Re-Living the ’80s…Sort Of
This isn’t a “what’s old is new again” sort of post. Sure, acid-washed denim and pre-ripped expensive jeans are all the rage again (just not Mom-jeans, I suppose). It’s not being nostalgic for that days of my youth, either.
Okay . . . maybe it’s a little nostalgic.
I got to see what it was like to be me at the ages of 11 and then 15 all over again this weekend. I just didn’t have to see the big hair and shoulder pads and really bad haircut all over again. No, I had quite a stellar weekend with my kids and without realizing it at the time quite a lot of it harkened back to my youth.
It started on Friday. After working – starting early and chasing a story with college freshmen moving into a dorm – I sat at home and wondered what I was going to do with my kids. They, you see, had Friday off though I don’t know why. (The school had some reason, I simply think it’s because they wanted to have a 4-day weekend, but the kids said I was being grumpy) Since the kids had been cooped up in the house all day I decided I should find something outside the home. It was at that moment a fortuitous “ding” hit my phone announcing an email.
Normally I ignore the ads that come from the local theaters and “Fandango” app but today was something different. It advertised “this is the last weekend to see the 30th anniversary of the film Ghostbusters on the big screen!”
We’re an odd sort of quartet, my sons, daughter and I. We quote Monty Python. We sing songs even when the stereo’s not playing. (Particularly when cooking) We also, when things go horribly wrong, will quote “What did you do Ray?!” and “When someone asks you if you are a god you say YES!” My kids have seen the movie . . . but this was a chance to see it in the theater and the price was right: $5.00.
About 6pm I rounded them up, got in the car, drove down the street and they were strangely curious as to where we were going. Even once we hit the theater they were confused a bit . . . and when it hit they were actually excited. More than that, they recognized scenes they cut out of the TV version as well as how the widescreen format just had more stuff going on in the film. My son, who loves stopframe animation, was enamored with how the creatures in the film were made. We walked out, arms wide, shouting “I LOVE THIS TOWN!!!”
On the way home they asked me if I’d seen the movie when it came out, to which I responded “of course!” They wanted details, how I saw it, what it was like . . . and it was pretty much like they saw it, just more surprising since I’d never seen the movie before. Funny thing was, dated as the soundtrack, outfits, hair and everything in the movie was the kids – even my teenage daughter – could have cared less. It held up.
A friend had helped me get some tickets to a baseball game the next day . . . and we went through the whole thing. Bear in mind, my sons have no interest in sports whatsoever. Yet they were thoroughly excited, even if it was just to get the ballpark food and experience. Yet . . . again, asking the questions about my own childhood, they wanted to know my first baseball game. I told them it was either the Kansas City or Omaha Royals. In my era the Royals were an amazing team with names like Brett and Saberhagen and Bo Jackson. We listened on the radio – as mind numbingly boring as that can be (I know, I used to be in radio and listened to the dead silence between pitches) and would shout at the radio.
They screamed, did the wave, were jumping up and down when the team won . . . and just had a blast.
Then came today. My sons, now obsessed with the TV show Doctor Who watched this week’s episode . . . about an evil creature named a Dalek…and then asked to watch one from my era. The Doctor then, a tall, curly-headed man with a massive scarf and attitude to match in an episode about the same creatures that was 2 1/2 hours long called “Genesis of the Daleks.” Again . . . same question . . . did I watch this when it came out?
“No,” was the answer. “We got these about a year after they ran in England.”
“On BBC America,” they asked?
“Uh…no. This was on PBS. We didn’t have cable and there was no BBC here.”
This threw them for a bit of a loop as they absorbed the fact that there were only 4 channels and no cable. No cartoons except Saturday mornings. After doing the chores we’d ignored the last couple days my sons asked if we could watch a DVD. Assuming we’d watch something in their ilk I was pulling stuff out left and right . . . when my sons asked to watch The Empire Strikes Back. I asked if they really wanted to watch this . . . and they said ‘yes’. So again . . .same question . . . did I see this in theaters? “Yes, with my Dad,” I told them. “He liked these, too, and they were pretty amazing to watch then because nobody had done special effects like this.”
I then realized that they wanted to know the origin story, too. Just like a sci-fi book or series and how things came about, they wanted to know how things were for me. They’re coming into their own and wanted to know how I came into my own.
I realized that this was after an assignment to ask their parents or aunts/uncles their favorite teacher or mentor. It sparked a curiosity that had them wanting to explore their Dad’s youth.
Then came the last question: “so you listen to a lot of old music and watch old shows and stuff,” they told me.
“Yes, sometimes,” I informed them.
“But you also listen to new stuff, like the stuff we listen to on the radio.”
“Like the Black Keys or watch Phineas and Ferb?”
“Yeah, so why do you keep listening and watching new stuff? My friends’ parents don’t do that.”
I thought for a minute.
“If you keep seeing and hearing new things you grow,” I told them. “I may be older than you, and their parents may be older than me, but I like new things. Sure, my favorite record may be Layla but I also think Turn Blue or Made Up Mind are pretty great, too. It’s about exploring.”
They liked this, which explained their curiosity, too. This whole weekend was an exploration for them . . . one of the past. But it was also seeing something else, I hope. I may be older, my body far less apt to do the things it used to do. I have one thing that I hope they gain, too. In my head I’m still giddy to learn new things and part of me thinks I’ll still make the dreams and hopes the ’80s kid in me had come true. They may never happen…but as long as they’re there . . . I’m not getting old. Just aging.