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[December, 1989] The End of the 80’s As We Know It

December 21, 2009 4 comments

 

May the new decade bring better fashion and music choices.

12/31/89

Dear Journal,

New Years Eve!!

I can’t wait until later tonight! I am going to my cousins house for a party. (Anna’s)

Yesterday Mitchell didn’t call me so I went shopping and got these amazing “New Kids on the Block” jeans! They are so cool! I absolutely love them! Later!

This is quite possibly the only time the words “New Kids on the Block” and “so cool” were used in the same sentence together.

As a new decade was about to dawn on us, did I take those last moments to reflect on the last ten colorful years? Did I ponder what the dawn of the 1990’s might bring? No and no. Instead I enthused over a pair of acid washed pants with airbrushed graffiti on them spelling out “New Kids on the Block” in bubble letters down one of the legs and the band members down the other. (I have scoured the Internet looking for a comparable photo, but there isn’t one, which can only mean they were one of a kind. Thank heavens for that.)

I could try to defend myself by saying that not hearing from Mitchell caused some sort of fashion temporary insanity. Because there’s retail therapy and then there’s retail suicide. The truth is, I was briefly a fan of this boy band (Joey was my favorite, in case you’re wondering, which you probably aren’t). My taste in music and clothing would take another few years to improve, but at least I ended the decade on a sufficiently tacky and colorful note.

As for the end of the 80’s, I always thought I was born ten years too late. While I was blessed with some fantastic cartoons and sit-coms (Thundercats, Jem & The Holograms, The Facts of Life, Perfect Strangers, Diff’rent Strokes… my definition of “fantastic” is probably not the same as yours), I missed out on a lot of the pop culture being so young. Sure, I had the enormous hair and wore enough shoulderpads to stand in for a quarterback, but I never got to get tarted up like Lucky-Star-era Madonna back then. Wearing fingerless lace gloves a decade later just wasn’t the same. And sure, in recent years I ended up seeing a lot of the new wave and post-punk bands I was too young to appreciate back then (Pet Shop Boys, Sisters of Mercy, Duran Duran, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Human League, etc.) but it would have been really special to see them in their heyday.

I think a lot of people feel out of time in their era. I was a reluctant participant of the 90’s and will always feel like I was stuck with a bum decade to come of age in. And as a another new decade is about to roll in I can’t imagine what kids growing up today will contend with. All I can wonder is whether we’ll ever get those damn flying cars.

In the meantime, I hope somebody out there is tinkering with and putting the finishing touches on a time machine that will one day let me return to the 1980’s and experience it in person again, this time as an adult. I’m sure I’ve glamorized that time period far too much in my mind, and maybe it’s best left in those nostalgic corners. Still, a girl can hold out hope.

[December, 1989] Beaches and Other Scary Movies

December 1, 2009 10 comments

 

(spoiler alert: one of them doesn't make it)

12/15/89

Dear Journal,

I just (well a few hours ago.) saw the movie “beaches” again and it was really sad at the end. It’s about this friendship that these two girls have and one of them dies at the end (that’s why it’s so sad). It got me thinking about friendship and how I would feel if one of my good (or even best!) friends died. I would be so depressed and miserable, I don’t know what I would do.

Well let’s move on to a happier subject. Like my date with Mitch (which is tomorrow by the way.) I hope it goes all right.

Also my birthday is coming up and my party is going to have a horror theme. We are going to see a horror movie then tell ghost stories, have some food then play with my Ouija board.

In case it’s still not clear, it’s sad because of the death in the movie. Of the friend. At the end.

Ah, Beaches. For those not up on their chick flicks, Bette Midler plays a bold and brassy gal (I know, so very unlike her other characters) who forges a lifelong friendship with a sensible and cautious gal (Barbara Hershey). What could they possibly have in common, you ask? Well, not a whole lot, but you know what they say about opposites (“they,” in the late 80’s, being Paula Abdul and a  cartoon cat). There’s fighting, singing, crying, dying, and more crying. All to the tune of a soundtrack sung by the Diving Miss M herself, who made us take stock and ask who the wind beneath our wings might be. Despite its somber conclusion, the film has moments of levity, plus plenty of shoulder pads, big hair, and a musical sequence about the invention of the bra (you owe it to yourself to hear “Otto Titsling” at least once in your life if you never have).

