A few days ago I posted the question about what our teenage self sounded like. My dad sent me a link to this blog posting from Thursday, May 21, 2009 found on the blog http://childrenofthenineties.blogspot.com/
This blog is awesome. It is a trip down memory lane. The reason that I share this posting with you is that it contains some of the phrases that I remember saying and using at least a million times growing up. So, check it out and please check out the blog as well. It is a great one to add to your morning routine. If you can think of others please post in the comment section.
In retrospect, all slang can seem archaic and dated. In modern context, it can make very little sense and contain idioms that are no longer a part of mainstream conversational currency. It can also be deeply, wholly embarrassing.
Don’t even try to deny it. You used these phrases, or you witnessed them being used and didn’t do anything to stop it, for which many experts consider you to be equally at fault. It was easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of hype and celebrity endorsement of certain words and expressions and abandon your principles of not sounding like an idiot. At the time, people would accept–nay, applaud–your adherence to pop culture norms. These catch phrases enjoyed a substantial heyday before being put to rest for being insanely irritating.
Let’s explore some of the ridiculous catch phrases that defined a decade:
- “Psyche!” (Variation: “Not!”)
Ah, there’s nothing quite like a good fake-out. That’s the nature of a joke, really, to lead your audience into an assumption and then defy it with an unexpected result. When you put it like that, it sounds rather sophisticated. However, there was a simpler way of expressing this. Here’s a little breakdown:
1) Make a statement.
2) Retract said statement by shouting “psyche!”, thus humiliating the baited individual.
This was pretty easy to fall for, as you can imagine, and could cause extreme playground-based embarrassment.
Example: A person requests a high five, then quickly moves his hand before the slap makes contact, punctuated with a rather cruel, “Psyche!”
Example: “Hey Tiffany, I love that Lisa Frank lunchbox… Not!”
This enjoyed a slight resurgence of popularity following Sacha Baron Cohen’s interpretation of it in the movie Borat.
“Talk to the hand!” (variation: “Because the face ain’t listening)
This was a pretty straightforward approach to avoidance. Seek to skirt confrontation? Well here’s your solution! Simply align your hand vertically, palm forward toward the person’s face. They will be forced to deliver their unwanted message directly to your palm, who is unlikely to absorb the full meaning or even reliably take a mesage. Even though technically faces don’t listen per se (auditory functioning is probably better left to ears) it was pretty obvious that your message was going nowhere.
Maury Povich: You are the father!
Potential Baby Daddy 3: I swear, it’s not mine.
Baby Mama: Talk to the hand, Cleatus, cause the face don’t wanna listen!
- “Da Bomb”
Let’s clear something up: usually, a bomb is a bad thing. We’re all fairly familiar with this interpretation of an unwanted explosive, and tend to use it accordingly in our conversations with others. However, that is the bomb. We’re talking “da” bomb. Da bomb is different thing altogether. In fact, da bomb is the best. The greatest. Explosively wonderful. Though your instinct will deny it, 90s slang prescribed that we now craved acceptance by means of other’s declaring our clogs or No Doubt CD to be “da bomb”.
Example: Did you see the X-games on TV last night? Those skateboarders were da bomb!
- “All that and a bag of chips”
In the 90s, it was never enough to simply be “all that” (that is, unless you were a kid-directed Nickelodeon sketch comedy show). No, there was so much more to describing your success. You would think if they were going to tack on some added value, these mysterious slang-starters would choose something of actual worth. Instead, they’ve chosen something you can purchase at a local 711 for $1.98 and that will inevitably leave grease stains on your Dockers khakis.
Example: That trapper-keeper is all that and a bag o f chips!
- “Don’t Go There!”
Don’t go where, exactly? Even if someone is steering conversation to an unsavory topic, it’s unlikely they’re taking you to an entirely disparate destination. This was also a favorite catch phrase of trashy daytime talk show guests, usually when confronted with uninvited questions. This was the ultimate brush off, indicating the other person was in no way going to validate your prying with any sort of substantial response. This was pretty much a conversation ender.
Sally Jesse Raphael: So, Judy, do you think your difficult divorce led to your extreme weight gain of 250 pounds?
Judie (indignant): Don’t go there, Sally!
- “You Go, Girl!”
Again, with the going. The 90s certainly had an active set of catch phrases. This was the age of Spice Girls and Girl Power (excuse me, grrrrrrl power) and women were eager to encourage each other, or at least egg one another on. They also frequently took to calling one another girlfriend, as in “Hey there, girlfriend!”
“You Go, Girl” was another standard staple of trashy talk show fare, as women publicly declared their independence or confidence. In theory, it was a nice concept, but this pseudo-feminism was not quite up to par with the serious activism of past generations. Let’s put it this way: “You go girl!” was to feminism as “Going Green!” is to environmentalism.
Woman: So, I decided I’ve had enough. I’m leaving James and wringing him out for all he’s worth.
Loud obnoxious friend: You go, girl!
- “Take a chill pill!”
Try as I might to locate a prescription for these mythical chill pills, it turned my mission was for naught. Apparently, this was some sort of metaphor. It was the kind of thing you frequently heard unruly teenagers snap at their parents.
All sorts of people were candidates for medical trials on the chill pill, but it mainly applied to teachers, parents, and other authoritative incarnations of “the man”. It was, however, often used inappropriately in an authority figure/subordinate situation.
Boss: Sherman, your numbers were down this quarter.
Sherman: Take a chill pill, man! I’ll reign it in.
“Then why don’t you marry it?”
This one probably applies to children in general and is not necessarily relegated exclusively to 90s children, but it was certainly widespread in its use. It’s a good question, really. Why don’t you? I mean, if you’re so attached to something, it seems pending nuptials should be in order. It’s the next logical step in your commitment. Or are you not willing to go out on that far of a limb for your Ninja Turtle action figures?
Example: “Cindy’s always playing with that worthless Wee Little Miss doll. Hey Cindy, if you love it so much, then why don’t you marry it?“