String Racer Ad

Oh yeah! Looks cool doesn't it? We're talking major tangleage right out of the box, plus the fact that you could never get it to go all the way. It'd always get stuck in the middle.

Sweat Pants are Cool

Clothing really isn't that important to me, and the same was true for the 8-year-old me (except underwear choice, of course, which is top priority). If I was dressing fancy, like the "Jr. Mr. Executive" thing I had going, that was one thing. But if I was going casual, at school or at home, just a pair of sweat pants, some velcro sneaks, and a dinosaur or Indian t-shirt was all I needed (in the winter, exchange dinosaur or Indian t-shirt for dinosaur or Indian sweatshirt).

I'm a guy, so I don't know the first thing about the first thing about this thing they call "fashion," nor am I going to pretend like I do. But I know what I used to wear back in the day, and I can tell you right now, it was probably not of this Earth. Here's a little rundown of the typical getup I used to assemble on a daily basis, head to toe:

Head and accessories: a blindingly neon-ed out bicycle cap with patterns, and designs, and inevitable checkerboards. The idea was to be seen from a mile away, or boss mode, from space. Add some dark shades to these and you were styling in a way you'd never come to regret later for sure. Fanny packs only for the not-so-faint of heart (yeah, even back then). Sonic or Nintendo watch was also a must, especially to make your friends jealous.

Upper body: inevitable sweater. If not, then inevitable T-shirt. Baggy clothes were in, in, in. They were everywhere, from the sweaters with the extra fuzz that the girls used to wear, to the bulky "Fresh Prince" rapper-style white T's that hung down to the guys' knees, and the cotton windbreakers you could wear around the house. They usually came in a few basic colors too: white, neon green/yellow/pink (even for guys), and girly "pastel" (if you squint your eyes, it could be any color). Mixed in were random shapes or patterns, black splotches, or some other middle-class "urban" pastiche.

Lower body: sweatpants and velcro sneaks, because shoelaces = work. I wore sweat pants probably 90% of the time, but don't you mock. It was actually fashionable, and really fun to fart in. Everyone was wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants (and headbands) because... we all just became joggers I guess. My sweat pants cache came in a variety of colors I could hopelessly mismatch with my t-shirt colors (again, not a problem in the 90s), basically comprising all the primary ones (except yellow, I was NOT that dorky!). I preferred black though... after all, it goes with anything. The waistbands were snapable and perfect for a good old fashioned wedgie. Although I will say, looking back, sweat pants were never much help in the restroom.

Clothing back then sure was comfortable, and in any situation, no matter how awkward. And that's what being a guy is all about, being comfortable no matter how awkward, just like the Hanes commercial said. Maybe that's what being a 90s kid is all about too.


Timmy was dork.
Like most 90's kids, I've spent a good third of my life thinking about Jurassic Park--learning only from years of a slow and painful maturation that there's more to it than all those awesome big-screen dinosaurs wreaking serious havoc. In fact, it's about people too. But until today, one aspect of the people side has always eluded me. I had a moment of intense "ohhhhh!!" today, because I finally got the Doyouthinkhesaurus joke.

The scene goes like this (and trust me, I have the film memorized, so I know): 

Timmy: What do you call a blind dinosaur?
Dr. Grant: ... I don't know, what do you call a blind dinosaur?
Timmy: Doyouthinkhesaurus? What do you call a blind dinosaur's dog?
Dr. Grant: You got me.
Timmy: Doyouthinkhesaurus Rex!

For the record, it wasn't the "Rex" part, and no, I didn't think it was an actual dinosaur name!

School's In Session

Whenever the school year starts up, I'm reminded of why it's good to be 24 (...because I have to be reminded). School really is "out forever," and the kid-in-me's dream is realized. However, I wouldn't have been a true dork as a kid if I wasn't also slightly excited about going back. Granted, I wouldn't have complained if summer went on forever, of course, but if I had to leave it anyways, I used to figure I might as well embrace the change. And admit it, sometimes getting back to the grind, showing off your new jeans and pencil sharpener, and flopping down on a plastic seat before a chalkboard (rather than a couch before a TV), has its own charms too.

So it's back to TI-108 calculators and Weekly Readers, to colored notebooks and Trapper Keepers--back to cafeteria followed by recess, plastic trays and tater tots followed by rope swings and metal slides--back to girls with their Lisa Frank backpacks and boys with their Sketchers Hot Lights--back to classroom fish and "Great Job!" stickers, to strange clapping games and sitting on the carpet, to Crayola 45-packs, scented markers, and Sharpies you can get high from smelling--back to dorky, colorful cutouts of happy ethnically and capably diverse kids gracing the covers of everything like no other reality is allowed.

