On Wednesday my writing group’s prompt was listed as “Generation” – it’s much more specific than that – and the two women who lead the group are great in giving you enough structure with also enough open-endedness – and then offering up their own version of a response to the prompt. I wasn’t able to connect with it right away – until I saw my fellow writers posting reminisces of their childhood… Ohhh yes!
The ’70s – remember them? Me neither – not specifically, at least – but photo proof shows that my dear mother dressed me in head-to-toe polyester… Of course, I do remember playing outside, making mud pies, climbing so far up the pine tree in the backyard that my dad had to come and help me get down, still dressed in his suit from work, adventuring to a creek (said “crik”) beside the Country Club a street over where surely there were talking animals and flitting fairies. I remember daydreaming – sitting high up in that tree and imagining that I was a panther and staying up there to avoid being swallowed up by the lava flowing past (the logic that the tree would be destroyed by lava did not enter there).
We had one tv in the house then – in my parents’ bedroom. My younger sister and I would go into their bedroom and watch tv while either laying on the end of their bed, or sitting on the floor at its end, with our backs leaning up against it. We’d all watch movies together – like the once a week Disney movie which was preceded by the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Happy Days, Gilligan’s Island, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, the Three’s Company, Different Strokes, The Jeffersons, Knight Rider, (my mom’s favorite) Magnum PI, and cartoons aplenty… As we got older, my parents put a big tv – one of those ones that was like a piece of furniture in fake wood – in the converted basement where Jill and I could hang out with our friends (out of the way, but not too far to check on). MTV, In Living Color, A-Team, Miami Vice, Facts of Life, Cosby Show, Charles in Charge, Family Ties, Growing Pains, and of course, the after-school specials (which now remind me of Lifetime movies, but for the pre-teen set).
And who can forget (if you were a kid or teen then) spending hours and hours on the phone? I would call one of my friends from the upstairs hallway (by then my parents had also fixed up the attic and converted it to two bedrooms and a bathroom so that Jillian and I had some of our own space (and my parents had some peace)) and lay on the floor talking about boys and girls and dating and evil teachers and unfair parents and …all of life’s most important things. I remember almost getting to know some people’s families through the telephone – you’d get to know their voices and some of them would chat with you a little.
Oh yeah – and writing and passing notes! We’d be in school and writing notes to one another and then folding them – just SO – and sometimes slipping them to a friend, sometimes tossing them, sometimes trusting another person to pass it along (which sometimes did NOT work out). “Relationships” lasted days…sometimes hours. You could be going out without talking – just his friend tells your friend that he wants to “go out” and you agree, through your friend…. and then maybe, maybe, you actually go somewhere, though usually you talked on the phone or in the hallway. You might meet up at the mall – of course you and your gang of friends would go up and meet up with him and his gang of friends. In junior high, which was only 7th and 8th grade at that time, we’d have dances that our parents seemed to take great delight in chaperoning and I don’t think I ever saw Sr. Pat with a ruler, but there were lots of rumors about her making you stand just so far apart by holding up a ruler between your bodies. Before the dances we’d all go to McDonald’s or Pizza Hut just down the street and generally be teenage nuisances – yes, eating and spending money, but also throwing food at each other and talking too loudly, laughing too loudly, leaving a mess. (Good times!)
Fashion was… well, it was the ’80s, man. BIG HAIR!!! Yes, we permed our hair or played up our natural curls and then used mouse and curling irons, etc. to try to get our bangs to peaks of horizontal lift, which we cemented (or attempted to) in place with lots of Aqua Net. I remember spraying that huge green and silver can in the bus, alongside my friends, and there being a sticky sweet piney smelling miasma lingering in the air. We wore perfumes like Skin, and Love’s Baby Soft – later perfumes with musk and white jasmine in them. We used Cover Girl eye shadows in pastel rainbows, Bonne Belle lip glosses, etc. I remember having pin-striped jeans (one had tiny stripes in light purple), acid washed jeans, tons of Gap tops and sweaters…
More later – I’ve got to go find some Madonna and Paula Abdul to jam out to!