I'm feeling pretty indestructible right now. After all, I've survived yet another apocalyptic event. The Mayan calendar thing was just the latest in a dozen or so since I've been born. That makes me a pro at them or, perhaps, it just makes me old.
Thinking back to some of the apocalyptic predictions I've witnessed, the Mayan one has been one of the coolest. I loved all the silly memes and funny comic takes.
The apocalypse. Such good times.
Not all of the predictions have been fun. Like in 1997 when the leader of the Heaven's Gate cult, Marshall Applewhite convinced his 38 followers to commit suicide with him so their souls could evacuate earth on a spacecraft trailing the Hale-Bopp Comet. That was so sad. Other predictions have just been wacky, like the Nibiru cataclysm in 2003, when a nutty Nancy Lieder claimed aliens from the Zeta Reticuli star system had passed messages to her through a brain implant, telling her that another planet would enter our solar system, causing a polar shift on the earth that would end in humanity's destruction.
The one I remember the most has to be the Y2K scare that took place in 1999. Why? Becuase, for once, there was an element of truth to all the madness. More than a few people were really freaked out. This was the deal: During the 1960s through to the late 1980s, software companies used two digits to represent a year (1984 was just "84"). As the 1990s drew near, they realized there might be a problem when the year 2000 came around. Would computers think the "00" meant 2000 or would they interpret it as 1900? If the answer was 1900, it would throw off many major industries, including utilities, airlines, manufacturing, and banking. The threat was real and everybody in the industry raced to fix the time bomb as it ticked away. Come 12:01 a.m., January 1, 2000, all the computers we depended on would fail us.
Of course, that didn't happen. Computer programmers around the world made sure of it. But that didn't mean there weren't folks who cashed in on the crisis, selling supplies in case the end of the world was near. Journalists may have also exploited the hype, filling newspapers and magazines with tales of apocalyptic woe. There may even have been a bad action movie called Y2K where Lou Gossett, Jr. spares the world from eminent destruction set in motion by the millennium bug.
Below is something my son found at a library sale a few months ago. It's computer software designed to help your computer "survive the millennium bug!" You could "protect your PC while there's still time!"
If you ever wondered what the millennium bug actually looked like, you can spot it in the upper right-hand corner.
A hand is holding a stopwatch? Holy computer failure, Batman! That means time is running out!
Anyway, somehow we managed to survive the ordeal. I put another notch in my belt. If I live through a few more incidents like this, I just might try to become an action movie hero. Think Lou Gossett, Jr. would be willing to share the spotlight with me?
Ever heard of Glamour Shots? They were so big in the early Nineties. How I wished I would have gone back in the day. The experience sounded so magical.
They treated you like a model! You would go to their photography studio -- usually somewhere in the mall -- and get slapped with a hookerful of makeup before getting a hair blowout that would put an F5 tornado to shame. After that, you'd move on to accessories -- lamé scarves, satin gloves, foofy hats, etc. There was so much dazzle at your disposal. Some people didn't know when to stop.
Once done, you headed to a photographer that had strict orders to use a camera with a blurry lens. Then they would cue you to flirt with the camera. And women did.
Oh, how they did.
I'm not going to lie. Many photos that were taken turned out pretty well. But others? Well...just google 'funny glamour shots' and you're sure to get a chuckle. As for me, all I've got is one from a friend sent. Doesn't she look glamourous? And yes, they loaned her the bomber jacket. Me-ow!
Love that 'off the shoulder' look!
This post is going to be more of a rolling train of thought than a literary masterpiece because, a) I’ve still got a travel hangover from our Spring Break trip and b) I’m depressed because I’ve been using Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator for almost two months and my lashes still look nothing like Zoey Deschanel’s. Thinking on it now, though, that may be for the best. Is it me, or in the commercials doesn’t it look like she’s having trouble keeping her eyes open? Those lashes must weigh a ton.
Anyway, the lack in flow will be more than made up for by the wealth of knowledge I will share with you now. If you’re young, it will lift you to a higher level of enlightenment (lie). If you're old, like me, it will make you nod nostalgically in remembrance (no lie).
