Twenty Years ago: tomorrow

How I killed time in the late 80's
August 05, 2008
When I think of the 80's, I usually think of the early to mid 80's. However, the late 80's was a great time for me as well. I was approaching ten years old, my imagination was in overdrive, and I was becoming aware of pop culture like never before. Doors were opening up to me for the first time and I was excited about what great things tomorrow might bring. Though to get there, like everywhere else in a town of two thousand people, you needed a bicycle.

Not having a bike in my town was like not having a car in Los Angeles, you were a nobody. You had to have one if you were going to hang out with your friends. You either had to ride to their house or ride around town with them. The only alternative was walking, and walking was for losers and old people. The best bike was the Diamondback. Of course, that means I never had one. I had the hand me down bike from the 70's with a ripped up banana seat and rusted sissy bar. Sure it was a piece of crap, but it was mine.

Bikes were only good in the summer time though. During the cold harsh Illinois winter, Television was my best friend. During the week I kept with the mainstays of Nickelodeon, MTV, and reruns of Superfriends during the afternoons. The weekends though, were the best. My parents let me stay up late on weekends (and vacations) and I was addicted to all the greatness the boob tube could offer. Starting with Friday night and a show that kicked off every 80s' weekend. Of course that was just the beginning. Saturday Morning Cartoons was the cornerstone of any nutritious weekend breakfast. I'd wake up early, make myself a HUGE bowl of cereal, and proceed to vege out on animated greatness. The pinnacle of witch was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After my "fix" of cartoons it was off to play, but before long it was back to the old idiot box for some more syndicated goodness. The best of these shows came on at 9:00p.m. Saturday night.

The American Gladiators kicked more ass than a Chuck Norris movie marathon. Every Saturday scrawny contestants would face off with the titans of television, The Gladiators. Everyone had their favorites, mine was Nitro. He was a fierce Gladiator with a heart of gold and a sense of sportsmanship that was unrivaled among his peers. He'd knock your ass down hard, but then hold out his hand to help you up and tell you to try again. A true sportsman.

The television fun didn't end then. Oh no sir. There was still Sunday morning to go. During the post-Transformers era of the late 80's, I was looking for a new hero. I found him in Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. I marveled at Captain Power's adventures as he, and the Soldiers of the Future, fought the tyranny of the evil Lord Dread and his Bio-Dread Empire. That was until one horrible Sunday morning when I turned on the t.v and found in Power's place was reruns of Gimme a Break. Yeah, gimme a break indeed.

The television wasn't all fun and games though. A monster lurked in the airwaves. A frightening boogeyman that not even Captain Power could stop. The kind of monster that nightmares are made of. In 1988, Freddy Krueger made the leap from big-screen to small with the syndicated show Freddy's Nightmares. I had to stay vigilant and be ready to change the channel before Freddy came on and jumped out of the t.v. to rip my face off. Like I said, my imagination ran wild back then. Freddy did scare the total shit out of me though, and there was no escaping him in the late 80's. He was everywhere. Even on my second favorite way to spend the time. The Nintendo Entertainment System.

I'd waste away hours on my NES. My favorite game was Super Mario Bros. 2. Other games I spent my precious time on was Donkey Kong Classics, Joust, Marble Madness and when friends were over there was Spy v.s. Spy. No better way to kill time with your buddies than trying to electrocute them or blow them up in hilarious ways. Of course I never let my game playing interrupt American Gladiators, but the games were back on before Freddy showed up, believe me.

Now the Nintendo was in a playroom in the basement with most of my toys, but the best toys were two floors up in my bedroom. Hours not spent outside, watching t.v., or playing Nintendo were spent in my room playing with my favorite toys. Toys like the Tacky Strechoid Warriors, My Powerjet X-T7 with Captain Power action figure, Construx, Spinjas, and my favorite toys of the late 80's; Micro Machines

Micro Machines was the greatest toy ever! Like Mini Hot Wheels, there were all kinds of Micro Machines. Cars, panes, motorcycles, helicopters, and Semi trucks.
The best thing about Micro Machines though, were the play sets. I had the Helicopter car carrier, the aircraft carrier, and the greatest play set of all Travel Cities.

Travel Cities were the best. You could carry them arround in your pocket, and link them together to form a city. I had almost all of them and many, many multiple sets. The only one I didn't have was the Fish & Chips, which is weird because everyone had the Fish & Chips. Travel Cities play sets were so awesome that I stopped collecting Micro Machines when Galoob stopped making them. That was ok though, I had enough to cover my kitchen table.

With all those toys in my room it was still kind of boring. I needed back round noise. Something to listen to while I built jet planes with my Construx. Music that I could listen to while cruising the streets of Travel City. That music came from my little radio cassette player. The radio pictured is very much like the one I had back then. A simple AM FM radio with a cassette deck. Sure it was no Ghetto Blaster, but it provided me with the latest top 40 hits, hair metal singles and it was something I could play my tapes on without disturbing my mom.

Looking back, the late 80's was a really cool time for me. I was just learning about the world and it all seemed so great. I just wish I could enjoy things today as much as I enjoyed things twenty years ago, tomorrow.
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