When I was three years old, my parents moved to the house they would spend the next 36 years in, which was not coincidentally the house I spent my youth and teen years in (minus a stint in New Jersey from age 6 to 11). For almost two decades I have not lived in that house, but during a recent visit I was told I still had a box of stuff to take away. It took a few minutes, but I found this mythical box of memories and took it home.
For those who are curious what a slice of the mid 1980s looks like, this box of my crap contained, in no particular order:
- A Rolf muppet doll that I got for Christmas 1978
- A folder of my entire 8th grade English assignments (Steve Littel, for those who attended Washburne Junior High and are keeping score), some handwritten in cursive and some typed on a typewriter, but most printed in 9-pin dot matrix. The standout? An analysis of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Sun”, critiquing how Mama both was and was not a constructive influence on the family. I was thirteen. (I only got a 78% on that paper, but it begs the question: Is it better to get straight “A”s in a normal English class, or mediocre grades in an advanced class?)
- Three Bloom County anthology books
- My eight-grade Washburne Junior High yearbook of 1985, complete with lots of signed notes for me to “keep practicing my nerd powers” and “keep on breaking” (breakdancing).
- The supplement “10 Starter Programs from Family Computing” by Joey Latimer. (I learned about a decade ago that nearly every single BASIC program ever to appear in Family Computing was written by Latimer — and that his primary hobby was music, not programming.) All programs were written in Applesoft BASIC with additional pages translating them to the built-in BASICs for Atari, C64 and VIC-20, TI 99/4a, Timex Sinclair 1000, and TRS-80. I guess IBM owners were out of luck.
- An Atari 2600 Star Raiders cartridge
- Mattel Electronics Basketball (with missing battery cover, of course)
- King’s Quest II hint book, with every single “invisiclue” answer visible. The fun part? I only uncovered a few answers back then. So I guess we know what happens to invisiclues if you never make them visible: They fade to visibility after a few decades.
The only downside to this onrush of nostalgia is that I have Paul McCartney’s “Spies Like Us” song running around in my head, as it was one memory dredged up during the process. Spies Like Us is not only the worst song McCartney has ever written or performed, it is probably the worst song of 1986. And that was a year that graced us with Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time”, Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town”, and Sly Fox’s “Let’s Go All The Way”.
Once I get something stuck in my head, it can last for a few days or a few weeks. Heaven help me if I get Lady Gaga stuck in my head again; I was fighting the urge to dive for a gun after only a few minutes. Imagine three weeks of that shit.