To me, Beaches is a scary movie because it shows the fragility of friendship and of life itself. However, others out there might consider it  to be a horror movie because of  its abundance of female emotion and sentimentality. Either way, it was not part of my impending birthday’s theme.

As I previously mentioned, my parents let me immerse myself in all kinds of media related to paranormal phenomena, but they didn’t let me watch scary movies. Nothing with Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers or anything of that ilk. Initially they forbade horror movies until I was 13, but decided to loosen up and end the moratorium a year early. Clearly, I decided to really run with the theme.

What better way to celebrate the anniversary of your birth than seeing a bunch of people die onscreen, tell stories about dead people, and then try to actually talk to dead people using a toy/instrument of the occult? Sounds like my idea of a good time!

[September, 1989] Great, Cute, and Fabulous

November 4, 2009 1 comment

9/26/89

Dear Journal,

School’s great and me and Elaine are starting the cool group.

Also, Mitchell is cute.

Also, Mrs. Angelo (our music teacher) is doing this play thingie that I’m auditioning for.  I’m dying to get a solo.

Also Friday I went to a Debbie Gibson concert and it was fabulous!

Well I guess that wraps it up. —Bye—

Debbie-Gibson live

I wanted this entire outfit in 1989. Instead, I just got the hat.

What more does an 11-year-old in 1989 need to be happy? Cool group in progress? Check. Cute boy in class? Check. Audition for a musical (or “play thingie”) in which I might get a solo? Check. Debbie Gibson concert? Double check!

I didn’t write about the concert at length (probably to save blank pages for mooning over crushes and ranting about friends who done me wrong), but I loved the show. My parents took me to see her in Madison Square Garden, and I couldn’t believe how many thousands (!) of people came to the show. Our seats were pretty far back, but as soon as the music started I forgot the distance between the three of us and the stage. Debbie’s silhouette appeared behind a white screen and the crowd went wild (seven years later, when seeing Nine Inch Nails live, I would be reminded of this concert when Trent Reznor did the same thing, only tore through the screen).

Considering that Debbie Gibson released only two albums at that point, I’m pretty sure she played all my favorite songs. When she finished the last song, my parents and I got up to leave and were surprised when the music started up again a few minutes later. Both my parents had been professional musicians, but it took Debbie Gibson to teach us how to do a proper encore.

The most surprising thing about that night was how much my brooding and difficult-to-please father enjoyed the concert. Despite being critical of much of the music I listened to (especially from the teen years onward), he found Gibson to be a talented singer and was impressed with her live performance. He spoke of that Debbie Gibson show well into his later life and every time he did, a look of surprised wonder always came over him.

[September, 1989] The Cool Group

November 2, 2009 5 comments

9/12/89

Dear Journal,

Second day of school, I got the Blob (Mrs. Feinstein). She’s o.k.

Nisa’s a BITCH!

She’s a f@#in’ $%HOLE. I saw her the first day of school and ignored her. Now she’s getting the hint and ignoring me. GOOD! I’m glad we are in separate classes. Rose is also in another class but it’s not that bad.

Since Elaine and me are in the same class we have to start the cool group.

I think Penny should be in it. Also Chen-chi. I’m not sure about Yanmei. (she should kinda clean up her act.)

Mitchell got a new hair-style and looks cool. Gotta go. —Bye—

being cool 1980s-fashion

Are you cool enough for our group?

I haven’t the foggiest idea what inspired such vitriol towards Nisa, the girl I considered my elementary school best friend.  Maybe it had something to do with her mother. The important thing is that I had enough strength and courage remaining to start “the cool group.”

If you have to ask what the qualifies one for being in the cool group, you probably aren’t cool enough to be in it. Also, I don’t remember the criteria Elaine and I set. Having big hair and awesome clothes probably had something to do with it.  Being smart was cool, but being a nerd was not. There were probably other guidelines, which evidently Yanmei was falling short of (poor Yanmei).

In case you’re wondering, no, I can’t recall what the fringe benefits of being in “the cool group” were. Probably just a sense of clueless superiority over the other sixth graders.

[July, 1989] First Date

October 27, 2009 6 comments

7/20/89

Dear Journal,

Francis asked me out!

One of his friends is coming but I don’t mind.

We are going to the movies and they will pick me up.

I’m going tomorrow. I can’t wait.

[Addendum, no date] The date was great

"It's not exactly a normal world, is it?"

