Ah, the 80’s. They were a time in my life that brought so much remembered change. They seemed to last forever. (Insert Bryan Adam’s Summer of 69 here). From 1979 and having braless nub-boobs to 1989 when I was old enough to drink 3.2 beer legally. Good times.
1980-1982: Middle school. Puberty. My last year of summer camp. Shoelaces with hearts on them, feathered Farrah hair, and braces. Relationships in the early 80’s were defined by “going with,” as in “they’re going together” and “will you go with me?” We were cool. Well, the people who were going with somebody were cool. I, on the other hand, wasn’t going with anybody but in my fantasies, crushing on a boy named T.J., who was happy to copy my homework but never did ask me to go with him. It may have been due to my heart-patterned shoelaces but was more likely due to the fact that I was grounded for half the year. Back then, nobody had caller ID or *69. Very few people had call waiting. In fact, I remember when my friend Gillian got call waiting and we’d be talking and I’d push the four and six button together so she’d think she had another call. I swear that I used to do that to her like 20 times in a conversation and she never caught on.
Oh! Right. Grounded. Prank calls were much easier then. One night, my friend Gillian and I made one that went quite wrong. I won’t bore you with the details but it involved two families, late-night door-banging, a shotgun and some pissed off parents. Nobody was hurt but the police got involved and in spite of trying to lie my way out of it, my friend Gillian and I were busted. I was grounded for months.
Months and months with nothing to do but work my ass off in the yard (my dad believed in hard labor as punishment for our sins and got a free two-tiered garden area built from railroad ties due to our forced labor) and listen to music. Tainted Love. Another One Bites the Dust. Hungry Like The Wolf. Ah those Duran Duran dweebs. I can’t believe I thought they were sexy.
When I grew tired of actual music, I had The Pushbutton Telephone Songbook. It provided the order of numbers to push in order to play classics like Oh, Susanna to your friends. I still have it, see? The fact that the types of phones that this works on no longer exist is of no importance – this book and I had hours of fun together and I’m never giving it up. Ever.
Man, the 80’s were long, people. In 1985, I got my driver’s license and sadly did not receive a Sweet 16 car as a gift and had to resort to begging my dad to drive his Scout International. Every once in a while, my mom let me take her 280ZX. It had t-tops, which were the perfect method for showing the world just how cool we were by blasting Howard Jones’ What is Love, Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night and Round and Round by Ratt.
I’m quite sure my neighbors were hanging out thinking “oh that girl is so cool in her pink Reeboks, blue eye shadow, a billion Material Girl bracelets, Forenza neon sweater and jeans that zipped at the ankle with scrunchy socks worn over them” and not “that Rieger girl is the most annoying fucking teenager I’ve ever come across.”
Later, because my dad liked my brother Tom more than he liked me, he bought “us” a Ford Fairmont. He got it at a government auction because it had previously been owned by the government. It was durable and all that, but OMG was that car one ugly piece of shit. And, it was decorated – by my brother- with uber-classy bumper stickers such as this one:
If a person pulled up on the door handle on the passenger side while it was locked (and this was when I still had to lean over and manually unlock the door so it was pretty much always locked), the door would stick. Passengers had to climb through the window.
One time, my friend Lesley’s boyfriend Jeff was in the back seat. He kept complaining that it was hot. He wouldn’t shut up about “dude, the seat is hot.” Rather than listening to his stupid stoned complaints, Lesley and I turned up the boom box sitting between us (the tape player in the actual car was broken) and listened to Tears for Fears. And Twisted Sister. Because, you know, we weren’t gonna take it.
When we stopped the car and Jeff got out, he kept rubbing his ass and complaining that it felt like it was on fire. After taking out his wallet and realizing that his license was soft from being partially melted, we looked under the seat. There was no insulation between the tail pipe and the actual seat. He really was almost on fire. Huh.
People sat back there anyway. Turns out 16-year olds will put up with a lot for a free ride.
As the 80’s and I grew up, I fell in love with a boy named Sean. The kind of love that my parents were afraid we’d run off and get married. He was monumental to me in the summer before I left for college. I may or may not have had sex in the mountains to this 80’s song:
I may or may not have done this:
Anyway. The 80’s. Friendship and high school and experimentation. Our songs were Shout! by Tears for Fears and Shell Shock by New Order (both seen live in concert by yours truly). Once I got to college, I played Shell Shock over and over and over again. The lyrics. So deep.
Hold on, it’s never enough
It’s never enough until’ your heart stops beating
The deeper you get, the sweeter the pain
Don’t give up the game until your heart stops beating
I loved that song so much that it eventually made its way onto my first self-purchased vehicle in the form of a license plate (that I still have). The (very) used 1984 CJ7 Renegade that I drove for 11 years until it caught on fire.
Oh, youth. There’s never enough.
Even though it’s totally random, I have to give a shout-out to my favorite (top 10) song of the 80’s which I wasn’t actually cool enough to listen to in the 80’s because my friend Lesley’s boyfriend at the time loved them and I couldn’t stand HIM. Amazing how people influence likes. The 80’s would not be the 80’s without One, by Metallica. Wow. Just wow. I’ve been to as many Metallica concerts as I have U2. They are the two bands I’ve seen more live than any others.
What were you doing in the 80’s? What were you listening to? I’m dying to know. I could write 100 blog posts on the 80’s. This has been inspired by my good friend Jen over at My Skewed View, who Einsteined this cool linkup party that features music. Join us. Music takes you back, in a way that not much else does.
SAPPY Editor’s note: I’ve been excited about this 80’s post all week. I’ve been excited to share the Government Mobile, my jeep, my stories and the music that I continue to love that came from the 80’s. But it’s also done something else. It’s made me relive memories from high school that may have otherwise been forgotten. It’s made me remember feeling like a loser, and a dork, and an awkward kid. Which, in many ways, I was. But I was also popular within my clan, smart, hopeful and beautiful in the way that only the young can be. It makes me feel sad that I didn’t cherish myself, my mind, and my body more back then. It also makes me realize that while nostalgic for my youth, that (hopefully), I will one day be nostalgic for my 40’s and look back on them and realize that the problems I have now, the wrinkles, the teeth that need fixing, the exercise that needs to happen…was also youth. I suppose my point is that it’s great to look back and miss your former me’s. But it’s even more important to love your me of now. To appreciate what strengths, abilities, looks and memories we make today. Today matters. All of them.