A few conversations I have had recently with friends had me pondering this issue while I was reading about all the benefits of moving to Jersey City in AM New York this morning. Ever since moving here I have noticed the abundance of people who use the word 'cheers' in their daily conversations. I am not referring to just before a toast, I am more referring to the people who use the word 'cheers' as frequently as a Smurf would use some form of the word 'Smurf' in their dialogue (ie: smurfy, smurftastic, smurfalicious).
First of all let me say I have a good amount of friends from other countries that use the word 'cheers' quite often. These are not the people I am talking about. This word is more prevalent in the vocabulary of other English speaking cultures and it actually sounds quite normal coming out of their mouths.
The people I am talking about are people born and bread in the United States, and one day decide they are going to start using this word. Like I said, I have mentioned this to a few people and it seems everyone I know has a friend that has done this to themselves. I really can only talk about people that I have hard evidence of this though. There was a guy that used to live in my building that instead of saying 'goodbye' would say 'cheers'. He used that word from the day I met him to the day I moved out, so even though I suspect he adopted that word sometime recently he gets the benefit of reasonable doubt.
Which leads me to my coworker who I have worked with for over two years now, and would frequent some after work happy hours with. About two months ago he was at my desk discussing which Transformers t-shirt suited him best, the Decepticon or Autobot version.
After we both agreed the Decepticon model might help his street cred more than the Autobot version we said our good-bye's. I said "talk to you later" he responded with "cheers". At first I did not think much of it, but over time the 'cheers's' persisted and increased. Of course any form of 'good-bye' is now 'cheers'. If we are at happy hour and the waitress brings him food, instead of 'thank you' she gets a 'cheers'. If I get an email from him, at the bottom it is signed 'cheers'. I asked him once to exchange 4 quarters for a dollar, as he handed me the quarters ...... 'cheers'.
How does this happen? I really want to know. How does someone go from never saying a word to it becoming a major force in their vocabulary. Did he meet someone cool that uses this word so he decided this word will make him more cool as well? I realize we have all done this in the past, if I did not adopt any words from others I would still be saying 'goo' and 'gaa' quite often. Then again I could have avoided the embarrassment of the stage when I thought Norville 'Shaggy' Rogers from Scooby-Doo was cool and added the word "Zoikes" and the phrase "Gang Way" to my vocabulary.
But at this age I really do not understand how this happens. Does one sit down at night and have a catharsis that tomorrow is the day everything changes. I wonder if they try it out on strangers to see how it goes before bringing it out for their friends and family? I will probably never get the answer to this, if I ask I will probably just find out that I happen to just not be cool enough to pull off this word socially. That's fine, I will happily stick to 'Zoikes' and 'Jeepers'.
Until next time,