First thing is first. I am not old. Despite my follicle erosion, hip pain, and constantly asking friends about food expiration grace periods and undershirt quality, I am a young man. After college people in their twenties, me included, love to make jokes about how “old they are getting” when they can’t recover from their immature behavior like they used to. The fact that we just took part in immature behavior, that the end of a weekend still has our bodies giving us a giant middle finger, and that the word “recover” is still the final stage of nearly everything on our social itinerary is indication enough that we are not old. We’re still doing plenty of youth related, parentally frowned upon things. Now that I’ve gotten this out of the way it’s time to admit confusion over the younger generations with front porch commentary because quite frankly, I just don’t understand kids these days.
I recently went to Cincinnati’s 3rd annual Bunbury Music Festival: a three-day showcase of emerging and well established indie rock and alt-pop bands, an array of craft beer, and a variety of food trucks lining the walkways. It’s basically one terrible 90’s cartoon show reference away from being a hipster wet dream. I love all this stuff and it’s a great event for all ages. It’s cool to see younger kids take interest in eclecticism rather than just default to the mainstream, somehow popular horse shit Pitbull or Florida Georgia Line radio hit. I was too insecure in High School to consider anything outside the mainstream. My cultural independence had the significance of dialogue in a Michael Bay movie so to see kids embrace an event like this and search for what they like rather than what everyone tells them they should like is pretty neat.
That being said, I have two questions for this younger generation. First, what’s with the high black socks? Second, and more curiously, when did Hula Hoops make a comeback? Throughout the festival we saw a litany of teenage girls carrying around hipster-bedazzled hula hoops like it was their boyfriend. I soon realized it’s not a good look for me to be staring down 17 year old girls, especially while holding a beer and constantly perspiring from the heat. I was a mustache and a Spider-man hat away from Dateline NBC paying me a visit. I still couldn’t stop wondering why hula hoops were everywhere. Despite my confusion for what kids prefer to carry around or wear these days I soon remembered an adult doesn’t need to care. They can do what they want. Then I started to think about a related subject. What other childhood toys that inspired activity I used to have might make a comeback? (I admit the music festival was a bad segway, but seeing the hula hoop there did trigger nostalgic thoughts of some pretty cool stuff from the days our social itinerary was even simpler: Go play).
The Pogo-Stick: I remember being insanely good at this. Then I remembered being told it wasn’t a cool thing to be good at. Then I remembered when the rubber tip came off the end and I Jumped on a slick surface. It’s a good way to get Pogo’d in the wrong place. Nearly being sexually assaulted by a pogo stick could have led to years of therapy. Instead I just opted for childhood obesity.
Rollerblades: I never see these anymore. They were my entire weekend when I was a kid. This is in large part thanks to the popularity of Gordon Bombay, Charlie Conway, Dave Averman, Fulton Reed, Julie “The Cat” Gaffney, and the rest of the Mighty Ducks. Roller hockey was “game on” every night for a solid 3-4 years. (Note: some of you might also remember a little movie called Airborne filmed in Cincinnati which put an over the top emphasis on Rollerblades settling almost all of life’s adolescent problems)
Skip-It: My sister had one of these. I hated it. The Skip-it was fun for 12 seconds and the electronics broke in 15.
POGS: If Pogs were still popular I would be hard pressed not to steal them from young children. I carried a slammer and a POG tube in my elastic waistband jeans back then like I carry my wallet now. It was essential.
BMX Bikes: These bikes were pretty cool, until you actually had to go anywhere on them.
Nerf “Vortex” Football: Yes you could throw it really far. Yes it made a cartoon ‘bombs away’ whistling noise that made it hilarious when throwing it at your brother while he’s not looking hoping to hit him in his prepubescent nuts. No it was not fun to catch.
Easy-Bake Oven: What little boy didn’t come down the stairs on Christmas morning hoping to see one of these!? Am I right?
Nickelodeon GAK: If you’re an adult and your hands currently smell like GAK I’m turning you over to the authorities. This stuff smelled like library book glue, melted plastic, paint, and egg shells. I have to assume the ingredients label said: library book glue, melted plastic, paint, and egg shells. My mom and dad giving me this stuff was basically them saying “Have fun. We’ll ground you in an hour.”
Age 7 – “Wow. Those are awesome, man.”
Age 8 – “What’s up, Nerd?”
Super Soaker: An essential part to epic water gun fights and the easiest way to piss off girls. Super Soakers and water gun fights went away, but I was good at alienating girls for years.
This list could easily keep going. Nostalgia works that way. Feel free to comment with more. I doubt I’d see many of these items at any music festivals especially if they can’t be used for trademark hipster irony, but thanks to seeing the hula hoop I was able to take a trip down memory lane. There were so many great toys then and far more appreciated than the couch-centric Apps that serve as entertainment for kids today…and that was definitely “kids these days” commentary. I am so old.