Meredith C. Carroll: Back when life was totally rad
Maybe it’s because I just filed my taxes. Or perhaps it’s because I finally figured out after almost a month of trying to replace the batteries in the smoke detector that it doesn’t have any (who’s ever heard of a hard-wired fire alarm system?). Either way, my birthday is around the corner, and although I’m now just a year and 13 days away from being smack in the middle of my 30s, I couldn’t be happier.Most generations likely regard theirs as superior to those that came before and after, and I’m certainly no exception. Were I any younger or older, I would have missed out on the distinct privilege of growing up in the 1980s.Lately, I often find myself lying awake at night worrying about the war on terror, nuclear tension in North Korea and genocide in Darfur. It is at those moments that I long for the 80s, at which time my worst fears were getting stuck in the USSR without a passport (and potentially having my nonexistent ballet talents exploited, along with those of a defected U.S. tap dancer, à la Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines in “White Knights”), wondering if the starving kids in Ethiopia had record players to listen to “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” and fretting about whether I’d have to switch to Coke if it ultimately prevailed in the Pepsi Challenge.
In the 80s, senior citizens agonized most about falling and not getting up without the assistance of electronic monitoring necklaces. Now aging baby boomers and Gen Xers ponder the collective nightmare of a vanishing Social Security system, phishing scams and the plague that will inevitably befall the universe if the e-mail promising a cash reward from Microsoft and the Gap isn’t forwarded to 15 friends in 15 minutes.Back in the 80s, the buzz was all about finding the beef. These days, everyone and his life coach is concerned with how the beef is bred, whether its livings conditions are cruelty-free, its diet organic and the method of its demise humane before it gets served as a portion the size of a deck of cards on a trans-fat free, low-carb whole wheat bun in a recyclable non-Styrofoam takeout container.I used to read fan magazines in the 80s featuring articles on my childhood crush, Ricky Schroder, who spent his days riding around the set of “Silver Spoons” in a train on the living room floor surrounded by arcade-size video games, and his nights in a real life-size race car bed.
Present-day articles about him appeal to me – not as much – including ones about how he can’t seem to stop impregnating his wife unless it’s because he needs to make an appearance at a Republican convention or take time out of his day to renew his membership to the NRA. However, should the Ricker ever find himself breaking into a moonwalk with Alfonso Ribeiro once again, I’ll be all over that like the green slime on a pre-adolescent Alanis Morissette on “You Can’t Do That on Television.” It was in the 80s when it was somewhat plausible that there was once a time when Madonna could have been like a virgin. When there was no reason to snicker when Michael Jackson sang, “Beat It.” When “The Morning After” referred to a movie my parents wouldn’t let me see, not the pill that is currently a less than polite discussion topic at the dinner table. When the only hidden cameras that were talked about had been planted not by our own government, but by commercial producers who had secretly replaced the fine coffee usually served with Folgers Crystals.The 80s were when the first time was a charm for skinny jeans, leg warmers and ballet flats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, big hair, Don Johnson and George Bush (41). When the biggest scandal to hit a presidential candidate was the photo of a woman sitting on his knee. When leading religious figures were accused of having sex with women (not men). When crack was wack, reading was fundamental, fools were pitied and just saying no was enough to earn approval from a First Lady.
Those from the Greatest Generation, the Swinging 60s or the Dot Com 90s might not agree, but there was no better time to grow up than the 80s. I’d bet my Cabbage Patch dolls on it.Aspen resident Meredith C. Carroll writes a Friday column. E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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