[forwards taking a trip down memory lane]
Don't call me "Generation X,"
call me a child of the eighties
by Bryant Adkins
published in The Reflector
January 20, 1995
I am a child of the eighties. That is what I prefer to be called. The
nineties can do without me. Grunge isn't here to stay, fashion is
fickle and "Generation X" is a myth created by some over-40 writer
trying to figure out why people wear flannel in the summer. When I got
home from school, I played with my Atari 2600. I spent hours playing
Pitfall or Combat or Breakout or Dodge'em Cars or Frogger. I never did
beat Asteroids. Then I watched "Scooby Doo." Daphne was a Goddess, and I
thought Shaggy was smoking something synthetic in the back of their
psychedelic van. I hated Scrappy.
I would sleep over at friends' houses on the weekends. We played army
with G.I. Joe figures, and I set up galactic wars between Autobots and
Decepticons. We stayed up half the night throwing marshmallows and
Velveeta at one another. We never beat the Rubik's Cube.
I got up on Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. to watch bad Hanna-Barbera
cartoons like "The Snorks," "Jabberjaw," "Captain Caveman," and "Space
Ghost." In between I would watch "School House Rock." ("Conjunction
junction, what's your function?")
On weeknights Daisy Duke was my future wife. I was going to own the
General Lee and shoot dynamite arrows out the back. Why did they weld
the doors shut? At the movies the Nerds got Revenge on the Alpha Betas
by teaming up with the Omega Mus. I watched Indiana Jones save the Ark
of the Covenant, and wondered what Yoda meant when he said, "No, there
Ronald Reagan was cool. Gorbachev was the guy who built a McDonalds in
Moscow. My family took summer vacations to the Gulf of Mexico and
collected "Muppet Movie" glasses along the way. (We had the whole set.)
My brother and I fought in the back seat. At the hotel we found creative
uses for Connect Four pieces like throwing them in that big air
I listened to John Cougar Mellencamp sing about Little Pink Houses for
Jack and Diane. I was bewildered by Boy George and the colors of his
dreams, red, gold, and green. MTV played videos. Nickelodeon played "You
Can't Do That on Television" and "Dangermouse." Cor! HBO showed Mike
Tyson pummel everybody except Robin Givens, the bad actress from "Head
of the Class" who took all Mike's cashflow.
I drank Dr. Pepper. "I'm a Pepper, you're a Pepper, wouldn't you like
to be a Pepper, too?" Shasta was for losers. TAB was a laboratory
accident. Capri Sun was a social statement. Orange juice wasn't just for
breakfast anymore, and bacon had to move over for something meatier.
My mom put a thousand Little Debbie Snack Cakes in my Charlie Brown
lunch box, and filled my Snoopy Thermos with grape Kool-Aid. I would
never eat the snack cakes, though. Did anyone? I got two thousand cheese
and cracker snack packs, and I ate those.
I went to school and had recess. I went to the same classes everyday.
Some weird guy from the eighth grade always won the science fair with
the working hydro-electric plant that leaked on my project about music
and plants. They just loved Beethoven.
Field day was bigger than Christmas, but it always managed to rain
just enough to make everybody miserable before they fell over in the
three-legged race. Where did all those panty hose come from? "Deck the
Halls with Gasoline, fa la la la la la la la la," was just a song.
Burping was cool. Rubber band fights were cooler. A substitute teacher
was a baby sitter/marked woman. Nobody deserved that.
I went to Cub Scouts. I got my arrow-of-light, but never managed to
win the Pinewood Derby. I got almost every skill award but don't
remember ever doing anything.
The world stopped when the Challenger exploded.
Did a teacher come in and tell your class?
Half of your friends' parents got divorced.
People did not just say no to drugs.
AIDS started, but you knew more people who had a grandparent die from
Somebody in your school died before they graduated.
When you put all this stuff together, you have my childhood. If this
stuff sounds familiar, then I bet you are one, too.
We are children of the eighties. That is what I prefer "they" call it.