Apr 4, 2006

Column: The Funny Thing Is...

by Aaron Bennett

Recently while on a visit to an off-campus friend’s apartment, I happened upon a VH1 special that caught my attention. It was called, “I love the 90s.”

This, perhaps, was the first time I realized that I’m getting old. How do I know? VH1 is celebrating the decade where I got my first car, first kiss, first zit and first crush on a non-cartoon (Jennifer Aniston was the lucky lady). This began the following philosophical stream of consciousness panic: Does getting old mean that I have to stop wearing Pumas and switch to Reebok? Does it mean I have to become a Chuck Norris fan? Do I have to begin “saving money” and “being responsible” and beginning sentences with, “I remember when a gallon of gas was only….” In fact, the latter of these phrases has escaped my lips in the past 48 hours. The only thing that has kept me from scheduling my first botox injection is the jolly realization that aging, while draining me of nearly everything life-affirming, has its bonuses. Okay, rather, its bonus. That, in a word, is nostalgia.

While VH1’s special certainly got the juices churning in my head, I can’t say I value their advice entirely. How could I? During the very decade VH1 brought to my attention, I seem to remember them choosing to play Amy Grant and Ace of Base music videos while MTV had Aerosmith and Madonna. What I’m trying to get at is this – VH1 has never chalked it up in the cool points. No fear, I’ve made my own list.

The first reason I loved the 90s: Cartoons may have been made in Japan, but at least it was harder to tell. Proof positive of this statement … The Ninja Turtles. I’m not sure why those Shredder-fighting, pizza-eating, April-loving, sewer-dwelling, cowabunga-saying reptiles were the pop-culture milestone of my childhood. But without Leonardo and the gang, I would have had one boring plastic Lunchbox/thermos set to encase my Cherry Capri-Sun and string cheese.

Reason number two: Trapperkeepers. Lunch and recess may have been everyone’s favorite subject, but trapperkeepers are what made school fun again. In fact, I had such a traumatic experience with kindergarten (who didn’t hate nap time, and who doesn’t wish we still had it today?) that I refused to begin first grade until my mother took me to K-Mart and splurged $3.89 on my new notebook. No Trapperkeeper was complete without the pencil pouch that bulked up the front with the “big pack” of colored pencils and one of those clicky erasers. One of my friends got a Paula Abdul Trapperkeeper, but I preferred to keep it cool and simple. I preferred designs inspired with what else? Lasers. While the Palm Tungsten that I currently use to keep myself organized has 15 games, Internet access and a world clock, I miss the days I could shatter the silence of math class with a simple rip of my Trapper’s Velcro latch.

Reason number three: Love was easy. No one was afraid of commitment, because the only thing “commitment” committed you to was who to hold hands with during the couple’s skate. Love connections were made and broken with simple notes, passed by best friends. Just ask Anna – the girl I broke up with on Valentine’s Day 1992. It’s not that Anna was a bad girlfriend of two weeks. It was just that Erin Compton had asked me to skate with her if someone requested Whitney Houston’s indelible Dolly Parton cover, “I Will Always Love You.” Turns out, neither girl did.

But that’s okay. Abbey Merkel is starting to make me ask, “Neredith who?”

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