Anyway here it is.
Our car looked like this. Sweet ride, huh?
When I was young, most of our family travelling was done between the mid-Seventies and mid-Eighties. Back then families rarely flew on a plane. In relative dollars, air fare was about twice as much as it is now and gas was a little cheaper. If you went on vacation, chances are you drove. That’s what my family did.
The car ride? Boy, it was different than now. First of all, we had freedom. Seat belts had been in cars for years, but people didn’t use them often. That began in 1984, when states started passing seat belt laws. There also weren’t many car seats. Those came in the mid Eighties, too. Young kids used something similar to a booster seat. When we were babies, our parents put us in little beds that were held steady by a big prong that nestled into the back seam of the seat.
While travelling, kids held reign over the entire area behind the car’s front seat. In our family, we got half of the cargo area of our station wagon, so we made a 'fort' and took turns using it. There were three of us, so the remaining two had to share the large back seat. It looked like a couch. There were no bucket seats. Up front, the seat was the same. There weren’t two seats with a break in the middle -- no cup holders or storage compartments. In fact, there were no cup holders at all. There were ash trays that went unused. When cup holders replaced them the world rejoiced, at least the non-smokers did.
As for what we did in the car? We didn’t have Gameboys, Nintendo DS, etc. There were no IPods or portable DVD players, either. (Heck, we didn’t have regular DVD players!) In fact, few cars had anything more than a radio, maybe an 8-track tape player. Later cars had cassette players. How luxurious. For fun we would read, write or draw, or look for license plates from other states. We would also play the Alphabet Game, where we’d hunt for letters of the alphabet in order on billboards, road signs and other cars.
Oops. Wrong 'billboard.'
Speaking of billboards, they were plastered all over. There are much fewer of them today. There were more because we didn’t have those blue ‘FOOD’ and ‘LODGING’ road signs that listed businesses at every exit. Not that there were tons of food options anyway. Highways had no fast food at every turn. There are twice as many McDonalds now as there were back then. We always had sandwiches in a cooler.
One thing we had more of was hitchhikers. The practice had not been outlawed. We never picked up one. Our car was full, plus a lot of them looked pretty scary. Still, there were a few that looked just fine. We hoped they made it to where they were going. I had a friend whose sister didn’t. That’s a story I’ll never forget.
One other thing I remember was all the trash alongside the road. People chucked their junk out the window. You’d even see garbage bags in the ditches. It was just plain gross. The Crying Indian changed all that. If you don’t know about this American icon, here is a commercial:
The “Keep American Beautiful” movement took off. No one wanted to be a ‘litter bug.’
But let’s get back to technology. There were no ATMs, though credit cards had become fairly prevalent. People used cash and Traveller’s Checks, both of which you got at your bank.
As for cell phones? I wish! If you broke down, things looked grim. Instead, there were pay phones at every major business. Hotel reservations were made in advance. That is, unless you wanted to try you luck. Many people did. One year, while my family was travelling home from Colorado we drove home without a plan. On the west side of Kansas, we started looking for a hotel. All of them were booked. It took three hours later and many miles before we found a motel. The seedy place charged by the hour. We didn't touch anything. My mom refused to let us crawl under the sheets. We spread our coats on the bed and slept on top.
GPS devices didn’t exist, either. Everyone used maps. There was no internet, so there was no MapQuest or a quick way to find hotels. Mobil, AAA and Fodor all had guidebooks with listings of hotels and attractions for every region. Hotel chains also had books of their own. That's the way we got information. One thing we did have that you don't see much now was a ‘fuzz buster,’ or radar detector. It detected when cop cars were near by, so drivers could slow down and not get caught speeding. (Don’t get any ideas, punk. They’re illegal, you know.)
Well, that’s the extent to what I remember. I’m sure there’s more info out there. I’d love to hear your travelling stories, be you young, old or in between.
The date: Friday, November 26th
The time: 4 a.m.
Where was I? Not in bed, dreaming of the wonderful time I'd had at Thanksgiving. I was in my car, driving along an empty highway toward the mall so I could shop, shop, SHOP! That’s right. I'm one of those crazy people who got up way too early in search of red-hot deals.
