A few days ago, my 14-year-old son happened to see some photos from my youth. As he gazed upon his mother in all her big haired, acid washed glory, he said, “Did you guys know you looked kinda crazy back then? Or did you really think all that was totally normal?”
“Not only did we think we looked normal,” I answered, “but we were pretty sure we looked wicked awesome.”
And how wicked awesome were we, really? Shoulder pads, blue mascara, leg warmers. I mean, the hits just kept coming. The funny thing is, I vividly remember looking at pictures of my own parents in the 1960s and thinking the same thing my son thinks now: how in the world could they walk around like that all day?
So the baton has been passed. I’m getting old. And one of the benefits of age is the right to annoy the younger generation by waxing nostalgic. Want to join me?
Wicked Awesome Music: Generally speaking, I was a Depeche Mode / Erasure / Oingo Boingo kind of girl, but nothing beat a sappy 80s love song when it came time to pair off at the stake dance. There’s something about the earnest, unabashed, completely non-ironic balladeering by grown men who also considered themselves rock stars that still melts my heart. Brett Michaels in all his haired-out glory reminding us that “just like every cowboy / sings his sad, sad song / every rose has its thorn”? That’s romance, friends.
One particular stake dance ballad memory: Remember “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago? (We 14-year-olds really knew what Peter Cetera was singing about when he proclaimed, “Everybody needs a little time away . . .”, right?) Anyway, there’s a version of that song where “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” segues directly into a more upbeat, saxophone-driven ditty called “Get Away,” and time and time again the DJs at the stake dances and high school stomps would play that version. I remember starting out the song positioned with my partner in the standard bear-hug sway (can you smell the Drakkar Noir?), but then, three minutes in, the song’s tempo would completely change and I’d be left with a potentially humiliating decision: keep bear hug swaying? Break away and start doing the white-girl-fast-song-boogie? Simply stop dancing and wander back to my clutch of 14-year-old girlfriends? Oh, the anxiety! Anyone else remember the perils of slow dancing to this particular song, or is it seared into my memory alone?
Wicked Awesome Fashion: We all know about 80s hair. As a resident of Salt Lake City’s west side (I went to high school in Magna), we took our hair height very, very seriously. One hair accessory was particularly effective in creating the most awesome amount of swoop-and-poof possible (given the collective understanding of the laws of physics at the time, plus Aqua Net Extra Super Hold). The banana clip was an invention of its time. Never before — and dare I say, never again? — will women young and old have the singular pleasure of pulling their hair back so tight that their eyes slanted upward, then curling individual hair tendril after individual hair tendril into a perfect curly spiral, as glorious as a (permed) horse’s mane. Girls of the current generation with their “straight hair” and “no bangs” have no idea the levels of skill and commitment required for even a rudimentary mastery of the art of 80s hair. No. Idea.
Wicked Awesome Mormonism: This last Sunday our ward had our fast and testimony meeting (we had stake conference on the first Sunday of the month), and due to scheduling constraints a missionary getting ready to leave for the MTC on Wednesday had to squeeze his “farewell” talk into the first ten minutes of the meeting. It was nice. He’s a great kid, and I’m sure he’ll be a wonderful missionary. But ten minutes? At the beginning of fast and testimony meeting? Loooong gone are the extravaganzas that were 80s-style missionary farewells. Back in the day the missionary’s mother would plan those sacrament meetings months in advance and send out invitations. Siblings would speak. Best friends. (My husband’s best friend quoted Sting, and I shall never forget it.) I remember farewells with two or three musical numbers: choruses of cousins singing “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission,” a misty-eyed girlfriend warbling “In the Hollow of Thy Hand.” Fathers struggling to keep composure while recounting their sons’ sports triumphs; mothers sobbing through their goodbyes. The pathos! The drama! Not to mention the fact that the meeting almost always went long, which meant Sunday school would be cut short or even canceled . . . not that we were planning to go to Sunday School anyway, since we all intended to bolt straight out the door for the Elder’s house for hours of feasting on mini eclairs and homemade Orange Juliuses.
Yes, those were the days.
And I’ve waxed on long enough. (Mr. Miyagi would tell me it’s time to wax off. The 80s references can’t quit!)
What are your best 80s memories? Fashion, music, movies, Mormonism? Let’s moonwalk down memory lane together.