"It's not exactly a normal world, is it?"

I was so thrilled to be asked out on a date by a boy I liked that I didn’t question the fact that he brought a friend along.

For some reason my parents did not find it dubious either, and let me see a Saturday matinee of Batman with these two.

I wore what I thought was a terribly cool outfit: a neon green t-shirt and matching short pants with a   pattern of abstract tribesmen across the hem and pant cuffs. Crimped hair and big plastic earrings were undoubtedly involved. Possibly some bangle bracelets, too.

I don’t remember anything about Francis’ friend or what the three of us talked about on the walk to the theater. At the movies, I was so nervous, I said yes to everything the boys asked. Did I want a soda? Popcorn? A hotdog? Yes, yes, and yes (it was the first and only time I ate a hotdog at the movies).

I was blown away by Tim Burton’s vision of Batman, and went to see it a second time with my parents. Later on I got a Batman t-shirt and listened to the soundtrack by Prince ad nauseam. A local video store had a Batman pinball machine and I spent many hours hunched over it that summer, playing badly.

As for the rest of the date, after the movie, the boys walked me home and I never saw either of them again. I always wondered if it was because I said yes to that hotdog.

[June, 1989] Blonde Ambition

October 12, 2009 5 comments

6/9/89

Dear Journal,

Yesterday I went shopping and got these cool bangles and earings, plus Sun In. It turns your hair lighter with the sun.

Art by DoA

Art by DoA

How I loved being a child of the 1980s. The music, the movies, the fashion, and of course, the hair.

The only thing I didn’t love was how young I was at the time, and therefore how limited I was in my hair experimentation. It took ages just to convince Mom to let me use hairspray, though once I got the green light I used enough Aqua Net to make my bangs virtually bulletproof. Crimping was also okay, but I had yet to convince her to allow me to get a perm. (My hair was pin-straight as a kid and I was desperate for it to be curly. Today, my hair has a natural wave to it and and I blow dry and flatiron it straight. Why are human beings so contrary???)

Bleaching or dying my hair was out of the question, but luckily Sun-In was allowed. Plain old lemon juice was never effective at lightening my hair in the summertime, but this stuff did the trick. Whenever we’d go to the beach, Mom would allow me to spray a moderate amount of this seemingly-magical concoction into my hair, and after a day of roasting outside, my naturally dirty blonde hair would have more golden highlights.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that every time Mom was distracted I’d sneak in a few extra sprays. I figured the blonder the better. I don’t know how it worked, but Sun-In did harness the sun’s power to lighten hair, at the cost of giving it a straw-like consistency, especially when sprayed in great quantities (what was the point of using only a little bit and getting a subtle effect?). Between the Sun-In, the crimping iron, and the hairspray, it was a wonder that I didn’t have a mane like Tina Turner or the Cowardly Lion, and that I didn’t fry  all the hair on my preteen head.

In retrospect, I think Mom was pretty cool to allow me to torture my hair within the boundaries she had set. While I was still eager for more extreme chemical transformation to my tresses, for the time being I was happier being a little bit blonder.

[September, 1988] Great Dresser

September 1, 2009 2 comments

9-28-88

Dear Journal,

I still have my eye on Charles, in other words I still have a crush on him and I still think he is very cute. He’s a great dresser and he has a nice personaloty, yesterday he even talked to me! I definitely hope he asks me out, it would be like a dream come true.

"Does this neon top make my hair look big?"

"Does this neon top make my hair look big?"

While I was well aware that my journal was an inanimate object, I addressed it like a person, which I understand. What I don’t understand is why I addressed it like a stupid person and felt a need to spell out my crush on Charles, despite not being able to spell words like “personality.”

Though let’s face it, this Charles fellow sounds like quite the catch, no? Not only is he attractive and pleasant, but according to my report he also has a wardrobe that passes muster with my discerning tastes. And I considered myself quite the fashion authority back then, being in possession of such stylish items as tiger-print Spandex leggings, pre-shredded acid-washed denim shorts, and enough tops with shoulder pads to outfit several football teams. And did I mention the neon?

I don’t remember a single outfit Charles wore, but I do remember he had poufy hair. As did many (most?) of us back then. With all his positive traits, I knew something must be done to catch the attention of this Charles character, something that would involve more than crimping my hair and using extra hairspray. I was on the verge of hatching just the right plan…

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