As I was driving along the dark, empty road I thought back to the holiday shopping of yesteryear. Things weren't always so nuts, you know. Or maybe you don't know. That’s why I bring you…
BACK IN THE DAY
Holiday Shopping: Deck the Malls with Boughs of Holly, fa la la la…aw, fudge.
As always, things were a bit different when I was young. First of all, we didn’t have the deluge of kiddie commercials we do now. The Disney Channel? Nickelodeon? They didn’t exist. Children’s programming consisted of a few hours each weekday on PBS (no commercials) and Saturday morning cartoons on the ‘Big Three’ networks: ABC, CBS and NBC (commercials!) If you were a kid, your Saturday morning was booked, not with soccer games or Tae Kwon Do practice, but watching cartoons. That’s when we learned about cool stuff like Rock’em Sock’em Robots and Hippity Hops. When Christmas time rolled around, the retail industry took it up a notch. That’s when the Sears Wish Book came out.
cue the singing angels….
Behold the Magic!
That’s right. Back in the Seventies, many purchases were still made through catalogs. Twice a year, Sears and J.C. Penney came out with big, thick ones stuffed with everything -- clothes, bedding, socket wrenches, you name it. Right after Thanksgiving the Wish Book appeared in all its glory. The back of it was filled with pages and pages of toys. I still remember spending hours pouring over it while making my wish list to Santa. Barbie’s Country Camper, come to mama!Of course, there were regular retail stores, too. I grew up in a town about an hour outside of Chicago. In the early Seventies we didn’t have much, just a down town with a grocery store, furniture store, five and dime, shoe store, clothing store, etc. Our first big box mart didn’t come until later in the decade with the introduction of Kmart, home of the blue light special. As for toy stores, the Toys ‘R Us (known back then by the classy name ‘Bargain Town’) was so far away we never seemed to be able to make the trip (At least that’s what Mom and Dad said. Hmmm....)
Still thinking about that Country Camper...
During the holidays, our best bet was the local Ace Hardware. It always cleared some aisles in the back to make room for all the neat Christmas toys. Then, of course, there was the mall…
Ah, yes -- the mall. In 1973, one opened up ten minutes from our house and our shopping lives were transformed. So many stores in just one place! It was open on Sundays, too, something local businesses had never done. That was the place to shop, particularly during the holidays, and Black Friday was the coolest day. Why?
Stores didn’t open early and there weren’t any bust-down-the door deals, but something fantastical did occur. On that day, every store -- including the mall itself -- unveiled their Christmas decorations. That’s right, no holiday decor until AFTER Thanksgiving. The whole world instantly transformed into a holiday wonderland. Store hours were extended, too. Many stores, including those in the mall, stayed open until 9 p.m. instead of the regular 5 p.m. We could shop whenever we wanted.
Like most girls, as I got older shopping became one of my favorite pastimes, holiday season or not. My dad would slip me five dollars, maybe twenty if I needed a new pair of shoes, then drop me off at the door with my friends. We’d walk around, hit the record store, and check out clothes at the Limited Express and Benneton. Sound kind of familiar?
Despite all the killer deals we have these days, holiday shopping just doesn’t seem to be as fun as it used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom shopping for twenty people instead of a kid shopping for four, or maybe it’s because stores keep pushing the holiday season further and further forward each year. The ads alone are daunting. Whatever the reason, I get a little sadder each year. A little more jaded, too....
Dang! Am I starting to sound depressed. I think I need a little ‘retail therapy’ to perk me back up. Anyone want to go to Kohl’s with me? They’re having a big sale and I have a 30% coupon.
Anyone? ….. Anyone?
This post is on something very close to my heart. I think about it, dream about it -- it permeates my existence. I’m talking, of course, about shoes. They make life worth living. Sure, there’s the whole ‘great family, nice house, wonderful friends’ thing, too. Whatever. The word ‘shoes’ puts me on a whole other plane. With that, allow me to present…
BACK IN THE DAY
Shoes: That’s all I need to say. Shoes.
