I’ve been especially sentimental this year, due to it being my 20th high school reunion (c/o ’88!). My, has time flown by. So, in the spirit of reunions, I’ve decided to revisit my dusty old photo albums for some golden memories of my ’80s childhood.
Our first trip down memory lane puts us smack down in the middle of my 10th birthday in October of 1980. My mom said I could have a few friends over for my birthday party, so I invited some kids from the neighborhood. L to R: Eugene, aka “Kubo,” the quintessential personification of early ’80s Cali rad culture, with the whispy ultra-blonde bowlcut and his crazy bike (in the picture) which had no brakes—the perfect match for his freewheeling, unstoppable nature; David, the cool and confident kid, who’d easily won the heart of the cutest girl in our class without even trying; Beth (behind me), the wizard of personal computers, tape drives and online bulletin boards (BBS!); me, complete with the asian helmety bowl-cut and a big smooth pumpkin-like basketball with absolutely no grip; Aaron, the younger kid who lived across the street and had a dad who looked like Chuck Norris on a Harley; Basil (sitting on Kubo’s bike)—when I asked where he was from, he held an imaginary rifle to his face, pretending to spot and kill a distant target, acting out the recoil and reloading—I was totally clueless, and he said, “Lebanon”; and last but not least, my younger brother Gayani, who munches away happily on a near-empty bag of generic BBQ-flavored chips that my folks had bought for the party…the twin-pak ones that had two clear bags inside a main big one. It made you feel like you got more for your money.
I remember that day vividly. As I’d probably mentioned before, it seems like 20 years ago there were actual seasons in Los Angeles. That day was nice and grey, overcast and kinda chilly, just perfect for the festivities. I’ve always liked grey days. There’s hardly any of those nowadays. Sucks.
It’s always exciting to open up presents in front of all the friends who came over to your party. Here I am, having just unraveled a Hardy Boys mystery novel (which I believe Beth gave to me). Notice how everyone appears to be awe-struck by my gift. Not being much of the literary type at the time, I don’t think I read more than half the book before pedaling to jump off dirt ramps on my BMX bike with my friends. I’m not sure where the book is now. I remember being fascinated most of all by the blue edges it had on the pages. I thought someone had a job handpainting every single book off the line.
I just noticed that I used to wear the Adidas® knock-off shoes (as you see in the photo, with 4 stripes instead of 3). This was definitely before my awareness of Vans® slip-ons, and how you had to have them in order to be cool. I have an old blog entry which illustrated this whole phenomena. I’ll post it if I find it. I also just noticed the pair of Zips® shoes right next to mine (far left), which were a big hit in the late ’70s.
Part of the festivities that day included a basketball game, improvised by my dad, who gave a money prize to whoever made the most baskets from the free throw line (drawn with chalk). David (at center of photo) easily blew us all away. He was a really good ball player. I don’t remember what made me so jubilant at this particular moment (see me with the widest smile at left), but Dave kept his cool even though he completely demolished us. He was just that way.
Spotting some of the background scenery, I see my old Radio Flyer tricycle on the left, and a weird “banana bike” on the right (toppled over)—it literally was a plastic banana with blue wheels. Then there’s the workbench my dad constructed for all his projects…man that thing lasted forever.
I guess you can tell that I was really having a blast this day, judging from my permanent smile there, gleaming beneath that helmet of hair. Well, I was. It was my birthday. This picture’s kinda faded, and I didn’t bother to try to juice it up in Photoshop, simply ‘coz it had character the way it was. We did indeed have a dining room bathed in gold and brownish hues, and the golden curtains were the icing on the cake. Here’s everyone waiting patiently while my dad attempts to light my birthday candles, my eyes lit with anticipation. That’s Aaron on the far left with the Sunkist can.
After being fueled with sugar it was time to horse around. There’s Basil behind me, demonstrating the neck-snapping enemy-neutralizing maneuver as taught in the Lebanese Army (my smile still unfazed in the midst of struggle), Kubo and Aaron making faces, and David in the background as cool as can be. Lookit that Micronauts Hornetroid box on top of my piano—that was my favorite gift that year. I have no idea where it is nowadays.
All in all it was a fun 10th birthday. Birthdays were always fun when I was a kid. These days, they’re fun, but I always ask myself every birthday how much I’ve accomplished, which parts of my body are starting to creak and ache, and what does the new year have in store for me. It’s sometimes a daunting thought. Funny how when I was a kid, I could give a flying Hornetroid about what the future held. Well at least now I have a kid of my own whose birthdays I hope to make just as fun, if not funner, as mine were.
Yes, I said funner. I’ll always be a kid at heart. 😉