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The High Price of Nostalgia

by effenheimer at 01:37 PM on March 11, 2002

I am listening to “Boys of Summer” by one Mr. Donald Henley. It feels like it’s 1985 all over again only without the mullet. I can close my eyes and be behind the wheel of that sweet 1972 cherry red Mustang that was my first car and first love. Cruising down Broadway on a hot summer night, a carload of my geeky friends, a cool breeze scented with burnt motor oil and that piquant whiff of fried corn chips from the Frito Lay plant down by the Missouri River blowing through the open windows, America’s security unchallenged — that was cool.

Comic books, science fiction double features, occasionally girls, wine coolers in two-liter bottles like Mountain Dew and hours of gaming with A.L. class of 1984 alums, Steve Thomas and Mike Miller at their tiny basement apartment right next to the house of General Dodge, the man who built the easten half of the UP. It was like playing silly buggers in the shadow of an American who had better things to do with his life. Good times.

You don’t get to relive the past and trying is usually a bad deal because nothing will ever make you 17 again. Let’s face it, most things are better when we remember them than they really were any way (Now, I’m listening to “The Breakup Song” - Greg Kihn Band).

I guess I am lucky to have memories. Some people seem to lose that emotional memory if not the entire enchilada. My life is a pastiche of memories sown together with a soundtrack of music. Radio tunes, classic rock, ’80s alternative, new wave. AC/DC, Heart, Devo, New Order, The Police, U2, The Fixx, Social Distortion, Nirvana, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, Leonard Cohen, Concrete Blonde, Julee Cruise and even The Greg Kihn Band if you want to know the truth. The list is endless and so are the places they can take me (“I Ran” - Flock of Seagulls).

Last weekend I spent Friday and Saturday nights with a group of old friends I suddenly realized I had known for about 20 years. One of those guys, Mark Schonberg, I’ve know since Kirn Junior High when this odd, little kid with a broken nose used to call me “Big Man” every day in Spanish, math, gym and football until I liked to beat on him. “What’s up, Big Man?” “Can I borrow a pen, Big Man?” But he’s OK.

Not one year of my life has gone by without talking to this guy at least once although he did blow me off pretty good in college when he mistakenly thought his frat brothers were cooler than me, the sad, silly little freak (“What You Need” - INXS).

About nine of us spent last Friday and Saturday playing a game. Not drinking at a bar or doing whatever it is grown up men are supposed to do with their free time. Sounds quaint, I know, but then the game we play (and I mostly watch these days) isn’t Scrabble. The closest comparison I can make is to Dungeons&Dragons and other role-playing games, but this one is homemade ( “Dance Hall Days” - Wang Chung).

A great deal of this game comes from Steve Thomas’s imagination, but what he and the other’s have done is pull together every single science fiction film, comic book and fantasy novel ever created and made them fair game. It is a truly unique post-modern experience, primarily because no one really seems to know what they are doing at any given time. They like it that way. Pure chaos (“Luka” - Suzanne Vega).

At one moment, a Jedi knight from “Star Wars” is killing a terminator of the Arnold Schwarzenegger variety then hops in his flying Ferrari with a “Bladerunner” Nexus droid that looks like Miss January 1986 to go home to “Dark City” only to find it has been invaded by a character based roughly on the X-Men’s Wolverine. There a talking duck named Lord Aflac kills you with a handful of Lazarus Crystals he got from Hugh Hefner, the time-traveling demi-god, and it’s only 7 o’clock at night! (“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” - The Clash).

It is enough to make one’s head hurt frankly, but the company is good and it is exciting to see men with wives and children get as worked up in their mid-30s as they did straight out of high school.

Watching Kevin Rasmussen (T.J. 1986) and Bob Laudon (A.L. 1984) pretend to be warring, godlike, pan-dimensional, superheroic ... guys, I guess is the right term, while bouncing off of Mike Miller’s new pit set would make some people cringe, but it’s once a year and how often does a black-hearted, whiskey-soaked reprobate like me get to have fun without spending a lot of money at one of our city’s many fine dance clubs? It just doesn’t happen (“Bring on the Dancing Horses” - Echo and the Bunnymen).

Nostalgia is a dangerous business, this much I know, but I like it any way. You can’t beat it for the money and if the greatest danger is brooding over the past, well, that’s not too high a price to pay.

comments (7)

now i'm nostalgic for a life i never lived.

by lavonne at March 11, 2002 1:48 PM

it's the music that always takes me back. that, and the smells.

by kd at March 11, 2002 11:26 PM

I'm one of those people who can't remember shit. I've got the memory of a goldfish. When people sit around telling stories like this, I sit there quietly. It makes me feel bad. Luckily, I'll shortly forget all about this.

by mg at March 12, 2002 12:40 AM

"Broken Wings" (Mr. Mister)

hot, hot, HOT song...

by toxiclabrat at March 12, 2002 6:34 PM

I just read this post and my comments again. It made me sad again that I can't remember things.

by mg at March 12, 2002 8:23 PM

This is a good post, it actually made me feel a littler better about nostalgia. haha, the weird thing is I'm 17. Why does everyone always say "you'll never be 17 again" i'm 17 and I'm wishing I was younger again. Maybe because I'm really afraid to go off to college and university, or maybe because I've realized how little everything mattered before this, and I wonder why I was so afraid of everything (girls, school etc...) oh well. Lesson learned. Good post.

by Benny at March 13, 2003 9:22 AM

Yeah. I'm only fifteen and I'm nostalgic for junior high already. Nothing seems the way it should be growing up. Too bad I went to an all-boys private school. I have absolutely no memory, and that's what I hate about it. I have wasted three years without accomplishing a thing.

by at July 10, 2003 2:21 PM

comments are closed