When it comes to my shoe obsession, I know I’m not alone. How else did the Beatles song, “All You Need is Shoes,” became such a classic? Women love shoes. It’s in our DNA. Sure, we can’t all afford to be all ‘Sex and the City’ and fill our closet with $900 Manolo Blahniks, but the clearance section at TJMaxx? Watch out.
To understand my own personal relationship with shoes, you need to go back to my teenage years in the Eighties (surprise!). During that time I loved trolling the malls. All the clothes, all the purses, all the shoes! Problem was, I got stares wherever I went. Was I a great beauty? No. A freak of some sort? Well, yes, but that’s not the point. People stared at me because I was incredibly tall. I say incredibly, people!!
I was, and still am, 5’11”.
I know, I know. That’s not gargantuan anymore. What historians say is true: the general population has grown taller with each generation. People keep getting bigger. As a matter of fact, Xerxes the Great stood only five inches tall. His chariot was actually a Rice-A-Roni box with bottle caps for wheels. True story!
Okay, so maybe I’m not that strong in history but I speak the truth when I say that whenever I walked somewhere alone, particularly in heels, at least one three year-old girl would yank on her mommy’s sleeve and point. Part of me thought it was cool. Another part thought it sucked. You know the whole ‘gotta blend in instead of stand out’ part? Anyway, that part won out and I gave up shoes that had any sort of heel.
Though classic pumps were popular then, a lot of girls wore flats. They came in every color imaginable so if you wore a red shirt, you could wear red flats. If you wore a pink shirt, you could wear pink flats. Color coordination was highly prized.
There were also Sperry top-siders, a.k.a. boat shoes, which went with the whole nautical/preppy phase. Everyone had to look like they’d just stepped a schooner.
When it was rainy (or not) we wore duck shoes, these incredibly bulky rubber things that weighed an absolute ton. Still, they did keep our feet dry.
I can’t forget Dr. Scholl’s Exercise Sandals (later to be ripped off by Candies). Featuring hard wooden soles, they hurt like blankety-blank if you landed on them wrong. Wooden-soled clogs made an appearance, too.
When it came to gym shoes, Nike and Adidas were in a heated market share battle, though plain white Keds (as well as red Keds, blue Keds, green Keds etc.), Tretorn, and K-Swiss had their followers, too.
The goofiest trend had to be jelly shoes. Made of PVC plastic, this mid-Eighties fad came in all sorts of colors and styles. They really made your feet sweat, so they died out quickly.
Back to the most important part of this post: me. J So there I was, lost in a sea of flat footwear. When I got my first job out of college, I went to work every day wearing low rise pumps. Fashionistas would have been appalled, but my passion for shoes had long since waned.
Then I saw them. Black leather stilettos with the coolest gold buckle and two and a half inch heels. I know, not a lot of 'wow' factor, but that was part of their charm. They were the Michael Cera of shoes: cute in their own way with just enough star quality to put a sparkle in your eye yet leave you with a feeling of accessibility. My guard immediately went down. “I can wear these, can't I?” I said to myself. “After all, it’s only one pair.”
When I wore them to work the next day, my boss looked at me and smiled. “Great!” she said. “You’re wearing big girl shoes now.” That’s when the big shift inside took place. I was a big girl. I didn’t care if I stood out anymore. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!
I spent $400 on shoes that weekend. In today’s dollars, that would be at least $8000. (Okay, so not very good at math either.) Anyway, it felt wonderful and I never looked back. Today I wear heels with pride. Not that I wear them all that much -- my knees are shot and Merrells are so comfy -- but when the mood strikes me I’ll strap on a pair.
And dahling, when I do I feel mahvelous!
Ponytails, ponytails, ponytails.
I see them everywhere. And for the last few years they seem to be partnered with those strange ‘Super-Size Me’ rubber bands that help keep stray hairs in place. Don't they give girls headaches?
It's not like I don’t get it. They’re an easy solution when you’re playing sports. But take that look off the court? All I can say is it wouldn’t fly back in my day. No sir-ee. Which leads me to this week's post:
BACK IN THE DAY
Hair: Birds of a Feather Blow Dry Together
Join me, young friend, as we go back to my youth. Ponytails were left in the locker room. A glamorous bunch, were we. Our hair was our glory. Our hair was our pride. Our hair was, well, VERY BIG.
