I've been feeling kind of nostalgic about the mid-'80s lately. Or maybe "nostalgic" is the wrong for it.
I haven't been idealizing those years in a cartoony Happy Days/That '70s Show kind of way. Most of it was way, way too boring for that. And I haven't been pining for it, either. I was a teenager at the time, so even when it wasn't boring, it was still excruciatingly awkward.
I think maybe I'm more curious than anything else. Looking back on those years last week, I tried to dredge up what it was like being me at the time. And I'm not so sure I got it right. Was I really the happy-go-lucky nerdling I made myself out to be?
Well, the nerd part would be easy enough to verify: All I'd have to do is crack open one of my high school yearbooks and look at my own picture. Which I'm wise enough in my dotage never to do.
But what about the happy-go-lucky? I remember being pretty miserable a lot of the time, actually. Especially if I had to go to school or church or the grocery store or the mall or...anywhere more than five yards from my bedroom or the TV, really. Even going out to get the mail was risky. I mean, somebody might see you out there....
Yet I always managed to make it out to the movies -- even if my excitement was tinged with terror because I was going to see Ghost Busters on a Friday night and there were going to be a lot of kids from school there. And you could actually coax me into the light of day to go to a book store or a comic book shop, too. Or a record store, though you'd have been lucky to find one in my old town that stocked anything other than Def Leppard and Stryper.
In a weird way, escapism -- the movies and books and comics and music -- was the only thing connecting me to the rest of humanity at all. Without it, I think I would've just found a nice, quiet spot in the basement and spent the tail end of the Reagan years collecting cobwebs.
So if I want to remember what life felt like for me back then -- want to recover my Lost Self like Indiana Jones digging up some ancient treasure -- there's really only one way to do it. And no, I'm not talking about hypnotic regression. Or borrowing a TARDIS. Or getting hit on the head by a falling flower pot, although that did seem to work in old movies sometimes.
No, the only time machine I need is pop culture...enhanced by a little Boone's Farm, maybe. Because that had its place back then, too.
At the top of my Netflix queue: Romancing the Stone.
Just ordered from eBay: Café Blue (a.k.a. My Ever Changing Moods).
On my bedside table: an '80s-era science fiction Best Of anthology.
And in my heart and head...well, we'll see....
The Wayback Machine's been set for 1984, gang. Better strap yourselves in.
May 8, 2008