Friday, October 9, 2009

Choking on the 80's

"We had shoulder pads, Gucci stripes, Joan Rivers, “Dress for Success,” and parachute pants. For our minds, we read about astral-projecting actors and considered UFOs and ESP. For play: Rubik‘s Cube and Nintendo. Bio-feedback, L. Ron Hubbard, “Color Me Beautiful,” and workshops like The Forum or The Experience offered promising inner-and outer-beauty transformations to those who had excess cash. The cost of communicating on mobile phones (which weighed less than ten pounds), was becoming affordable to more than just the millionaires and agents. Academy Award winning actress Jane Fonda convinced the Golden State and the rest of the nation that five aerobics classes per week was minimum, and most of us ate only two meal supplements a day plus a “sensible meal.” Weekends were for binging on cigarettes, drugs, Thai food and carbohydrates, sans MSG and (of course) “blow.” Alcohol was out because it made you fat. Wine was fine.
For a while, gay was “in” and everybody wanted in on the fun. Straight guys began experimenting sexually, got coiffed at hair salons, and pierced their ears. Most civilized men watched “Dynasty” every Wednesday on projector screens at the Silver Fox and sipped complimentary Champagne during commercial breaks. The principal indicator that our cultural development had reached the zenith in the evolutionary curve was that any guy could proudly buy their Calvins in every major department store. Before, we were shamefully relegated to purchasing our designer jeans at a singular men’s rack at the rear part of women’s boutiques as if we were secretly buying women‘s apparel. But so what if we were? Our rock stars said we could look like fey pirates, have bows and braids in our shoulder-length hair and wear eye liner. Women cut their hair like marines and sported tennis shoes with evening gowns. Some chose to wear underwear as outerwear. And yes, bustiers were for everyone.
The Fall/Christmas season of ‘83 introduced Cabbage Patch dolls and a singer named Madonna. Both stressed parents and created pandemonium at malls.
Luke and Laura or Tad and Jenny were soap opera couples for yuppies to emulate. The jury was still out on Charles and Diana.
The “Me Generation” was living up to itself in a synergy of science, wealth, fashion and good old American consumerism. We were the first generation to automatically get credit cards at the mature age of 18. Southern California, where I grew up, was so cool and caught up with ourselves that we made a historical fight to excommunicate the more bohemian top half of the state to horde all of the water rights we still own from Colorado and keep the movie-industry taxes as well.
Luckily, I came from parents who reared me with unconditional love and primed me with a self-interest character drive which spot-on coordinated with the early 80‘s, like plaid and platforms--loud and too high. And, by the time mom and dad discovered my homosexualist lifestyle and began dolling out only Catholic categorical love, I was already proud, gay, and Republican. My parents did not embrace the eighties.
After I was on my own, I moved in with my high school sweetheart and we hung out with my work friends. My boyfriend was still in college but my cosmetology career paid well and certain events helped it merge toward lucrative.
But the afore-micro-synopsized decade was built on weak tax shelters and people like me who thought the party would never end. The decade was about to turn on all of us. Looming up ahead was a California see-saw recession that would last way past when every SAG actor in the state could run for Governor. A deadly plague would kill many people; a fact which Jerry Falwell and his kind would use as an excuse for preaching hate for the next two decades.
But had the 80’s kept going on the trajectory it had started out on, you wouldn’t be hearing a peep out of me now. I’d be rich, skinny, and a politically correct drug burnout without the motor skills to even type this memoir. But I bit into a get-rich-quick banana, and by the time the 80’s got serious, I was already choking."

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