We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s “lost generation.” In fact, we think we know just where we stand–or are discovering it as we speak. We are the ones who played with Lego Building Blocks when they were just building blocks and gave Malibu Barbie crewcuts with safety scissors that never really cut. We collected Garbage Pail Kids and My Little Ponies and Hot Wheels and He-Man action figures and thought She-Ra looked just like I would when
I was a woman. Big Wheels and bicycles with streamers were the way to go, and sidewalk chalk was all you needed to build a city.
Imagination was the key. It made the Ewok Treehouse big enough for you to be Luke (or Lea) and the kitchen table and an old sheet dark enough to be a tent in the forest. Your world was your backyard and it was all you needed. With your pink portable tape player, Debbie Gibson sang backup to you and everyone wanted a skirt like the Material Girl and a glove like
Michael Jackson’s. Today, we are the ones who sing along with Bruce Springsteen and the Bangles perfectly and have no idea why. We recite lines with the Ghostbusters and still look to The Goonies for a great adventure. We flip through TV stations and stop at the A-Team and Knight Rider and Fame and laugh with The Cosby Show and Family Ties and Punky Brewster and “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?” We hold strong affections for the Muppets and The Gummy Bears and why did they take the Smurfs off the air? After school specials were only about cigarettes and step-families, the Polka Dot Door was nothing like Barney, and aren’t the Power Rangers just Voltron reincarnated? We are the ones who still (secretly) read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, Richard Scarry and the Electric Company. Friendship bracelets were ties you couldn’t break and friendship pins went on shoes–preferably hightop velcro Reeboks. And pegged jeans were in, as were Units belts and layered socks and jean jackts and jams and charm mecklaces and sideponytails and just tails. Rave was a girl’s best friend; invisalign braces with colored rubber bands made you cool, visiting an orthodontics was a total pleasure. The backdoor was always open and Mom served only red Kool-aid to the neighborhood kids. Entertainment was cheap and lasted for hours. All you needed to be a princess was high heels and an apron; the Sit ‘n’ Spin made you dizzy but never made you stop. Pogoballs were dangerous weapons and Chinese Jump Ropes mever failed to trip someone. In your Underoos you were Wonder Woman or Spider Man or R2D2 and in your treehouse you were king.
In the Eighties, nothing was wrong. Did you know the President was shot? Star Wars was not only a movie. Did you ever play in a bomb shelter? Did you see the Challenger explode or feed the homeless man?
We forgot Vietnam and watched Tianenman Square on CNN and bought pieces of the Berlin Wall at the store. AIDS was not the number one killer in the United States. We didn’t start the fire, Billy Joel. In the Eighties, we redefined the American Dream, and those years defined us. We are the generation between strife and facing strife and not turning our backs. The Eighties may have been (scratch that) The Eighties may have made us idealistic, but it’s that idealism that will push us and be passed on the our children–the first children of the twenty-first century.
Never forget: we are the children of the Eighties. If this is familiar, you are one of us…pass it on to all the others…