When I Was A Kid In The 80’s…

by ANNE GARDNER and ANDREW HICKS
edited by WOO and ANDREW HICKS

Wait, that's not a box of Chicken McNuggets, it's a crazy Transformer hanging out in a fake styrofoam box!

There were no gender-specific McDonald’s Happy Meal toys back in the day. Boy or girl, you got the same toy, like it or not. They were shitty, and they got exactly one play session — during the ride home — before being sentenced to life imprisonment in the toy box. Now kids get Barbie dolls and Littlest Pet Shop (“That’s who!”) figurines. I’m talking the real toys.  Lucky kids. Of course, these children are fatter, slower and weaker now than we were, but whatever. I still feel ripped off.

There were TWO different brown M&M’s during my childhood. A light brown and a dark brown. Someone must’ve misheard the acronym for the colors of the rainbow — “Broy G. Biv,” or some shit. The company finally realized brown was one color and killed the lighter-skinned M&M, but I wonder what kind of personality the light brown M&M would’ve had if it’d survived to be a part of the current ad campaign. Like the green one’s all sexy, the yellow one’s a fatass with a comb-over, the red one is gay… what would the light brown one have been like? Social reject? Awkward jokester? Corner pouter at the cocktail party? Or would he just get pulled over by cops all the time because he’s BROWN?

Candy was cooler. I used to go to a place called Corner Drugstore that was wedged into the middle of a strip mall. It wasn’t on a corner, in other words. C-Drugstore smelled like a mixture of delicious sugary sweets and Band-Aids. I could walk up there and buy tiny boxes of Lemonheads and Boston Baked Beans, bags of candy necklaces, and Ring Pops for like ten cents apiece. I haven’t seen a Lemonhead in years, if you don’t count Kanye West. There  just aren’t any stores like that around my way these days. Walgreens has completed its hostile drugstore takeover, and kids buy full-sized, fancy-schmancy candy like Snickers and Jelly Bellys. God, I sound like I’m in my eighties.

Cartoons were also better in my childhood. Donald Duck didn’t wear pants, and it wasn’t weird. Tom and Jerry murdered each other in every episode. He-Man and She-Ra worked out together in a giant co-ed gym. We swore by the Looney Tunes gang. Elmer Fudd chased Bugs BunnyWile Coyote chased the Road Runner, Sylvester chased Tweety, and Pepe Le Pew chased tail. All these simple plots made perfect sense. There was a protagonist and antagonist, good guy and bad guy, hero and villain. Compare these straightforward archetypes with Sponge Bob. Stupid. Nonsense.

A quarter-century ago, there was this big yellow book you looked in for addresses and phone numbers. If you couldn’t find your information in there, you were shit out of luck. If you needed directions, you called your destination and wrote down the instructions that were given to you. Or you looked in your spiral bound street guide. Now the Internet and GPS have made the phone book obsolete, even though it still gets chucked onto your porch once a year. Poor bastard. There may be a time when I need to look in my Yellow Pages, like if there’s a power outage and my cell phone service crashes, but that thing usually goes straight in a drawer until it’s replaced by the next phone book that goes straight in a drawer.

The convenience of the modern age has made us complacent. Back in the day, when you called Domino’s or Pizza Hut, you had to give them your full address, and they would tell you if you if you merited getting pizza delivered. If you were outside their delivery zone, they wouldn’t tell you where the nearest location was, either, because they didn’t know.

A school shooting in my youth meant I could bring my Super Soaker to school and spray it at the boys on Field Day. What the hell is up with kids? Seriously? You know, I think it has something to do with the crappy cartoons. Maybe if they had a little more Looney Tunes and a lot less Sponge Bob, the difference between right and wrong might be clearer. Yosemite Sam was a prick. He’d get all mad and red-faced, he always lost, and no one wanted to be like him. The cartoons today are loaded with animated pricks, except now kids want to be like them.

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