While my parents were busy working during these formative years, I was often left in the expert care of my older, bad-ass teenage rocker sister and her acid-jean-and-boot-wearin' best friends. Our summer days were filled with fun activities like "doing our (their) hair" - a hot, sweat-inducing ritual involving crimping irons of various intensities, singed bangs, and can upon can of EXTRA STRENGTH Aqua Net, because more was always better where Aqua Net is involved. I can still recall the feel of the thick, sticky spray on my bare feet in the bathroom...
The hair ritual was usually preceded by an afternoon of sipping clear Pepsi and/or Diet Coke and me observing sweet hand gestures/dance moves and expert lipsyncing to GNR's Appetite for Destruction while "laying out" in our (their) high waisted bikinis, weather permitting of course. When the clouds rolled in, there was an almost daily slamming of the door in my face so the girls could three-way-call each other and maybe make out with their Poison posters.
|Not weird at all...|
But this is all just a guess because I was never brought into the secret fold of teenage girl room-time. Much like a book in the Babysitter's Club series, getting shut out of her room and playing Barbies solo led to an AMAZING development of imagination, so thanks sis for that.
Needless to say, with all this free time I watched A LOT of tv. And movies. I can't really testify to whether or not I feel like it was too much. Every study I've read about too much tv tells me that my brain waves were probably highly affected and that I definitely have some sort of attention deficit disorder, and I am an armchair doctor so I would know. If you've seen my vast array of half-finished (let's be real, barely started...) home improvement projects, craft projects and kitchen gadgets (make your own ____!) you'll venture to guess those studies might be onto something.
Every once in a while I had the genuine pleasure of watching MTV, usually at one of my sister's friend's houses while they ignored me.*
*I should also mention, that I love all of these girls who are some of my closest friends now, and my sister and I are best friends. So for the most part I've gotten over it.
I don't know that any single activity from childhood made more of an impact, I'm very sorry and mildly embarrassed to say. It doesn't make any sense to this day why I loved it so much. Maybe because it was forbidden fruit. But there was nothing better in my sheltered middle-class world than to see Steven Tyler prancing around like a mating rain-forest bird, or Bel Biv Devoe warning us, no, demanding that we listen: never trust a big butt and a smile. The late 80's and early 90's were full of countless rock music video gems. Living Color offered me a new perspective on wet suits and what metal bands should look like. The limber and talented Tawny Kitaen cartwheeling across a car was highly motivating to exercise. Chris Isaak's make out moment with a supermodel on the beach was certainly formative to a 12 year old's idea of (ahem) romance. Life lessons learned, people. Music videos brought songs to life visually for me and it some twisted way probably shaped me as an artist.
I think my favorite video might be Land of Confusion by Genesis. It contains a rare gem of cultural context that some of might remember better than others: The Spitting Image puppets.
I had no idea what any of it meant at the time, just that it was hilarious in my 8 year old mind. I watched it again for the first time in probably 25 years recently and still have no idea what it means, but was nonetheless impressed all over again.
As my kids get older, I sometimes wonder if I'm sheltering them too much. I'm not ready to sit down for a Nightmare On Elm Street marathon/walk down memory lane just yet, but I kinda want to share some of this weird childhood MTV obsession with them. Carefully filtered, of course. I've shown them the music video that I worked on with Elk and Boar, but they couldn't be bothered because Mom made it, and how could it possibly be cool?
Thank the 80's gods for YouTube. You can see all of your 80's/90's favorites if you dig hard enough. Some friends and I conjured up a few playlists for our newly founded "80's ladies music video night" and it was the most hilarious and sadly enjoyable evening I've had in a long time. I highly recommend adding 13 or so of your favorite music vid gems to a playlist, cracking open something pink and sparkling and inviting some same-aged girlfriends over for an all-night cackle-fest. Truly the makings of a remarkable evening.
And thanks Mom, Dad and Sis for making all these glorious memories possible. ;)