of: 1) Cheezy; 2) Stoked; 3) Preppy; 4) Radical; 5) Chill; 6) Airhead; 7) Spazzing; 8) Couch potato; 9) Gnarly; 10; Mall chick?

ANSWERS: 1) Something in poor taste, a bit tacky; 2) Really excited about something or ready to tackle a task; 3) A collegiate style of dress, like deck shoes and polo shirt; 4) Something awesome or very attractive, “rad” for short; 5) Take it easy, relax;  6) A ditzy person, a bit kooky; 7) Getting overly excited about something, over the top; 8) A lazy person that lies around on the couch watching TV;  9) Excellent, really great; 10) A girl that liked to spend all of her time at the mall. (Remember in those days the mall was the place to be for entertainment, shopping, movies and maybe even an arcade.)

Now let’s go back to 1980’s television viewing and see if you recall what program or commercial these expressions came from. 1) You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry; 2) Meep-Meep; 3; Just say no; 4) Da plane boss, da plane!

ANSWERS: 1) The Incredible Hulk; 2) Road Runner cartoon; 3) Nancy Reagan’s anti drug campaign slogan; 4) Fantasy Island.