This past weekend, in two entirely unrelated events, I stepped into the Wayback Machine, Destination: 1980s. At my gym, we held an ’80s-themed Zumba/Sh’Bam dance party–to rousing success (if I do say so myself). The songs were great fun and our participants all dressed the part, though I haven’t been around that many sets of legwarmers in a long time.
After the dance party, I came home, showered, put on my party clothes, and drove to my old hometown so I could go to the birthday party of a woman I’ve known since I was two years old. Party theme: 1980s.
I was immersed in 1980s nostalgia. And there’s a lot about that decade that…OK, was flawed and hateful (the Cold War, the PMRC)…but there’s a lot about that decade that was fun. Exuberant! Nostalgia-worthy. The music. The sunglasses. The neon. The pins.
Oh, the pins.
Pins fell out of fashion by the end of the ’80s and morphed into “flair” (brilliantly skewered in the movie Office Space) but for a while, pins ruled. The 1980s were all about wearing your opinions out in the open (think of the ubiquitous “Frankie Say: Relax” shirt) and pins were interchangeable and portable. They were like the mood rings of the ’80s. You want to know how I feel? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you, and everyone around you. We wore pins on jackets, on vests, on sassy berets. Girls decorated their purse straps with pins, up one end and down the other. And they covered a whole range of pop culture references, from images of favorite bands to TV icons to bizarrely aggressive/pithy/sexually loaded phrases. And so on, and so on. I worked in a record store that sold pins. I bought a ton of ’em.
I still have all my pins.
Now that I think of it, I still have all my notes that one group of friends passed to me in the hallways of my high school, too, but I’m not positive I have to go public with them. Yet I have them. It’s not hoarding if it’s cool, right?
Anyway, back to my little treasure chest, my storage box filled with these weird little mementos of my overly-adorned youth.
My objective is to document them. Pick a pin, at random, out of my funny little jewel box of memories, and write about it. I think the inaugural pin I picked is a winner.
There was a resurgence in the popularity of the 1950s-era sitcom Leave It To Beaver in the 1980s, largely thanks to the emergence of cable, and superstations, and an increased need for programming. WGN, a superstation that broadcasts (still!) out of Chicago, began re-running LITB episodes in the early ’80s that renewed interest in The Beav. Suddenly Ward and June Cleaver and their lovable troublemaker kids Wally and–of course–the Beaver, were back in the public eye, and why not? They combined wholesome family fun with a saucy catchphrase jam-packed with double-entendre-y goodness. Because really, at some point? Don’t we all get a little worried about the beav?
As a side note: who gives their child a nickname that is a euphemism for vagina? And, could you discuss, straight-faced, your beaver concerns with stately dad Ward Cleaver (a/k/a Hugh Beaumont)?
I just found out that in real life, Hugh Beaumont was also a minister. This makes the vagina jokes even more perverse, especially coming from a surly teen behind the cash register at a record store, implicitly winking at everyone who gets the joke on my saucy pin.
Don’t think for a moment that I wasn’t surly, but this was a pin slated for days when I was feeling a little edgy, a little flirty. This wasn’t a warning pin. This pin was nothing but a good time.
Pins ruled. Stay tuned for more!