As of late, I spend an incredible amount of time in my car. And when I’m not having self-affirming pep talks, loud evening sing-alongs to my latest favorite Demi Lovato song, or voxing to Beth or Ellie my traffic-induced life philosophies, I am often listening to the Nerdist Podcast. The latest one went on a brief tangent about Twilight and had the guest and host realizing that there is no need to knock it, it just isn’t meant for them. This got me thinking (always a semi-dangerous pastime): since I loved the books and movies and I am clearly not the original target demo (I miss you, teen years **sniff, sniff**), what is my attraction towards young adult movies and books? It is the escape to a simpler time that was full of firsts: first jobs, first kisses (or *ahem* other bases), first loves, first betrayals, and first heartbreaks. Specifically for me, high school came at a particularly fantastic time: the 90s. Don’t believe me? Just reference the number of High School TV shows or movies from this time. Better yet? Let me show you because I am 100% convinced High School in the 90s was like totally awesome.
Pop in that cassette tape
Making a mix tape was a truly an art form and could lead to major swoons, especially if you received one from a guy you liked. Back then, capturing songs to express your feelings was not as simple as downloading it from itunes. Often, one had to tune to a specific station, press record and pause and then listen hard for the song that you just requested 10x on your radio station. You and that afternoon DJ are total besties by now, and you know the “oh, it’s you again” is just a fun joke between friends. Bonus points awarded if you were able to get the song recorded without cutting the first 10 seconds of it off. As I said, it was an art.
Pagers: Not just for Drug Dealers
Just head to your local mall kiosk and you too could be the owner of a beeper (as we called them) or pager if you are fancy. This was the earliest form of texting that I can recall. Only half the time did you beep someone with your number, usually you had a special code and would leave messages coded messages that could be translated by looked at a phone key pad. Or, if you were like most teen girl, you had that memorized. Too bad the beepers were immediately confiscated by parents when found. Parents just don’t understand.
Personal phone lines and answering machines
Some of us lucky ones had our own personal telephone lines as to not tie up our parent’s line. Beyond the ease of not having to deal with boys calling and getting your dad on the line which ALWAYS lead to a line of later questioning, second lines made it easier to be sneaky on occasion. I was often the number given to my friend’s parents when they were not where they were supposed to be. The parent calls? No problem, your daughter is in my basement/bathroom/out on the deck, can she call you back? Quick page to my friend in the code: call your mom. Problem solved. The bonus to having your own line, was your own answering machine. I took great pride in my out going messages: blips of songs, recordings of funny movie lines from Moviefone, faking out your friends like you answered. The simple things could make a teen so happy. There was also something deeply more satisfying to coming home and having a message from your crush (to play over and over until you accidentally erase it when recording your latest outgoing message. Sad.)
Your life stayed off the Internet
Sure, the 90s saw Prodigy and the rise of AOL, but no one was loading pictures on their 14K modem (bonus points if you can remember what modem stands for!) You could have a bad hair day, send a particularly humiliating note to the senior boy from Orchestra, make out with a boy in his car and you not worry that pictures would show up on the webz for the world to see. You had privacy and people were more mysterious. Plus, taking suggestive pictures of yourself was much more challenging. Lots of us walked the line between sorta sexy and not wanted to photo developer to see your training bra. Don’t forget to order doubles.
And with this post, I have now officially become my parents with the distant happy glaze of a time gone by.
Were you a teen in the 90s? What do you love about that time period?