Silly Bandz. Have you seen these? Rubber bands, in the shapes of animals & other objects. At a premium price. Kids collect them, trade them, choke on them, shoot them at other kids… oh wait, no. Well, probably yes. But it’s not a use officially listed on the packaging, anyway.
Grandma brought each of my kiddos a pack of these rubber bracelets home from vacation last week. I don’t have a problem with silly bandz, really. I mean, except for the paying $5 for a pack of rubberbands part (the inventor of Silly Bandz? Laughing. All. The. Way. To. The. Bank.)
Now, they’re a little too trendy for my taste, and the rebel in me wants to tell my kids to buck the trend. Yet, at the same time, they make me a bit nostalgic, if you want to know the truth. Before my own bucking-the-trend days, I was a passionate collector of rubber/jelly bracelets. Do you remember those?
Only I think they were somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 – 25 cents a piece, back then. Ya know, back then being early 80’s. (Yeah, I’m old) I used to love those things. Love them like sleep with them, make them into necklaces, get them taken away by my fifth grade teacher, sneak into said teacher’s room during recess & steal them back…
So it got me thinking about OTHER trendy or otherwise awesome things that make me reminisce on the good parts of my youth. Here’s what I came up with:
Jellies. The shoes. Oh, I had this most awesomest pair of fluorescent orange jelly sandals when I was about 9. Those babies would GLOW in the twilight, man. I’d strap them on, and wait at the door, for just the right light, just as the sun set, when the sky is that weird grayish purplish color for about 10 minutes, and race out of the house down the driveway to dance in my day-glo orange jellies. Yesiree boss, I was cool. Um, by cool I mean, you know, uncool.
And then there was Madonna. I’m not sure I can give words to just how much I worshipped Madonna as a pre-teen. She was amazing to me – the most beautiful voice, the most risqué lyrics (hey, I didn’t really KNOW what Papa Don’t Preach was about, but I sure as heck knew as a cruised along on my bike with my walkman on that it was SOMETHING my parents didn’t quite want me to listen to), and marvelous clothes. Speaking of clothes… the very first outfit that I purchased with my very own money – I’d say right around the ripe old age of 10, was (yes, I still remember it like it was yesterday, thank you very much) a white miniskirt that had a roll-down waist, and an orange (are you getting the picture here, orange was cool) slightly off the shoulder shirt with roll-up sleeves that, when rolled up, revealed orange MESH. Very Madonna-esque. Very cool (come on, it was the EIGHTIES). My mom wouldn’t let me get the studded belt. But, you know, you take what you can get. I probably wore that outfit every other day.
(Okay, don’t have a photo of that outfit, so this will have to suffice. Me, circa 1989. Note asymmetrical haircut & beret. Really, the start of said bucking-the-trend days. Yet, note the Docksiders adorning my feet. Gah.)
So back to the eighties & music: the mix tape. My first mix tapes were made using the radio. By this I mean that I used to hold my tape recorder up to my sister’s radio & wait with bated breath for the “good” songs (read: “Walking on Sunshine” and “Careless Whisper” and “People are People”) to come on the radio and rush to press play & record in precise unison, quickly press the microphone slot up against the speaker, then dash out of the room & make everyone promise not to go in until the song was done, to avoid any background noise. Of course, there always was background noise. Also, it was recorded in mono. But again, you take what you can get.
When CDs came out, I was in heaven as far as mix tapes were concerned. No more tape player to tape player recording of tapes from my friends (and yes, I still have the Beastie’s License to Ill on a tape-to-tape dub. Yes I DO.). Now I could have my music in STEREO (and uninterrupted by a side-flip)! I still remember my first CDs. I used to save the long boxes the CDs came in (remember those?) and tape them up all over my walls. I shudder at the thought that I used to pay $17.99 for each CD. Highway robbery, I tell you.
Eventually I burned all my disks into iTunes, and sold my CDs. And I swear I kept this one for posterity ONLY:
But back to mix tapes. There was just something about them I’ve not quite managed to duplicate with an iTunes playlist. Maybe it’s the penciled-in song list on the tape label. Maybe it’s the song cutting off in the middle when you unexpectedly reach the end of the tape. There was something just very… tangible about mix tapes. I did keep a lot of my mix tapes, though I no longer have a way to play them. Relics. I just can’t part with them…
So what else evokes memories of youth? I suppose there were the movies. There are a few movies that don’t ever get edged out of my top 20, no matter how many new movies I see. Classics, you know, like ET (I distinctly watching this from the FRONT ROW of the movie theatre and bawling my eyes out.), The Empire Strikes Back, Karate Kid, Yentl (I loved Barbara as a kid… not nearly as much as Madonna, but still. What ever happened to Barbara?), Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, Willow, Say Anything...
And books! Nancy Drew, Watership Down, Charlotte's Web, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridge to Terabithia...
Sigh. I really lived those movies & books as a kid, not just watched or read them, ya know?
So, back to the present. When I see my kids with silly bands lined up on their arms, I sigh a bit. Knowing they might remember them in 30 years with as much fondness as I recall mix tapes. Or maybe they’ll forget them. But for now, I’m okay with them, trendy or not. I look at them like a little sign that my kids are breaking out on their own, away from me & my ideas of what is cool or not. Which is exactly what they are supposed to do; growing up. Growing into themselves. It means we’re doing our job right.