It was 1996. School was out for the summer. And there we were, red Squeez-Its in hand, taking a much-deserved break from our latest MC Hammer trampoline choreography. I’d seen a million days like this—though we did throw some No Doubt, Will Smith, and Aqua into the dance mix for good measure—and I’d see what felt like a million more.
But then the 90s ended and things changed. Frosted tips were out, and so were my perfect childhood summers. But if I could bring just 10 things back from those beautiful days, you bet it’d be these.
1. Rollerblading—Duh. The quintessential form of exercise, mode of transportation, and reason for road rash of the 90s.
2. Trampoline sleepovers—Waking up sweating in your sleeping bag, smashed on every side because the eeny-meeny-miny-mo gods condemned you to the middle spot…again. And—bonus—there were no concerns about four young girls being snatched from the un-fenced side yard.
3. Boy Meets World—Because let’s face it, Girl Meets World just isn’t cutting it and nothing could ever represent the definitively 90s neighborhood vibes better than Eric yelling Feeeeeeeeeney out the back door.
4. Land lines—Yes, the prank calling was best done with the provocative risk of a parent answering, but what I really want back is the idea of not being at everyone else’s beck and call 1440 minutes a day (that’s all of them, by the way) because of the blessed/cursed mass propagation of the cell phone.
5. All-day play dates—That were never called that. It was called life. You left in the morning and, so long as you came home at night, what you did in between was a time warp left to your imagination. So many adventures that could never happen with today’s structured “play” regimen.
6. The community pool—Do these still exist? I mean, the way they used to? With the entire family there, picnicking between high dives and underwater somersaulting contests?
7. The Skip-It—Obviously the ankle cuts were worth it, but “the very best part of aaaaaaall, there’s a <pause> counter on this ball!!” I’ll never forget that jam. And was there a greater accomplishment than outskipping your BFFs? I think not.
8. Reasonable pay for family chores—There was over half an acre of grass on our property and if I mowed the entire thing, I earned $9. That would now be a job for professionals with a trailer full of equipment and they’d charge $100. Ugh. What has happened to slave child labor?
9. Caboodles—How else would you carry your Polly Pocket collection, LipSmackers, and Pogs all at the same time??
10. Innocence—And not just mine. But the world’s. Sure, there was OJ. And the Lewinsky stuff. And… Well, maybe it wasn’t all the best, but as a kid, it wasn’t shoved in our faces like today. We were ignorantly blissful for the most part, like kids should get to be.
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