Lessons I Learned From Growing Up In The ’80s

For us children of the eighties, the upcoming years (and perhaps most recent ones) mark an important milestone: the dreaded, amazing, awful, wonderful, scary, liberating 4-0.

It’s hard to believe that the decade of Pogo Balls and leg warmers was so long ago.

Glo Worms, we hardly knew ye.

Still, the number of years that sits between us and parachute pants has done little to dent the impact that the eighties had on those who witnessed them through the eyes of youth. They were rad. They were awesome. They were far out. But, mostly, they were weird, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.

It turns out, there were also years we might have been doing all wrong. So, hop on your skateboard (no helmet required!) while we take a roll down memory lane.

And consider:

What we were afraid of:

Killer bees. Those mofos were flying in from Mexico or Canada or wherever at any moment. And we were certain they would kill us all.

What we should have been afraid of:

Lunch meat. We were on a first name basis with bologna and we ate it. Like, a lot. And now it’s apparently a carcinogen. So that’s freaking fantastic.

What we were collecting:

Garbage Pail Kids. We kept stacks inside our dresser drawers, such wholesome cards as Oozy Suzie and Up Chuck. The gum was an added bonus. Its staleness assured hours of chewing fun.

What we should have been collecting:

Star Wars action figures that we never took out of the box. Because not being able to actually open a brand new toy is every child’s dream.

What we were buying:

Cigarettes – Grandma sent us into 7-11 unaccompanied to get her cartons of Benson and Hedges.

What we should have been buying:

Squeezits – we could have hoarded them for when production so painfully ceased.

What we were wearing:

Aqua Net. Grade school popularity was tied directly to the height of our bangs.

What we should have been wearing:

Sunscreen with an SPF higher than 2.

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Why we were mad at our parents:

They wouldn’t buy us a Mogwai.

Why we should have been mad at our parents:

They let us wear shoulder pads to the family portrait at Sears.

What frustrated us:

The local deejay always interrupting as we tried to tape New Kids on the Block and Milli Vanilli off the radio. The Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker never having enough syrup. Wanting so badly to touch the middle of a floppy disk and knowing that doing so would end humanity.

What should have frustrated us:

The game Simon. That’s how carpal tunnel became a thing.

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What we wanted to drive:

KITT, a DeLorean, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

What we should have wanted to drive:

Nothing. Empty handlebars and a friend with strong leg muscles could take us anywhere we needed to go.

What we asked Santa for:

The giant train from Silver Spoons.

What we should have asked Santa for:

An actual silver spoon. Silver’s a good investment.

What we wanted to be:

A Barbizon model.

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What we should have wanted to be:

A giant nerd totally into computers. It’s pretty much a guarantee of success later in life.

What we were perfecting:

The art of prank calling. I was always too much of a wuss to prank anyone, but I’d laugh in the background like a boss while my friends did it.

What we should have been perfecting:

Texting. Sure, no one except Zack Morris actually had a cellphone, but we could have prepared for the future by strengthening our fingers with one of those grip exercisers that everyone’s dad owned.

What we were memorizing:

The lines from The Breakfast Club.

What we should have been memorizing:

The lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby.” Though technically a 1990 release, when you can sing along to all the words in a car full of people – well, that’s just fun for everyone.

What we were proud to own:

A VCR. My parents still have one of the first ever made. It’s so heavy that I can’t even lift it.

What we should have been proud to own:

A record player. The older LPs get, the cooler they become.

What we were putting on everything:

Ranch dressing.

What we should have been putting on everything:

Ranch dressing. Ranch dressing for-freaking-ever!

What we were playing:

The Oregon Trail.

What we should have been playing:

A game that didn’t convince every third grader that they were dying of cholera (or maybe that was just me).

What we were learning:

That Control, Open Apple, Delete solved all the world’s problems.

What we should have been learning:

That Pluto was a giant poser, merely pretending to be a planet when it was really just Mickey’s dog.

What we were watching:

Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Who’s the Boss.

What we should have been watching:

Punky Brewster. I was obsessed with this show. Had I known it would only be on for a few seasons, I would have watched it four times a day instead of a measly three.

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Who we had on our walls:

Kirk Cameron, Tom Cruise, Malcom-Jamal Warner.

Who we should have had on our walls:

Punky Brewster…..duh!

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