Take a ride with me in my car and you’ll find me constantly toggling between the “’90s on 9” and “Lithium” satellite stations. Not because I can’t find the perfect song, but because every song perfectly projects me back to the defining decade of my younger days – I’m a ’90s girl through and through.
I spent ages 9 through 19 in the 1990s, formative years that are punctuated by distinct memories of music, games, TV and style (or lack thereof!). Get ready to rock your one-shoulder overalls, put on some Pearl Jam and get jiggy down memory lane.
Remnants of the ’80s left me sporting neon, pink and turquoise fashion in the early years. Regrettably, I even wore black bike shorts with black and white checkered stripes down the side to school with my high-top sneakers and double-layered socks. Thankfully, things were about to change really fast. By middle school, the grunge movement was in full swing, replacing neon with brown, gray, black and beige. We must have been one shade shy of sepia tone! So I tied a plaid shirt around my waist, laced up my Eastland loafers and went with it. By the end of the decade, the midriff baring ensembles on 90210 were influencing the crop top/wide leg jean/cargo skirt look that I also didn’t escape. It’s amazing I never made it on House of Style.
I relied on some mix of MTV Music Videos and Seventeen Magazine to guide my beauty regimen. I spent way too many hours trying to replicate Chili’s makeup from the “Waterfalls” video by scourging my mom’s makeup bin. Everyone had a bottle of CK One and a bunch of Lip Smackers floating around in their locker. And sadly, I too had “the Rachel” haircut. Come to think of it, every haircut I had in the ’90s was based off of something I saw on “Friends” – which was “Must See TV” for me. By 1999, I think everyone I knew, girl and boy alike, had sported some type of blond highlights.
Even scarier than the highlights was the eerie theme song to my favorite show, Unsolved Mysteries. My crush on Fox Mulder still didn’t keep me from feeling terrified on Friday nights after watching the X Files. Just curl me up with the latest Fear Street novel and you had the trifecta of terror. Let’s not even talk about the time I accidentally saw part of “Tales from the Crypt.”
For some lighter TV fare, you could count on TGIF. If you always thought Cory and Topanga were meant to be, then you know what I mean. While Clarissa explained it all on Nick, I wondered Where in the World is Carmen Santiago. My younger cousins and I could compare notes on whether Doug would finally admit his crush on Patty Mayonnaise. Of course, Zack and Kelly worked through different struggles when they broke up at “The Last Dance.”
No other channel got more of my attention in the ’90s than MTV. I watched the premiere of every new music video. We actually went to parties just to watch the Top 20 Countdown. At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of the change in music, but the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Jeremy” music videos mesmerized me anyway. I felt like I spent my summer vicariously enjoying the sun and sand at the MTV Beach House. The Real World gave me a peek inside a much older, crazier world that I wasn’t yet a part of. Waiting for a ride to school, I watched The Grind. Why were those people dancing on the beach at 7 a.m., anyway?
For fun, we’d hang by the Lititz Springs Pool snacking on Fun Dip, Hi-C, and Handi-Snacks. Or play MASH to predict the future. Would I live in a mansion, drive a red car, be a lawyer and marry Jordan Catalano? The only way to build the best mixed tape was to listen to the Weekly Top 40 with your finger hovering over the record button.
I’ll never forget the audible gasp of a theater full of 16-year-old teenage girls as we gazed upon the first appearance of Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet. That sure brought our 10th grade reading material to life. I was always waiting for something “epic” to happen at each Sweet 16 dance party while K-Ci and Jo-Jo sang “All My Life.” I even danced the Macarena once or twice. I raced home from school to chat with my friends on AOL, impatiently waiting for the dial-up connection (skreeeeeeeeeeee). All my parents had to do was follow the twisted cord to find me chatting on the phone after hours.
For me, the ’90s was full of copious amounts of teenage angst (a la Angela Chase), but I love to travel back there in my memories. I had so much material for this blog, I had trouble knowing when to call it quits! All you other ‘90s fans out there – what else did I miss? How could Green Day have been so right when they sang, “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right, I hope you had the time of your life.”