I’m not sure, but I think we might be far enough way from the 1990s to know what to wear to a ‘90s party. Right after an era ends, it’s hard to know what defined it. It’s like when I was trying to fill in my son’s baby book.
I was on the page where it wanted me to fill in “Popular Songs,” “Today’s Fashions” and “Famous People” from 1990, when he was born. What are we wearing, I thought. Uh, I don’t know, clothes? It wasn’t until about 2004 that I realized I had been wearing linebacker shoulder pads worthy of a Steeler, I was tying my big brightly colored t-shirt into a knot just below my waist over to one side, I had on stirrup pants, espadrilles, white hose with dark skirts, and straight leg, high-waisted jeans that were unnaturally dark blue.
And famous people? How do you list “everyone.” I had no idea who would pop years later and who I would read later and say, “Huh? Who the hell was Dishwalla?”
In the ‘90s they called all popular music ‘Alternative Music,’ although what it was an alternative to, I haven’t a clue. Those were my oldest son’s entry level music years, when we had to have the car radio permanently wired to 106.3, where Wendy and Bill kept us in stitches with their hip humor, weekly school lunch menu parodies, and up-to-the-minute songs from the Smashing Pumpkins, Sugar Ray and No Doubt.
Nineties’ music was so weird. I was glad my son was engaged, but I wasn’t so sure about the angst-filled lyrics: “If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this string while I walk away . . .” or “I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me.” “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo . . .”
As I write this, there’s cool jazz playing at Joseph Beth Bookstore, so it’s hard for me to come up with the lyrics while listening to another tune. (I’m not good at lyrics, anyway. I still think Michael Jackson was saying, “The ched is not my son” in Billie Jean.)
My daughter and I love watching those retro flashback shows on VH1. “We love the nine-teeeees,” I sing along. Because I did love the nineties! I was pregnant twice in the ‘90s, so for me it was the decade in which I could stop holding in my stomach, not once, but twice! Score!
And if you think I loved the ‘90s, I could marry the ‘80s. In the mid-1990s, the two young guys next door told me they were having an ‘80s party and were dressing up like “the ‘80s.”
“What do you mean, like the ‘80s,” I said. “I can’t even think of anything that set apart the ‘80s.”
“If you think that, then you’re still living it,” they said, and the look on their faces said it all: I was dressed so last decade. They ended up wearing loafers with no socks, khakis and alligator shirts (with the collar up in back, of course.)
If only I knew what was going to define the “otts” or the “double zeros” or whatever the hell we’re calling this decade. I’d be sure to save it for posterity and for the party I’m having in 2020.