Originally circulated on USENET and BBSes in the late 1990s. Author Unknown.
Can you relate? I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s. That is what I prefer to be called. The 90’s can do without me. Grunge isn’t here to stay, fashion is fickle and “Generation X” is a myth created by some over-40 writer trying to figure out why people wear flannel in the summer.
When I got home from school, I played Atari. I spent hours playing Pitfall or Combat or Breakout or Frogger. I never did beat Asteroids. Then I watched “Scooby Doo.” Daphne was a Goddess, and I thought Shaggy, was smoking something synthetic in the back of the mystery machine. I HATED SCRAPPY.
I would sleep over at friends’ houses on the weekends. We played army with G.I. Joe figures, and I set up galactic wars between Autobots and Decepticons. We stayed up half the night throwing marshmallows at one another. We never beat Rubik’s cube, unless you count taking off the stickers.
I got up on Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. to watch bad Hanna-Barbera cartoons like “The Snorks,” “Jabberjaw,” “Captain Caveman,” and “SpaceGhost.” In between I would watch “School House Rock.” (“Conjunction junction, what’s your function?!”) On Friday Night Daisy Duke was my future wife. I was going to own the General Lee and shoot dynamite arrows out the back. Why did they weld the doors shut?
Did your dad turn from mild-mannered Bill Bixby into “The Incredible Hulk” when he got upset? At the movies the Nerds got revenge on the Alpha Betas by teaming up with the Omega Mu’s. I watched Indiana Jones save the Ark of the Covenant, and wondered what Yoda meant when he said, “No, there is another.”
Ronald Reagan was cool. Gorbachev was the guy who built a McDonalds in Moscow. My family took summer vacations to South Florida and collected “Muppet Movie” glasses along the way. (We had the whole set.) My siblings and I fought in the back seat. At the hotel we found creative uses for Connect Four pieces like throwing them in that big air conditioning unit.
I listened to John Cougar Mellencamp sing about Little Pink Houses for Jack and Diane. I was bewildered by Boy George and the colors of his dreams: red, gold and green. I was a “Wild Boy” according to Duran Duran. MTV played MUSIC videos. Nickelodeon played “You Can’t Do That On Television” and “Dangermouse”. Does anyone remember the “Banana Splits?”
HBO showed Mike Tyson pummel everybody except Robin Givens, the bad actress from “Head of the Class,” who took all Mike’s money the first time.. I drank Dr Pepper. (“I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?”) Shasta was for losers. TAB was a laboratory accident. Capri Sun was a social statement. Orange Juice wasn’t just for breakfast anymore, and bacon had to move over for something meatier. My mom put a thousand Little Debbie Snack Cakes in my Charlie Brown lunchbox and filled my Snoopy Thermos with Grape Kool-Aid. I got two thousand cheese and cracker snack packs, and I ate them all. I went to school and had recess. Field day was bigger than Christmas, but it always seemed to rain just enough to make everybody miserable before they fell over in the three-legged race. Burping was cool. Rubber band fights were cooler. A substitute teacher was a marked woman. Nobody deserved that.
I went to Cub Scouts. I got my arrow-of-light, but never managed to win the Pinewood Derby. I got almost every skill award but don’t remember ever doing anything.
The world stopped when the Challenger exploded. Half of your friends parents got divorced.
People did not say no to drugs. AIDS started, but you knew more people who had a grandparent die from cancer. Somebody in your school died before they graduated.
We are the ones who played with Lego Building Blocks when they were just building blocks and gave Malibu Barbie crewcuts with safety scissors that never really cut. Big wheels and bicycles with streamers were the way to go, and sidewalk chalk was all you needed to build a city. Imagination was the key. Your world was the backyard and it was all you needed.
With your pink portable tape player, Debbie Gibson sang back up to you and everyone wanted a skirt like the Material Girl and a glove like Michael Jackson’s. Today we are the ones who sing along with Bruce Springsteen and The Bangles perfectly and have no idea why.