It wasn’t always that way. For years I had the classic 'long hair parted down the middle' look. Many of my friends also indulged in the short wedged cut inspired by beloved U.S. Olympic figure skater, Dorothy Hamill.
But then SHE happened and everything changed.
The date: September 22, 1976
The time: 10 p.m. (9 p.m central)
The show: Charlie’s Angels
Oh, to be one of Charlie’s Angels. It was every girl’s desire. They were three beautiful women who “graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy only to be assigned such duties as handling switchboards and directing traffic.” Say what? That wouldn’t do! They were feminists! Gorgeous feminists with killer bods! So they ditched the precinct and got real work as undercover detectives for Charlie, a mysterious man who spoke to them through a speaker. Oooooh.
There was Kelly, played by Jaclyn Smith, who was crazy good-looking in her own right. Then there was Sabrina, played by Kate Jackson, who, despite the coolest name, was the least pretty and therefore the least favorite choice when doling out character assignments during imaginative play in the school yard. Finally, there was Jill, played by (drum roll, please)…
FARRAH FAWCETT. Just call her ‘Farrah.’ Everyone will know who you’re talking about.
Farrah was drop-dead, leave your wife/girlfriend in a dumpster gorgeous. And her hair? Well, it started a phenomenon, a phenomenon that lasted all the way through my teen years.
See those beautiful layers? They’re called ‘feathers.’ Taken as a whole they’re called ‘wings.’ Once she introduced those concepts to the world, big hair really took flight. Then the over-indulgent Eighties came around and everything exploded. Literally.
We were all victims. No one was immune. Case in point: Julia Roberts - Academy-award winning actress and America’s sweetheart. Just look at her now…
and look at her back then:
What about Whitney Houston? She’s a Grammy-award winning singer who was formerly America’s sweetheart until she married Bobby Brown and totally wigged out. Anyway, she’s trying to make a comeback, so I’ll give her the press. Here she is now…
and here she is back then:
Catching on to the theme?
Oh! I’d be remiss if I didn’t include at least one photo of a ‘hair band.’ There were a lot of them in the Eighties...
These guys are from Poison (and, yes, I said, “guys.”) If you really need a giggle, just type '80's hair band photos' into Google Images. You will not be disappointed.You know, now that I’m done looking back at the past I have to admit that pony tails aren’t so bad after all. Just don’t wear one when you go to prom, okay?Thanks.
It’s time for another installment of …
BACK IN THE DAY
Fashion: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
So I’ve got this problem and it’s really REALLY starting to bug me. Butt cracks. You heard me, butt cracks. I bet I see more crack on a daily basis than Dan the Drug Dealer. Why? I blame the fashion industry. For a few of years now we’ve been subjected to wearing those low slung jeans that let it all hang out –literally. And, yes, I said ‘we.’ Not only do I have to see a bunch of cute girls’ cracks when I sit on the bleachers at a basketball game, I have to bear the humiliation of knowing my own – much fatter – butt is also on display. Okay, okay – I know they make shirts longer these days. Most of the time things stay under wraps. But still, who among us can’t admit to an accidental showing of butt cleavage? I dare say no one!
So why DO we willing become slaves of fashion? I’m not the first to ask. The topic has been argued for years. But as the debate goes on, so does our apparent willingness to take whatever Vogue prescribes. Sigh.
So at this point you may be wondering, what did your mom wear ‘in the day’ that she’d rather not admit to now? She might not tell you, but I will. Cue the wavy lines on the screen as I flashback to my younger days….
Ahhh…those pants. Those wonderful, wonderful pants. They were light blue, with silhouettes of pink, purple and navy ponies all over them. Dare I say, they were groovy. I was only eight or so, but my love affair with fashion began when I got those pants. I realized how my clothing could express my identity, how what I wore announced to the world who I was. Now why I felt a pair of pony pants accomplished that is something I’ll reserve for a therapist, but I will tell you that when I wore them I felt fabulous. I was fabulous.
