I was born in 1973 which meant that I would be a kid of the 1980s. Life, but then, was big and bright. But it was a simple time, an era of simple pleasures. Disco was dead, and grunge was yet to be born. It was a time of innocence, a time of discovery, and a time when we were simply trying to figure ourselves out. For me, it was the best time to be alive.
The movies I grew up with included classics like "The Breakfast Club", "Back to the Future", and "E. T. The Extra Terrestrial". Steven Spielberg had just brought out "Jaws", the flick that kept us out of the water. George Lucas had just released the follow-up to "Star Wars", aptly named "the Empire strikes back" and introduced the world to Darth Vader. Kids everywhere were on their BMX bikes, roving around in little gangs and imagining who would answer when E.T. phoned home.
The music of the day included new bands like Depeche Mode, Queen, and Motley Crue. These were the days of Bryan Adams, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen. Whether you are into New Wave, Rock, or Punk, one thing was for certain – you could sing along to every song, and music had a message for every emotion, every occasion, and every aspiration.
Growing up in South Africa, we only got TV in 1976. The 80's, therefore, saw this new novelty take off with shows like "The A-Team", "Magnum PI", and "Star Trek". Our parents watched shows like Dallas, Dynasty, and Falcon Crest. We had yet to become enamoured with the nine o'clock news or politics. Our most important activities included the beach, girls, and which junk food to on a Friday night.
Of course, being the rebellious teenagers we were, we were trying out new things, forbidden things like cigarettes (what were we thinking?!) and making out. These were the days before the Internet, cell phones, and PlayStation. For us, getting together would be in person at the mall, at the bowling alley, or at the gym. A phone was something you had one, maybe two of, in the house and it would be answered when someone was home.
For a nerd like me, something like a space shuttle launch was a highlight. The car of my dreams would have been a 911 Porsche, Lamborghini Countache, or a Ferrari Testarossa. A course, dreaming of becoming a doctor, I imagined all of these to be well within my grasp. Perhaps a small aircraft as well. Ambition has never been in short supply.
Looking back, I can't help wondering where those days went. Kids back then certainly didn't have the preoccupations of kids today. For us, a quick look in a mirror could sort out our gender identity. A fat lip or a black eye sorted out any offence that we may have taken from one another – and, ironically, you would probably end up being best friends with the one who gave you that reminder.
Yes, we had the cringeworthy hairstyles. Yes, we had a cringeworthy style in the clothes we wore. We were young, stupid, and reckless at times, but my generation was a happy one. Yes, we drove our parents crazy. But somehow, we knew where to draw the line. Back then, drugs was a big no-no. Sex was something you only had with protection. And, for me, anyway, getting drunk was something that could wait.
I miss those times. Back then, everything just worked. Everyone had a job. Everyone felt safe in their own homes. I am not sure if we will ever have days like those again but, for the sake of our children, and our children's children, I hope we make it through this crazy time we find ourselves in. I hope we can have leaders like Reagan and Thatcher again. Until then, I will just continue to be the person I was raised to be. I will continue to set the example my parents set for me. It is all I can do. It is all we can do.