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Opinion

Impossible to escape the lingering effects of ‘80s popular culture

November 9, 2006

I went home to my mother’s house this week and saw some old photos that brought me back. Way back. I’m talking back to the day when all I needed was my favorite Cabbage Patch doll snuggled in my lap while watching “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” in my rocking chair eating a crust-less peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the ultra mod coffee table.

I know I’m not alone when I admit I will repeatedly watch “I love the ‘80s” on VH1 whenever it makes an appearance. Don’t deny it — you will too. I’ll even watch it if it’s “On Demand.”

Through watching that show, I realize there are many things I can most definitely identify with as a product of the decade that brought us leg warmers over stirrup pants, expertly color coordinated with an oversized, off the shoulder sweatshirt.

Do you remember where that amazing ability to match came from? I’ll remind you: Garanimals, the clothing brand that helped our parents buy clothes that would match based on patterns or colors.

Thanks, Mom.

This was the same era when people thought getting a perm to just your bangs would be a wise vogue choice. But if I’m not mistaken, girls were not the only ones making excellent fashion decisions. I distinctly remember some male classmates sporting the infamous mullet cut.

I can also recall watching my aunt, who was in high school at the time, get ready. She would oh-so-expertly apply her pretty blue eye shadow before walking out the door with her tapered jeans snugly rolled into a cuff partway up her leg.

Also not to be forgotten, no matter how badly we may want to, is the awesomeness that was Zubaz.

They came in all colors, and I’m pretty sure people would wear them on any occasion they could come up with. Bearing the colors of their favorite sports team was the perfect excuse to have more than just the plain old black and white pair.

From the depths of my heart, I hope I’m not the only one who can recall the short-lived phenomenon of Hypercolor products. I had a shirt that would change color as it was exposed to hot air, and my brother had a toy car that did the same.

Thinking back, that is a terrible idea, and I hope from an even deeper depth in my heart that I didn’t get super hot and display my fever in the armpit region of the shirt. How embarrassing.

Let’s not fail to recall the TV shows we spent Saturday mornings watching. I’d share the TV with my brother and father. That’s right, my dad would sit in the living room with us and eat his bowl of Captain Crunch (with Crunch Berries) right next to us watching cartoons. We all got to pick a show.

My brother isn’t nicknamed “Boo-Boo” for no reason, and I don’t have a secret obsession with Care Bears to this day because I spent too much time watching “Transformers” and playing with hinged action figures. We can still have accurate conversations with my dad about specific episodes of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on any given day.

But the elemental event that really brought it all back to me this week was a song my 3-year-old sister sang to me.

“Baby beluga in the deep blue sea, swim so wild and you swim so free. Heaven above and the sea below, and a little white whale on the go.”

Don’t pretend you weren’t a fan of Raffi. I’m not the only one who bumped up and down in a little red wagon.

What actually blew me away was the very next song she was literally “bumping” to “Shake your Moneymaker” by Ludacris. She then proceeded to follow Luda’s instructions and shake that baby ass like she had some business doing it. I blame my other sister and brother, who are 14 and 12, for that.

So I guess Mr. Rogers, legwarmers and Raffi have all been replaced, but that’s OK. I will always identify with them, and we can all get together and secretly reminisce about the times when we thought we were beyond cool because we saved the princess from the dragon in the Mario Bros. Nintendo game all on our own — and it only took us four weeks.