Frankie says Relax, it's not the *real* eighties.

Is this was nostalgia feels like? Like a deadened version of heartburn?

At the grocery store closest to the university, standing in lines crooked with hot-faced kids, I see the eighties have returned. Or almost.

Yes, I see the clothes. I see the baseball tees, the sack dresses. The headbands. The overalls with the cuffs rolled up. And yes, I recognize the Thompson Twins on the sound system. I remember the female part of that group, how she'd hide herself under enormous hats or searing haircuts, and then layers and layers of clothes. She didn't want to be an object, she said.

I see all these kids who look like something that I'm meant to recognize, but they don't really look like any version of myself from twenty years ago. Instead they look a lot better than that.

Their choices are so much more calculated. Mine were blind and off-the-rack. During the real eighties, we all just wore the same thing, because that seemed to be all there was. Anyone who didn't had to go to some lengths to be that way, and therefore was trying too hard. They were freaks, and back then freaks (or nerds) were *definitely* not cool.

And the off-the-rack stuff we had was not very good. It wasn't layered and form-fitting the way these kids look now. Instead you wore it either really loose or really, really tight.

And there was so much acrylic. Yes: where are the acrylic sweaters? You just can't cherry-pick the good stuff, you little bastards. I want to see you in suffocating acrylic, in awful generic patterns, with your sleeves constantly bunched up on the upper arm (and constantly falling down).

And where is the abused hair? The scorched perms and weasel mullets? Where are the giant plastic-framed glasses? Where's the too-much eyeliner? Where are the combat boots? The kamikaze shirts?

For that matter, where's the smoking? You can't just do it at parties, or at your step-dad's cottage, or whenever it's convenient for you. You have to light up every chance you get; if you've got one burning away in an ashtray on the other side of the shower curtain, one within reach between conditioner and rinse, then you know you're on the right track. Cigarette butts should be a natural part of your territory, marking your trails through the world, like Hansel and Gretel through the dark, churning forest of emphysema.

And why are you in a grocery store anyway? You need to downgrade your diet. Just a tich. By which I mean: a lot. You should really only have enough money for cigarettes, beer, hair gel, rent and jeans (yes, you get to buy lots of jeans, and you invest in this matter some *serious* consideration). For food, I would recommend a steady diet of tuna and Ichiban noodles. Of course you'll get scurvy, eventually, but this is the price of cool.

And get rid of those headphones and all that goddamn downloaded music. You should only have a small collection of cassettes (mostly mixed tapes), and only half of them should play properly on your little, shitty ghetto blaster. Yes, you can go look at the foreign imports at the record store, but only for something to talk about at parties.

And no more hugging. Or safe sex. Or blowjobs. Or career planning. Or ...

O forget it. You're far too happy about all of this, and your skin is *waaay* too good, and you're just too much aware of the irony. How else could it be, when you're taking polaroids in bad light, just so you can run home and scan them?


  1. angelina12:41 pm

    Enjoyed the little trip down memory lane...

  2. this is the best thing I've read in at least a week. (I wasn't there much for the real eighties, but I'll take your word, nods.)

  3. Jeane: back at ya.
    Angelina: I know you!
    Holly: Thank you so much!

  4. I was in an 80's bar (in Austin) on Friday night - with 2 students who were born in '84! I was waiting to hear one of my fave 80's tunes (New Order, Human League, Cyndi Lauper, Soft Cell, Dexys Midnight Runners) . . . . the other two were just waiting for me to finish my beer so we could leave! Cheers to Frankie & the real 80's!

  5. I was such an acrylic-clad nerd. With permed hair. And those damn owl glasses.

    My fave possession in those crazy 80's was a button that said "Who cares what Frankie says?" Nobody would get that now. Except you.

  6. Oh so good....
    My partner is three years younger and just missed the eighties goodness, I say with a grin. Only those that truly got the times can refer to them as goodness, right? I suppose any time you come of age, is pretty cool and whatever accompanies it - big hair, geeks, freaks, cigarettes, drinking, thinner the better! - it's all about timing and the eighties just plain happened alongside some awesome life moments and will forever be goodness in my memories!
    This was refresihingly nostalgic, and oh so sharp. Good good read, thanks!

  7. first, i liked your advice a lot.
    second, the last line kills me here. And, I wonder what they will be saying when this style inevitably cycles through the next generation?

  8. Bravo! A great morning read.

  9. luv it!laughed way out loud-none of that short little letter stuff ...and hard!and hairspray!!!so much that ya had to be careful if you were around the smokin cig while applying!!!and so...tripped down that lane.

  10. I am totally loving this. I was 18 in 1985 and I look at pix of me from then and wonder who the hell that girl was. :)

  11. Fantastic. Like Holly, I was around for two-and-a-half years of the eighties, but when kids start going through the nineties, I'm gonna have a major freak out.


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