The Pre-Wonder Years
Episode 1: The Happiest Days of One's Life



It was the spring of '90 and I was starting to enjoy downtown living. One crowd of people, in their 20s and 30s, were pumping rap music from their ghetto blasters. The others were ripping down the tight strip of the city listening to their Freestyle mega-mix (from Stevie B. to Lisa Lisa). In fact, I woke up almost every morning listening to "Fantasy Girl" or better yet, "Bad of the Heart". Somehow, those loud bass songs did not affect me. Perhaps it was because I was wearing the best new pair of pajamas in the world.

Feast Your Eyes On These Nasty Boys:



His name was Sergeant Woolly Pullover.
I called him Rambo, get it? Ram lambs, Rambo.
This was during the wave of Army Ants, Battle Beast,
and the Food Fighters.


There was much worse drama in the day to deal with than having to listen to love songs. I had a lot on my mind any time it was a school day. My day always started off busy. Yes, like most kids, I had a cheese bus to catch. Luckily I had a pull-over sweater that was extremely easy to put on. It was the tight rolled jeans that disagreed with my hands.


Yeah, I know only one name comes to mind
when looking at this sweater.

Times were much different then from how they are now. I did not have to own cable to enjoy some reruns of The Gumby Show. Yet, I always wondered what Nickelodeon showed in the morning. Back then you could watch Nickelodeon all day long. It had quality shows like Mr. Wizard's World, Eureeka's Castle, the Pete and Pete shorts, Hey Dude, Double Dare, You Can't Do That on TV, and Count Duckula. The only channel that served as a rival to Nickelodeon was The CBN Family Channel. Nickelodeon did not have the Record Breakers or The New Zorro, but at least it had better material than Gerbert. For those not in the know, Gerbert was a Christian puppet (look it up). The record breakers were slot cars manufactured by Hasbro. We all know who Zorro is.




The beginning of my days were dedicated to chewing on any kind of candy. My candy of choice was Fortune bubble gum.


I know, I know...very very Politically Incorrect.

Fortune bubble gum tasted like strawberry and peach together. These single strips of bubble gum were priced at one cent. It always came with, you guessed it... fortune cookie sayings. I learned a lot from those sayings. I remember one said " Man who live in a glass house should not throw stone". I loved buying these for the sayings in the wrapper. Sometimes I could not even taste the sugar. That was probably due to me tasting Ralston Dinersaurs cereal much earlier in the day. I figured that I went to school to do two things. I was there to chew bubble gum and kick butt. I was all out of bubble gum before entering homeroom.

Any seat in the middle row of the classroom was always reserved for me. The backseat kids, as we called them, were always the mischievous little ba... bandits. The teacher's pets in the front did a great job playing dead. My friend Paul and I loved exchanging quotes from Spaceballs before class and after. We were quite aware of the real nature of the classroom. We were settled in the wild wild west, and not the one the Escape Club spoke of. On rare occasions, I drew comic strips with MC Skat Kat in them. I just knew that one day MC Skat Kat would have his own show.


He sure was one lucky cat to be
next to Ms. Abdul like that.



School was from 8am to 4pm for us. No one called it "elementary school" ever. It was grade school all of the way. There was nothing boss about being in the fifth grade. We (grade school guys) lusted after the Jr. High girls. I guess we thought there would be many a Stephanie Kaye. She was from the first Degrassi show which I watched every afternoon in the past. By then, I stopped watching Degrassi and looked at the ladies of the new FOX network show Tribes.


Teenage pregnancy, rape, and stuck-up princesses...
this one show had it all.


The Jr. High pre-teens were far and away. I did not pay much mind to my school work while in class. I was steady setting my priorities. I would focus on the fact that there were now Beetlejuice toys. Usagi Yojimbo, Casey Jones, Leatherhead, Meatalhead, General Traag, and the Rat King were the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure releases. It was impossible to find them with and without the pop-up displays. I did not have a complete set of the regular TMNT either. All you saw in stores were the Wacky Action figures, Splinter, and a spare Foot Soldier. Wacky Action Raphael and the Mousers were the rarest of the Wacky Action lot. Prior to May of '90, I had my Mother call our local Toys "R" Us several times in a day. There were plenty of TMNT products being pushed by the May of 1990. They were being snatched up (that's right) due to the movie in theaters.


Breakfightin' Raphael. Mondo Gecko. Anthrax (Remember the band)?
That toyline that really mimicked the times.

Paul and I liked to pretend we were badd dudes or crude busters. We walked around the hallways in black tank tops holding on to our Trapper Keepers. It was as if we thought we were Tom Hanson and Booker from 21 Jump Street. Could you blame us? The ladies of that time were into guys who sung about "hangin' tough". No one bought it, but it was fun to pretend. While in school, I never wanted anyone to see the true side of me. I actually got a kick out of reading books that were not from the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series. Believe it or not, I was a closet Dr. Seuss reader.


I read the books and looked at every picture.
I still could not picture myself in Seussville for some reason.


Lunchtime was a great time to get away from school anxiety. If you were being bullied, there were great places to hide in. There were many floors to our school. People drew blueprints, for crying out loud. Most of my classmates got along with each other though. They spoke about the latest movies we were allowed to see. Everyone was shocked to hear that Ernest was going to jail. We could see ourselves going to camp or saving Christmas. No one wanted to go to jail. Not then and not now. Jail: Something new, something old.


Yep, it is as "scandalous" as it seems.

My colleagues and I seemed linked together through who we knew. The enemy of my enemy wore friendship bracelets with the friend of my enemy. The girls wore pop swatches and regular swatches from their humerus to their carpus. Fear not, girls were just discovering the magic of the slap bracelet. It did seem like they were part human part android, even then.


Who needs mood rings when you have these accessories
from Claire's?


As I Look back on those days, I realize that I had it easy. All I had to do was read and answer homework questions based on what I read. As a kid, it seemed like I was living in the fiery pit of Satan's mansion. If you were to turn the picture sideways, you would see that I had someone to read to me. I had pizza parties. Best of all, I had no one depending on me. I was clearly the Snoopy and Woodstock sleeping on that dog house after all.