Friday, March 23, 2007

Thank God You Can't Go Back

“I have to tell you about Chuck.
He’s indestructible.
Well, he is six and one half feet tall;
and he’s witty and pretty and all-American,
I’m afraid…”

You will have to excuse me while I have a moment.
Actually, a series of moments.

I am a child of the eighties. Today, you will not catch me in a tiered, knit, turquoise and white mini skirt, but, in ninth grade? Look! There I am, walking down my institutionally-colored junior high school hallways with my backpack and my anorectic best friend.

I’m pathetic. I have dumb hair and grodey braces and I am chronically insecure and hung up on one boy who I will never have, though I will continue to try in my sad, anemic way for the next fifteen years.

(At least now, I don’t have braces.)

The 80’s can be faulted for many things. Girl mullets. Perms. Permed girl mullets. The above-mentioned mini skirt as well as many other Crimes Against Knits. Flipped up collars on pink polo shirts. Safety-pinned jeans. Bandanas wrapped around safety pinned jeans.

OK, I am focusing too much on the fashion disasters. But when you are in junior high and in the fifth year of your ten-year awkward phase, those are the things that stick with you. And show up in pictures.

My niece and my best friend’s daughter are both in seventh grade. They are very different from each other, but I know they won’t suffer the same inequities looking back. They are gorgeous and their clothes are good.

I have to admit that I don’t know about their music, however. I have hit that point where I no longer know what “the kids” are listening to. I don’t really mind. I kind of want to punch that Fall Out Boy kid, shoot tiny stinging rubber bands at John Mayer, and I wouldn’t know a Good Charlotte from a Bad one. The aforementioned best friend’s daughter has tried to tell me what is popular, and I am afraid I am just old.

It’s hard to relate when you can still buy new, albums from Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and U2; The Red Hot Chili Peppers are winning Grammys; The Police are selling out concert venues; and teenagers are swooning over Johnny Depp. They weren’t even swimmers in the gene pool when “21-Jump Street was on.” At least I was alive in a four-Beatle world.

Heck—speaking of the Fab Four—even the Beatles have an album on the Hot 200 right now.

And, yes. I know they don’t call them “albums” anymore.

But I just got the best album in the mail. I’ll say one thing for the internet: it has reduced the scarcity of “collectibles.” It has reduced scarcity, period. At least in shopping. For people in the West. With money. And time to consume luxury products. It used to be that I would have to track down that one record store in the city that specialized in “imports” and flip through my favorite artists to fish out the singles from the UK and the alternate pressings. That is not necessary anymore, and the term “import” has lost its mystique.

That being said, it also used to be that if I wanted to hear “Bogart” by Nik Kershaw from the album “Human Racing,” I would have had to dig out my cassette tape from 1984 and hope that it still worked. And then, when it did not, cry. Instead, eBay and have opened up the world of Obscure Moments from my Musical Past, and I have received “Dark Adapted Eye” by Danielle Dax, “We’ve got a Fuzzbox and We’re Going to Use it,” “Giants” by The Bolshoi, and the above-mentioned Nik Kershaw gem. It’s heaven. I am 14, 16, and 18 again, but without the demeaning clothing, emotional turmoil, and unfortunate appearance of those times.

Instead, I am cooking soup, in a house I own, while my lovely and talented husband is off for a bike ride on a gorgeous Spring evening. Listening to my CD player shuffling those four fantastic discs at its discretion, drinking a pint of Guinness, and writing these musings on a killer computer. I'm not bragging. I'm just thankful. And lucky.

I loved the 80’s.

Or at least, I love them now.

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