When Frank & Moon Zappa’s “Valley Girl” hit the airwaves in 1982, I was 11 going on 12. I guess these days I’d have been considered a “tween,” but back then I was just dorky and awkward. I can’t remember exactly when or where I first heard the tune or when I bought the 45 pictured on the left. What I do know is that I became obsessed with it, memorized the lyrics, and sang along in my bedroom. I’m pretty sure this was going on in preteens’ rooms all over the country.
I’d never heard anything quite like “Valley Girl.” Even though it was quite catchy, it was equally as odd and certainly different from other songs playing on the radio such as “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Eye of the Tiger.” It was a lot more fun though!
Enjoying “Valley Girl” essentially meant learning a new language, complete with its own accent. I learned to say things like “gag me with a spoon!” “I’m so sure!” and “bag your face!” Perhaps more importantly, I picked up on inserting the word “like” into any and all sentences, multiple times if able. I imagine I drove my mother crazy with the “Valspeak.” She certainly got upset a few years earlier when I started mimicking the girl who moved from New Jersey to our small Southern town.
Like my mother is like such a space cadet
She like makes me do the dishes and
CLEAN the cat box
I am sure
That’s like GROSS
OH MY GOD!
At the time, I’m not sure that I completely understood that the song was making fun of these overly dramatic girls who loved shopping more than anything else. It is spelled out quite clearly, fer sure.
On Ventura, there she goes
She just bought some bitchen clothes
Tosses her head and flips her hair
She got a whole bunch of nothin in there
As a 7th grader in Richmond, Virginia, I enjoyed talking like a Valley Girl, but didn’t necessarily want to BE one. At that point in my life, I had no idea where my future would take place. It was still an unknown to me that in less than a year’s time, my family would pick up and move to Texas. So, to imagine that twelve years later I’d end up not only in Los Angeles, but in The Valley, might have made my head explode.
I’m a Val, I know
But I live in a really good part of Encino so it’s okay
So like, I don’t know
I’m like freaking out totally!
Just as I was able to shed my former Southern accent, I no longer talk like a Val. Okay, a “ya’ll” does slip out from time to time and I probably do misuse the word “like.” I guess it’s sort of forgivable since I am now an actual Valley Girl. Hopefully a smarter, less self-centered Valley Girl. I do avoid the mall and shop mostly out of necessity. I’ll also try to stop telling people that I live in a “good part” of The Valley.
There is one Valspeak word I don’t like. Can you guess which one? [Hint: Look at my first name].