Gray matters – Lady of the 80s
Belfast — Anyone who was born in the mid-1970s and on surely has a memory or two that is triggered by the sounds of some obscure song that which only one decade can take the blame for — ahh, the 80s.
Does anyone remember where they were when they first heard “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls? I sure do, and I was engaged in a long lost activity that was quite common when I was a kid. I was sitting in my living room with my older cousins watching a late-night show dedicated to broadcasting the best and worst of the music video era. Shows like that don't exist in that format anymore (you'd even be hard-pressed to find actual music videos on MTV).
The first time I heard one of the more memorable 80s anthems, “We're Not Gonna Take It” from Twisted Sister, I was sitting in my family's old camper in the North Maine woods learning to play five-card draw with my brother Shane and our older cousin Chris. Chris brought the entire “Stay Hungry” album on cassette (pre-compact discs, if you please!) for our listening pleasure (or something), so my brother and I were quite schooled on the coolness of hairbands upon our return.
It was, after all, the era that brought us parachute pants, break dancing and the rise of memorable hairstyles like the mullet for the fellows and the hole-in-the-ozone-layer-creating bangs for the ladies. While that decade has been history for some time now, there are still people like me who insist on hanging on to that time in our lives, at least a little bit.
I've heard on more than one occasion that perhaps I've slipped too far back into the 80s, though. Just about a month ago, it was Friday and also laundry day, so I decided to sport a vintage-cut Kiss t-shirt to the office (and for the purposes of this column, vintage means so far out of style it's not even funny).
Before I even reached my desk, my co-worker Dan stopped what he was doing, took a quick gander at my getup, and declared, “Hey Tanya, the 80s called. They want your entire outfit back.”
Epic fail on the fashion front? Maybe. Staying true to my hairband roots? Totally.
The way I see it, the bad cancels out the good in that scenario, so me and Gene Simmons and the boys toured the city together for the remainder of my Friday. It was pretty sweet.
Then a few weeks ago, during my annual family camping trip up north, I was on the receiving end of almost the exact same comment from my boyfriend Mark. He apparently took issue with my choice of upta camp uniform that included aviator-style sunglasses with the American flag plastered across both lenses combined with my skull-and-crossbones do-rag that I wore to avoid dealing with my unruly hair.
“The 80's want those glasses back,” and “Are you auditioning for a Bruce Springsteen video?” are some of the wiseguy comments I endured during my four-day trip. Whatever. This from a guy who still listens to Guns N' Roses willingly (and yes, I still like some stuff from that band too so I can't say much).
Anyone remember those classic magazine covers of all the hairbands that just took it to the next level of over-the-top with the big hair that was too close to the moon's surface to be considered of this Earth and the outrageous eye makeup that caused parents everywhere to ask, “Are those women or men?”
I once heard someone refer to those flashy groups as “The Ladies of the 80s” — a photograph of Poison that appeared in the now defunct rock rag, Circus, immediately comes to mind. Those guys totally nailed that look with the spandex pants, teased-to-the-root locks and lipstick that was so bright it would have rivaled the most intense neon signs in Times Square.
I may have let go of my giant bangs, painfully permed hair and spandex many years ago, but I guess at heart — and sometimes a bit more outwardly, depending on when laundry day falls — I will always be a lady of the 80s too.
What can I say? I'll be turning up the radio, shouting it out loud and banging my head until I'm 80. And knowing me, I'll probably still have that Kiss t-shirt lying around in case I need a clean shirt.