• DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    by Mary Beth Ellis
  • Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
    Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
    Random House Trade Paperbacks
This area does not yet contain any content.
« Harnessed | Main | I Got a Rock »
Wednesday
Nov182009

If You're Lost You Can Look and You Will Find Me 

I've mentioned that I was alive during the Apex of Civilization, as depicted here.

This is a pale shadow, of course, of what the 1980's really were.  The '80s were a singular time and place, when rising in the morning to the sounds of Tiffany and climbing into a pair of fluorescent-flecked Keds was considered an acceptable way of life.  An awesome way of life.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you this was the apex of Western Civilization.  Booming economy, singing Ewoks on the movie screen, Planter's Cheez Balls on the table,  space shuttle in the sky, Clearly Canadian in the fridge, glitter on the eyelid, Smurfs on the television,  MicroMagic in the freezer, and actual talent required for a career as a country-western musician.  And, according to the  historical document The Cosby Show, racial tension was at an all-time low.

When I grade papers, I stream sitcoms from the era.  They have a soothing effect, the plastic hair clips and belted sweaters banishing the comma splices and heartfelt analysis of "the notorious ancient author, Robert Frost."  Over the course of about two and a half weeks, I experienced the entire seven-year run of Kate and Allie, which I missed the first time around, for the timelessly artistic reason that it aired after my bedtime.   And at one point I looked up from a run-on sentence and saw the following:

MY SWEATSHIRT.  From 1987.  On my computer screen.

Note the velor!  The scrunchability of the sleeves!  This particular model is red with gold piping, which were my school colors, but I failed to execute quite the accessory puffiness exhibited here without an assist from a plastic headband.  It's inspiring, but there are still better glories to be found on Newhart, on which I once saw a sweatshirt with shoulder pads.

I saw a lot of little girls and boys dressed in '80's garb this Halloween, which, while initially a delightful revisiting of painter's caps and plastic chunks of earrings, gradually became a source of a horrifying revelation.   So... the '80's are now merely a long-ago old-timey decade of costumization occurring sometime between hoop skirts and last week.  It is now like a short fringed skirt or a wide riverboat brim:  An era distilled to a trinket or two purchasable at Claire's.

The shoulder pads may yet revisit us.

banana clip at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (10)

I hear ya! I'm not sure if I should be proud or appalled to announce that all things flourescent are back in a major way here in Arizona....it's a little creepy for me, as I feel as though I have been time-warped back to my high school.
My third graders are huge Michael Jackson fans, and have the gloves, the fedoras, the t-shirts, and are practicing their moonwalks.
Suddenly, it's 1983 all over again.
***sigh***
Just when I thought I had stored all those memories safely away in a hermetically-sealed safe.....

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemming

You do know that leg warmers are making a comeback, don't you? My nieces both were VERY excited to show off their latest new trend! Their faces took on quite the sullen look when I explained they were not quite as nice as the pink pair I had in 1982.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Bell

Meh... waiting eagerly for 2012, when grunge will reappear and it will be OK to wear my flannel shirts in public again —just as the Mayas foretold in the Chilam Balam :-P

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

WL and CB--
My 11 yr old niece is all about the 80s high tops and telling me that "This wasn't invented when you were born." I just love having to pull out the picts to show her, I did in fact live through this once. Oh, if only we learned from our mistakes.

My nephew asked if I knew who MJ was, when we saw a shirt the other day. Like, since I was a grown up I would have never heard of him when he was alive. I showed him I still knew part of the Thriller dance. He was totally impressed. I wished he was more impressed about the other things I know and try to teach him.

MB--I too feel very old but not as old as you by 37 days. Ha. Thanks for keepin me young.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelle Belle

I TOTALLY FORGOT about Clearly Canadian. Thanks for bringing me back . . .

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennwith2ns

Also? New York Seltzer!

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMB

And next - That 80's Show.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

It will not truly be a revival until eye glasses (not just sunglasses) the size of your head are back in style - a la Tracy Gold from Growing Pains. Been there, wore those. NEVER AGAIN!!!

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Reading this post has, for the first time, really made me nostaligic for my H.S. years. Thank you for that.

Also, flourescent-flecked keds? I am SO there.

...STILL have my collection of various 80's pins and buttons from my jean jacket (including the coveted "Canal Jean Co." checkered box pin I had to go all the way to Chinatown for). SO THERE. :p

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

NEW YORK SELTZER! Wow! I'd forgotten about that! I'm going to go back even further and ask if you ever had Bubs Daddy Gum!

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara N
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.