It's back to music class "recorders" and maracas, art class scrubs and sponges, gym class bean bags and "stretching stations"--back to having a desk with your name on it and a tiny shelf space underneath where you can store your notebooks, glasses case, retainer, and used gum (for later)--back to "show and tell" where the only act you really care about is your own--back to a place where the bathroom is officially called "the boys'/girls' room" and you have to sign a piece of paper just to go to it, or "bring along a friend." Yes. It's back to learning stuff you'll be forgetting in time for next summer.

Actually no, it would be all that if this was September of '94. It's obviously not, so my guess is as good as yours as to what  kids these days are going back to. But with all that going on, you both wonder why you left it, and already know the answer.


I think I've been an insomniac all my life. These days I can play online as late as I want, but the 8-year-old me used to have to lie awake in bed all night under the glow-in-the-dark moons and Saturns on the ceiling, overhearing the night sounds outside and making pictures from the shadows cast by the nightlight. (It had a cover that looked like a bay window with the shades down, and late at night I used to stare at it wondering what it'd be like to live in that little house with that tiny bulb.) Yes, I had a nightlight. And you didn't?

Anyways, my brother and I had bunk beds, and mine was the top bunk with a slide... (once again... yes, I had a slide). We used to yack tirelessly back and forth for a couple hours every night... about what, who knows... stupid stuff like the deadliest poison dart frogs or the funniest lines from Jurassic Park and The Lion King. Usually a fart factored in at some point, which depending on the culprit, was then sought to be matched by the other. Ah, the joys of brotherhood. There's nothing funnier than things that go "bbrrrp" in the night!

But then the merriment would begin to wane, and sometimes he wouldn't want to be bothered. And when he drifted off, I'd be chilling with the little glow-in-the-dark galaxies and Saturns over my head, staring into the nightlight like the guy in Eraserhead, and trying to make heads or tails of what was going on outside. I'd hear things like train horns blasting fathoms away, cars passing on the road, late night concerts or whatever that strange distant music was, random cats mewing and hooligans cavorting. To my 8-year-old brain, every random sound was probably dinosaurs trampsing around, UFOs skirting up the street, random cops blowing whistles, and the monster alien Xenomorph from the movie Alien standing around biting things like fences and snapping telephone lines. All this at once, of course. The night was damn noisy.

Then I'd close my eyes and I see random images flashing through my head like everything was going on fast-forward. I'd remember scenes from movies, but they'd all be going in fast forward. I'd make up scenes that never happened in Jurassic Park and sit back and "watch them" play. I'd turn over and stare at the wall, which was a particle board slab we stored between the bed and the wall, and I'd make shapes out of the different pieces of wood stuck in it, make characters out of them and send them on adventures. I'd turn over and stare at the closet in the dark and try to see if I could make things move with my mind. I don't know if I ever got to sleep.

And of course the whole time I'm thinking about how thirsty I am. I'm thinking about that liter of soda sitting in the fridge. It's Sprite. Damn it would be good to have it. Oh, I'd take Orange Juice. I'd take water for goodness sakes. But there it is, all the way over there in the fridge, sitting nice and cold on the top shelf in the dark. I'm parched! I got to get up and get it! But then again, it's dark and scary. What's the shadow over there? Did I just hear a television switch on at the other end of the house? Who would be watching television at this time of night? If someone is up then it's not so scary. But then again, what if nobody's up? What if the television turned itself on? Or what if I'm not hearing a television at all? What if I'm going crazy? It's dark and it's scary. I better not get up. But damn am I thirsty!

Okay, I'll get up and go get it, ghosts or no ghosts, aliens or no aliens. So I slowly go to turn in bed and "KRKREECHH" goes the bed! Oh drats! I move an inch toward the slide, and "SNAP" goes the slide. "FFFSHHH!" and down I go. Every little step is like a thunder clap. I'm planning out my steps like I'm passing a lava field, because every little step is going to wake the entire world. I don't want to have to explain myself when I wake up everyone in the house. They're getting tired of me walking around in the middle of the night. But after about twenty minutes of standing around the darkness, inching one step at a time through the house, I make it to the fridge and "oh yes!" it's good. The fridge's light beams out like heaven. Oh glorious fridge light! But then the long journey back. Then the creaky ladder back up to my bunk. Then the creaky bed springs. Then... oh damn it, I gotta go!

And on and on... and on and on, and on it goes. Hours pass. You start to hear birds chirping out the window and you know it's got to be turning to daylight. Only a few more hours of this! Hooray! Enough of this torture! And right when you're just starting to enjoy yourself for the first time in ages... zzzzz. Totally out cold.

My brother would be the first one up in the morning. He'd jump up and start emptying huge crates of Legos out all over the floor, sending a cascading waterfall of plastic pieces straight into my ear holes at 5am! At that point I'd roll over and in a strained voice say "Shhh! I'm trying to sleep!"