Chachi, Slang, and Six Degrees
When I was in the first grade, one of my older brothers used the word "choice" for everything he liked (as in awesome, cool. etc.). The first time I heard someone else use the word "choice" that way, I assumed my brother had coined the usage and I was impressed at his influence on the world. I clearly remember my shift in world view when I later understood he was influenced by popular culture and using this word in reaction to the world as opposed to the one who had invented the use of the word and influencing the world.
We all invent slang and euphemism with varying impact on the world. The stuff that really catches on had to come from somewhere. I recall starting some very minor fads in middle school. After I heard that Harry Houdini had been killed by a punch to the stomach, for instance, I started a trend of saying "Houdini" and delivering an uppercut to the midsection. This was wildly popular for a few days then quickly stifled by the school administration. Similarly, in reference to a specific brand of ramen noodles called "Smack Ramen," I started a fad of asking people "what are you eatin' Ray?" followed by a slap. Again, this was wildly popular among adolescent males and not so much with school administrators.
In cases of other slang I have used and helped to spread, it is less clear to me whether I coined it or heard it somewhere and helped to make it popular. Last night I was startled to hear the name "Chachi" used as an insult on the show "Supernatural." My friends and I have used the term for many years. Any time someone does something to show off in a way that is obviously born of insecurity, we would label that person as a "chachi," like the character from "Happy Days." I am relatively certain I started this in my circle of friends back in the late 1980s. I may even have coined it. Or, I may think I did - similarly to the way I perceived my brother's use of the word "choice" back in first grade.
"Chachi shows up in several online dictionaries of slang and euphemism now. What are the six degrees of separation between my use of that word and the writers including it in the dialogue of "Supernatural" last night? Did I coin the usage? At the very least I am an early connection in its usage. Or am I just my own hero now that I have grown up and realized my older brother isn't Fonzi?