But that was me, and I promised you some dirt on your mom. Are you ready? Here it is: knickers. Your heard me. No, I don’t mean the British term for undies. I mean those ridiculous cut-at-the-knee poofy pants that Thomas Jefferson wore while writing the Declaration of Independence. Well in the early 80s they made a minor comeback. Did I think they looked weird? Yes. Did I buy a pair? Of course! Who was I to question the fashion industry? Now here’s the really interesting part: when I searched for a stock photo of someone wearing a pair, I couldn’t find one. Not one! Smelling a conspiracy, I hunkered down and finally found some carefully hidden evidence to back my claim. Exhibit A: a Vintage 1980s McCalls Knickers Sewing Pattern. And they thought they could shield you from past horrors. Hah!
Luckily, the fad didn’t last long and, let’s face it, your mom may be a decade older or younger than me, so she may not have worn them. But there were other, equally goofy trends to which she certainly fell victim. Like the time we all wore our over-sized sweatshirts inside out, or delved into neon. (I nearly burned out my eyeballs with that one.) We also had the Preppy phase with everyone running around in polo shirts, wide wale corduroys and sweaters tied around their necks like Superman capes. Ugh. Plus there was the "Flashdance" craze (leggings and leotards and legwarmers - oh my!) and the whole Madonna thing, too. (Anyone need a pair of lace gloves cut off at the fingers? I thought not. )
Trust me, there’s plenty for us moms to be embarrassed about, and I haven’t even talked about hair yet. So if your mom ever gives you a goofy look when you debut the latest trend, just say, “Hey, mom? How many pairs of legwarmers did you own?” I guarantee she’ll pass judgment no more. That is, unless your butt crack is showing.
No more butt cracks… please!
Photo credits: Butt crack:
Okay, so your mom doesn’t get it. But remember, she was once like you. Sure, it was back when being plucked from the sky by a Pterodactyl was a grim possibility, but still. I’ll tell you what - why don’t you just sit back and discover what life was like in the ‘olden days’. It may not help your mom understand you, but maybe you’ll be able to understand her. So here, for your edification, is my first installment of …
BACK IN THE DAY
Teen Idols: The Eight Pack vs. The Eight Track
Back in November, some friends and I went to see the latest Twilight movie, “New Moon,” at 11 a.m. on a Friday afternoon. As you may have guessed, there weren’t a lot of teenagers in the crowd. Instead, there were mostly moms like us who shared a love for the vampire series. Imagine my horror when half the middle-aged audience shrieked in delight when Taylor Lautner (a.k.a. Jacob) took off his shirt. Can we give a collective ‘ew’? I’m not saying the guy isn’t hot. He is beefcake at its finest. But jeez, he just turned eighteen!
Anyway, as we were leaving after the movie, my friends and I discussed the movie’s plot, some key scenes and, of course, Jacob’s abs. “Man,” one said. “He didn’t have a six-pack, he had an eight-pack!” Then another said, “When we were growing up, we never had teen idols like that.”
And we didn’t. Oh, boy, we didn’t. And I have to say I’m a little jealous. Look at the picture below. This was my teen idol growing up, Shaun Cassidy. I loved playing his 8-track tapes (were talking way before IPods, sweeties) and didn’t miss one episode of ‘The Hardy Boys’ on TV. As a matter of fact, one of my darkest moments involved a pink satin baseball jacket with his image silk screened on the back. My mom said I couldn’t have it, and it was so beautifully displayed on the Sears mannequin, too. Tragic.
Now in typical teen idol fashion, the guy was gorgeous - no denying that. But his bod was so skinny you could thread a needle with him. There were others like him, too. Leif Garrett, Scott Baio, and Andy Gibb to name a few. All of them had dreamy eyes, fabulous hair, and chests as flat as Brownie Girl Scouts.
What does this mean? I’m not really sure. But if you catch your mom gaping at a magazine spread of Taylor (Eight-Pack) Lautner while she’s in the check out aisle at the Piggly Wiggly, have pity. If, however, she squeals when he takes his shirt off in a movie, you have my permission to disown her.