Because I was born in the ‘80s, and because the first memories I have of life occurred in the ‘80s, I’ve got a particular fondness and loyalty for the decade and its bright colors, synthesized music, glamorous perms and the bulky shoulder pads I remember my mom and aunts sporting with gusto. But if I’m going to be completely honest with you, many of my ‘80s memories are kinda cloudy. I was so young at the time that I’m positive that I’m recalling them with filters of pop culture and my own imagination, filling in the blanks and making sense of everything my 6-year-old self couldn’t at the time. It's true to say I am a product of the '80s — but I undoubtedly grew up in the '90s. And that's where my most powerful nostalgic grip lies.
I attended middle school and most of high school against a backdrop of boy-band music, AIM away messages, and Doc Martens. I grew up aspiring to be a cross between Kelly Kapowski and my two camp counselors, Miss Jenni and Miss Terry, from Camp Waskowitz circa 1995. It was, as they say, a simpler time. In some ways, I’m nostalgic for it, while in other ways, I’m appreciative of the resources and technology I have at my fingertips, especially while parenting. Video monitors? Access to WebMD in the middle of the night? Organic baby food pouches?! Yes, please. That said, there are a few things I’d like to invite everyone to share a moment of silence with me as we revisit the glory of yesteryear and all the awesome stuff from our childhood that our kids will never get to enjoy.
The Pause That Occurred After Your Parents Answered the Phone and You Knew The Person on The Other End Was Asking For You
Between the ages of 12 and 16, I’m pretty sure that I held my breath every time the phone rang. There was so much promise, so much possibility every time the phone rang: Would it be for you? Would it be your crush, or your best friend calling to talk about your crush? The anticipation cannot be matched by the experience of today’s youth, with their own phones and custom ring tones immediately notifying them when a call is for them. They don’t even get calls, anyway. Too bad they’ll never get to live their best lives.
'90s Teen Game Shows
I may have a softer spot for teen game shows because I was once on one of them. (This one, actually. And no, I’m nowhere in the promo and I have no idea where the footage of it is. It was in 1998.) But still, Double Dare was the best.
The Sound Of A Dial-Up Modem
The sound of a dial-up modem connection was the sound of freedom and of the creepy Wild West that was teen chat rooms.
Janky Mixtape Of Songs Recorded Off The Radio
The end of the day countdown was always the best way to catch all the right jams. We all knew this.
Waving To Someone’s Plane At The Airport
I still remember seeing my dad off for business trips when I was in elementary school, and getting to watch him walk down the jet way. Sad panda.
What were they thinking? (Don't get me wrong—would still eat them today.)
My sixth-grade computer class instructor gave us free time on Fridays for games, and we would all race to the front of the room for copies of Oregon Trail and Zentris (which was an off-brand Tetris). It was the best 42 minutes of the entire week.
Beanie Babies & Troll Dolls
I once gave a troll doll a haircut, which I now realize was totally not the point, but it happened and I know I’m not alone in that experience.
Saturday Morning Cartoons
It was always easier to get up early on the weekends.
Calvin And Hobbes In The Actual Newspaper
I didn’t get all the jokes back then, but I do now. It was even more genius than I realized. My husband has already started reading it to my son, which is just as cute as you’d imagine it to be.
What else were driveways for? How are my kids supposed to injure each other's shins?
Passively Flirting With Your Crush On AIM
Do you think he’ll know this vague away message written in purple Comic Sans away message is for him?
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? Seriously, where tf is she?
Do it, Rockapella.
The girl across the street and I used to meet with our Caboodles on a daily basis, and trade stickers with the precision and ferocity of republican presidential candidate. Lisa Frank reigned supreme, followed closely by Hello Kitty and her friends, and anyone who says otherwise is no friend of mine.
Requesting A Song On The Radio
My heart is pounding just thinking about it. What if the DJ PICKED UP and played your call LIVE ON THE RADIO? What if your friends heard? Or your crush? So much sweating.
Walking To Your Friend's House And Ringing Their Doorbell To See If They Could Play
And then the two of you would walk to a third friend’s house and repeat the cycle. Squads really knew how to squad back then. I'm pretty sure kids just do group texts now and never actually hang out.
I see you, *69. You changed my life in middle school, you clever beast.
Did anyone really tell Cleo their problems? Something about late-night infomercials just doesn’t seem very trustworthy. But still, even today, I encounter certain challenging moments in my life and I'm life, "Damn, only Miss Cleo would know what I should do about this."
Walking Uphill To School Both Ways In The Snow
For some reason, I forgot all about this one until I became a mom. Funny how that happens.
Bringing Your Giant Book Of CDs With You Everywhere You Went
We all lugged ours on the bus for the epic choir trip I went on in eighth grade, because God forbid I find some other, more efficient way to show my crush that I am cultured than by casually displaying both Alanis Morissette and Spice Girls CDs.
Blowing In A VHS Or Nintendo Cartridge That Wasn’t Working
And when the game/movie wasn't working, someone would say "this blows" and then you'd all laugh. Yeah, it was pretty sweet being alive back then, kids.
The Pain Of Having To Rewind Videos Before Taking Them Back To Blockbuster
YOU GUYS. My family owned a device that did nothing but rewind movies at a super-high speed. It was the height of technology at the time. (Also, bonus points if you knew this gif is from Home Alone. Keep the change, ya filthy animal.)
Burning Your Forehead While Trying To Curl Your Bangs
Because no one would believe it was a hickey, and even if they did, it’s not like having one above your eyes was cool anyway.
Although I didn’t get a crimper until way late in the game, my mom achieved the same look by putting my hair in tiny wet braids and letting it dry that way. To everyone who wants a really slow and inefficient method to crimp hair: you’re welcome.
Recording An Answering Machine Message With Your Family Where Everyone Says One Word
I feel like the modern day equivalent of this are those musical vlogging families.
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