We recite lines with Ghostbusters and still look to the Goonies for a great adventure. We flip through T.V. stations and stop at the A-Team (“Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?”) and Knight Rider and Fame and laugh with The Cosby Show and Family Ties and Punky Brewster and “What you talkin’ bout Willis?” We hold strong affections for The Muppets, Care Bears and The Gummy Bears. And why did they take the Smurfs off of the air? After school specials were about cigarettes and step-families. The Polka Dot Door was nothing Like Barney, and aren’t the Power Rangers just Voltron reincarnated?
We are the ones who still read Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume. Friendship bracelets were ties you couldn’t break and friendship pins went on shoes – preferably hightop Velcro Reeboks. And pegged jeans were in, as were unit belts and layered socks and jean jackets and JAMS and charm necklaces and side pony tails and just tails. Rave was a girl’s best friend; braces with colored rubberbands made you rad.
The backdoor was always open and Mom served only red Kool-Aid to the neighborhood kids. YOU NEVER drank the New Coke. Entertainment was cheap and lasted for hours. All you needed to be a princess were high heels and an apron; the Sit ‘n’ Spin always made you dizzy but never made you stop; Pogoballs were dangerous weapons and Chinese Jump Ropes never failed to trip someone. In your Underoos you were Wonder Woman, Spider Man or R2D2 and in your treehouse you were a king.
In the 80’s, nothing was wrong. Did you know the president was shot? Star Wars was not only a movie. Did you ever play in a bomb shelter? Did you see the Challenger explode or feed the homeless man? We forgot Vietnam and watched Tiananmen Square on CNN. We had neighborhoods where during the day we could play kick-the-can, “guns” and all of the things that made us grow up. There was always that one “field” that could be used for either baseball, football, “runnin’ bases”, or just a place to hang out. That was my field of dreams Mr. Costner. At night we would play flashlight tag. Just like we could trick-or-treat at night without the fear of being shot and killed. Just like our guns had caps or “lasers”. If we didn’t have the Jessie James guns we could just get a rock and smash the caps on the ground! We loved the orange race tracks…that was until our mother realized she could smack us with them. We were the kids that not only collected Cabbage Patch kids, but their ugly off-spring-Garbage Pail Kids. We too collected football and baseball cards but it was because we wanted to be the first in the neighborhood to have the “complete” set.
Sports were important, but not near as important as Friday/Saturday Night’s Main Event with all of our favorite WWF wrestlers. (Remember Bob Backlund and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka?) We loved to imitate their moves…until someone got hurt. In our neighborhoods we played with He-man and Skelator.
Going to get a Happy Meal on Saturday with dad or mom was worth waiting the other six days of the week. No, we are the furthest thing from a lost generation. Does going to arcades on Saturday, getting carpooled to football with your best friend, eating fruit roll-ups, having birthday parties at McDonalds or Godfather’s pizza or Noble Romans where you could make your own pizza express you are lost? How many people melted their army figures that were given to them by their parents. Was Green Lantern the Coolest Super Hero or Aquaman? “Wonder twin powers activate!”
How’s about coming home at night after Halloween and separating your candy into: The cool stuff, the homemade stuff, and the pennies. How about the candy that came in that awful orange and black wax paper? (I think they were called Mary Janes.) Do you remember the one house that had a sign in the candy bowl that said, “take One.” How many did you take if you liked it? Were you desperate one year and as a teenager you trick-or-treated? Our generation had character and heart. We played with real baseballs. “Hey, my mom will take if your mom picks up!” Could you ever really beat Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Did you have sliced oranges or grapes for your half-time treat? How about the hot dog and coke after each football and baseball games? Star Crunches? Whippy Dip? Twinkies? Ho-Hos? This is what WE are all about!
So if you are reading this and it ALL hits home then you do indeed have a heritage or a generation. This is what makes us the most unique generation of all.
Please pass this on to all who can relate!