The 80s were more than hair bands


 I did a time warp this weekend.

Seemed like everything on the radio was 80s hair band. I even went to Putt-A-Round and played around and ate an ice cream.

I came home and watched Black Rain with Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, and my wife.

I even used an early 80s tool at Ivanhoe Park as part of the Kiwanis group's clean up this weekend. It's on a long handle and it has a circular metal circle with another metal circle with metal teeth that spins next to the other one when you push using every one of the 650 skeletal muscles in your body.

Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise gave me two of them because I thought it would be a good work out. But now I hate that thing with the heat of a solar flare. I'm sore. My abs hurt, my arms hurt, my shoulders hurt. Guess it really was a good workout.

I'd think people that used that in the 80s are the one's who invented motorized edgers. Wussies.

Anyway, the 80s weren't so bad. Long hair was for sale and I was buying. The new jeans your mom just bought you quickly became shorts and any t-shirt, and I mean any t-shirt got the sleeves cut off and the length cut off just below the belly button.

I finished high school halfway through the 80s. Took a trip to Florida where my older brother lives, fell in love with this short little waitress at the restaurant where I bused tables. She was like 28 or something and her  boyfriend didn't like me very much because I wasn't shy about letting her know.

I was not a good late teen. I was a jackass. The 80s were a decade of beer and the occasional blunt. The only good thing about marijuana is that it inevitably led to heavy political discussion over Taco Bell. I guess you could say I honed my political beliefs illegally. That probably makes sense to the conservatives who couldn't find the humor in my rant about I-44.

The 80s shaped who I am. It helped me sift through all the crap that I didn't doing everything I shouldn't do.

There were fights, but they were with fists and we weren't worried about someone pulling a gun and shooting you and then saying they were standing their ground. There were girls, there were parties, and there were jobs. Lots of jobs.

I made friends, most of which are gone now. Some of those friends are dead. I would give anything to have made better decisions around them. The 80s showed me what can happen when you don't pay attention to the better angel sitting on your shoulder.

The great thing is that at the age of 53, I can say I'm a better person for being who I was fresh out of high school and tinkering with college. I'm not infallible. I still hiccup occasionally, but I'm more responsive to the needs of others.

Sometimes I stay out later than I should trying to recapture my youth. I do that with quite a few of you readers. But when you see me out, even if I don't know you, one of my greatest joys is meeting new people. So come up and grab my arm. Say Hello. It'll take me six times to remember your name. Has nothing to do with the ganja of the 80s, I just see too many faces in this business.

The 80s were wonderful and I'm sure many of you think the same way. Rush is a favorite of mine, but anyone that doesn't mind playing golf with music playing knows when I'm pulling up behind because Winger, or Journey or Whitesnake.....something like that is playing.

But my greatest gift from the 80s is that it framed who I am now. I'm much closer with my family, because now they don't think of me as a self-righteous ass with nothing but immediate gratification in mind. I know I need to work to get ahead and I know how to work to get ahead.

I know family takes precedent over everything, during the 80s I did just about anything to not be around family. Now I can't get enough of them. When I hear the the music of  that decade it takes me back to a place of fondness, but the smile comes from knowing I'm not that dude anymore.

The other side of life is just over the hill and I don't mind peering over at it as long as I can reach back when I want to - But that's Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current. He can be reached at

Beside the Point, column, Sunday, OPINION, 80s, hair bands, editorial, Chuck Vandenberg, Pen City Current,


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