A Recollection of my 80s Past…
If you watched the 2016 Summer Olympics, then you probably saw the fast food commercial depicting the differences between the childhood of a boy in the 1980s and the childhood of a girl today with a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” playing in the background (If you missed it, you can watch it here).
In the end, the two turn out to be father and daughter. I suppose the purpose of the commercial is to show that parents want to give their kids everything they didn’t have as children, but the first time I saw it, I didn’t quite see it that way. Instead, what I saw was all of the things we as 80s kids missed out on that our kids have today. So, I compiled a list of ways 80s kids missed out, time after time.
I’m going to start with the image that affected me the most from this commercial and pretty much gave me the idea to write this post. And that is the fact that we were not required to wear helmets while riding our bikes in the 80s. Nope, no helmet – just riding free and if you fall, oh well, you’ll be fine. Thanks Mom and Dad for protecting my head from the concrete. Well, that explains a lot…
Speaking of which…
2. Seat Belts
So, we had seat belts, but we didn’t have to wear them, especially not in the back of the car. In fact, before front seat belt laws were passed in the early 80s, kids could sit in the passenger seat with no belt, let alone a car seat. Car what? Sorry, I’m busy lying down across the back seat of the car. Or better yet, I’m sitting on my dad’s lap while he’s driving so I can learn stick shift. Oh, I mean I’m straddled on the hump on the floor in the back because there are five of us trying to fit in here. No wait, I’m riding in the bed of the pick up truck – STANDING UP! Yup, we did all of these things in the 80s and no one batted an eye. Thanks again Mom and Dad for looking out for my safety.
3. High Index Lenses
I think the pictures say enough, but in case you need more convincing, just know that these monstrosities scarred me for life. Seriously, like I think there are indentations along my cheekbones…
Needless to say, I’ll never forget when my eye doctor gave me the green light to start wearing contacts. Oh joyous day! 🙂 And even though I now have high index lenses, I only wear my glasses before bed…to get from the bathroom to my bed safely after taking out my contacts.
4. Costumes as Clothes
When I was a kid in the 80s, the only time it was acceptable to dress up like a princess or superhero was for Halloween. These days, wearing costumes as clothes has become the norm. Today, you can find Batman, Superman, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty gliding down the slide at the playground, rummaging through the cereal aisle at the grocery store or even sitting next to you at the movie theater.
Well kids, don’t be surprised when you spot me in the checkout line sporting my fairy wings and waving my magic wand…wait, what do you mean it’s not real and it WON’T really make the line shorter? Ugh! Moving on…
5. Mobile Phones
For obvious reasons, mobile phones have made both kids’ and parents’ lives much easier. I remember waiting for my parents to come home and wondering (I mean worrying) where they were and thinking terrible things had happened to them. Once, I even called my aunt and told her they were gone without a trace. She got in her car and came right over only to find they were at the neighbors’ house. She wasn’t too happy with me but if I only had a cell phone…
I wanted to have a T-shirt made for them that said, “It’s 10 pm. Do you know where my parents are?”
6. The Internet
Listen up there sonny. Wait, let me grab my cane…When I was in school, you know, way back in the ninth decade of the 20th century, we got our information from books. There was no Google to tell us how to make fried chicken or what the fox said. Instead, we had to trek our little tushies down to the…gasp…PUBLIC LIBRARY! Oh, the horror! The inhumanity! But wait, some of us were lucky enough to have our own collection of overpriced mail order encyclopedias that were outdated by the time we received them and our parents are still paying for…
So, my kids are obsessed with these YouTube shows where kids (and adults) play with toys. They even have their own show, The Hearty Smarty Sisters. But enough about them, this IS about me, remember?
Guess what people! I INVENTED TOY SHOWS! Yup, it’s true, and I can prove it. I have a plethora of cassette tapes (yes, I said cassette) in which I recorded myself playing with toys in the 80s.
Just listen to this “jem” of a masterpiece:
Here’s a visual in case you need it…
I’m telling you, if we only had YouTube, I could have been a star. But you know what they say, video did kill the radio star…Ugh! Bummer!
Back to the Future
Looking back, maybe 80s kids didn’t have safe bike riding laws or access to information overload 24 hours a day, but there are things we DID have that we will never forget: Roller skating to freestyle music, handwriting notes to pass to our friends instead of texting, guessing our favorite song lyrics (mostly incorrectly) since we couldn’t look them up online, waiting for hours for our favorite song to play on the radio since streaming music didn’t exist, playing pinball at the arcade and not on an electronic gaming device and lastly, just playing with our friends whenever we wanted without an appointment.
And now, a word from Mr. 80s DJ: