The First Time I Got Drunk – A Parable

Seems an odd thing to blog about, I know.  However… this incident happened in the 80’s and plays a big part in who I am.  Rather than sit here and regurgitate 80’s crap you are already familiar with like: stickers, video games and Madonna (and we 80’s heads love all these things!) I thought I’d share a bit of personal nostalgia.

Sharon Howard will be guest blogging here on The Great 80’s soon.  Stay tuned for that.  Her blog is awesome for a  lot of reasons.  Two of them being: She writes and lives in England! 😀  Her guest blog will reflect on growing up 80’s in England.  I am looking forward to hearing all about it.

Now, on with the show!

Rational people usually learn that if they do something (A) and it turns out a not so pleasant experience (B), then (A) no longer fits in their lifestyle because (B) is no fun.  Right?

Right… for rational people this applies.

For people like me (slightly neurotic, alcoholic (sober!), obsessive, and with an alarming lack of common sense) rational thinking is was a foreign concept.

Let’s  take the first time I got drunk.  I was thirteen, gangly and had a severe lack of self-esteem.  On the flip side of that: I was taller than the average bear, athletic and silly. These traits offset each other, which I believe lead to the perception that I was a) normal and b) not to be messed with.

It was a cool night and my sister and I happened to finally get to hang out with Julie who did not live on the street.  Hell, she didn’t even live in the same neighborhood.  Julie’s brother Charlie got us two six-packs of Budweiser from the Cannonball Tavern.  I sat there staring at the cans of beer.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? What’s gonna happen?

After about three hours of drinking and acting like imbeciles.. the three of us walked back down to my neighborhood.  I think I uttered the words  “I’m straight” at least 25 times (implying that I was not inebriated).  The three of us made it to the neighborhood park where we sat on the steps.

We sat on those steps because I had a moment of clarity. I was 13, drunk and I had to go home.  The short version of this was: I was deader ‘an dead meat.  As I sat there I had a revelation.

We could walk to the candy store and get Lemonhead’s, soda and play pinball. THAT would get us (or me at least – I was feeling very narcissistic at this point) feeling better and home safe.

Well, the whole night just went downhill.  I managed to make an ass out of myself in front of a boy I liked.  I fell (twice) and cracked my head on the step (which I just told my mother about this past Thanksgiving).  When I made it home, my mother was still awake and asked me a series of questions which required me to answer with a lot of words that contained the letter “S” which came out like “shth” of sorts.  Shthe knew there was shthomething wrong with me.  Shthe had to! 

Well, my mother didn’t beat me.  I really thought she would.  In fact, she never said anything to me. I wonder about this. Maybe she didn’t know?

For the remainder of the school year, I had a lump on my head the size of an egg (and probably a concussion) and was called “two-can Sam” by everyone.

Have you ever done something that embarrassed you?  How did you handle it? Do you laugh about it now?



One thing I loved about growing up in the 80’s was… stickers! I started collecting stickers when I was about eleven.  There was this little store called Fluff ‘N’ Stuff that had a ton of Hello Kitty stuff strewn throughout the aisles of the little cove in the Neshaminy Mall.  Among the Hello Kitty garb and shiny, glittery things were… stickers!

Now, these stickers were not prepackaged for anyone to just go up and pluck from the rack.  No, no no… These stickers were on rolls behind the counter.  We had to really give it a lot of thought.  Did we want the scratch ‘n sniff or the puffy sticker?  Did we want Strawberry Shortcake or that other pickle sticker to complete our fruit/veggie page in our beloved sticker book?

Sometimes the pickle stickers were scratch and sniff and that was not really a great smell.

Here is a link for an 80’s Sticker Albums! group on Facebook.  Insane peeps (I can only speak for myself here) trade stories and pictures of stickers from yesterdecade and I really don’t know what else to say about it.  For some reason  I am feeling a small amount of shame right now.  Sounds like someone needs a banana sniffy sticker!  😉

In the 80’s, stickers kept us kids busy for hours. The meticulous choice (sometimes we’d buy two of the same if we really liked it and knew someone else would want one) was at times painstakingly tedious.  The thought process was something like, “I’ll get two of these Smurfette stickers.  I remember Mary saying she needed one and I know she’ll give me that Rainbow Brite sticker I had my eye on.”  This was followed by a quiet moo ha ha along with a wringing of the hands.  As long as I had the best stickers (which I most times did because my grandmother spoiled me rotten) Mary was mine!  The puffy ones were the most fun along with those round shiny ones that often times had unicorns or Pegasuses on them.

I almost bought my daughter a sticker album and a sheet of stickers for Christmas this year.  That was until my boyfriend reminded me that she was sixteen and not that interested.

“Trust me,” he said.

I choked back the tears.  Then had some ice cream and got over it.  Almost.

Did you collect stickers when you were a kid?  Maybe you collected something else then or now?

I’d love to hear from you.

All images courtesy of Branded In The 80’s

Christmas in the 80’s

Home Sweet Home

I was a kid/teenager through the 80’s.  Family was important.  Every holiday my parents, siblings and I would pack up in the freezing cold car (often times a 72 Ford with no heat) and after driving the streets of Philadelphia to look at Christmas lights, we would head on over to the Grams and Gramps.

Christmas Day was my Mom’s parents.

Christmas Day Night was my Dad’s parents.

My sis, bro and I made out well at each one.

Now, at my Gram Folo’s… we got things we needed.  Like… socks.  Individually wrapped pairs of socks.  I was utterly cool with this because my Gram ‘Folo (mom’s mom) was my favorite grandmother.  She gave me so much stuff all year-long.   Excited was an understatement just to see her on Christmas Day and stuff myself with mountains of homemade peanut butter cookies, meatballs and pasketti.. you get the gist.  There was family packing the place with loud Italian voices and beer. Lots of beer.

We left there (socks in tow) and headed to my other Gram’s.  My dad’s mom.  Gram Steelman.

That is where my sister and I (and my little bro – – much later) made out like bandits!

We received gifts like – – –

Sony Walkman’s

Barbie Dream House



Brook Shields Barbie Doll (yes!!)

Def Leppard – Pyromania

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon

My sister and I also got to eat even more food.  We got to eat ham, German potato salad, sauerkraut and beans.  At my Gram Steelman’s .. my Grampop Steelman would set up this giant elaborate train set all through the living room and we would watch the trains go ’round and ’round for hours while Christmas Music played over the speakers in the parlor.

Really great memories that my family and I (all my grandparents have passed away) will talk about this Christmas and Christmas’s to come.

What are some wonderful Holiday Memories you have as a child?

Epic Music That Plays In My Background

A moment ago I was on Facebook (aka the ultimate slacker tool) and as I clicked on different pages I liked… “using your cellphone as a flashlight” and “don’t’ talk to me before my coffee” I clicked on one I really liked.

I wish background music played during epic moments of my life (and not just in movies).

And let’s think about that for a moment.  Sometimes I really do pretend there is background music playing during certain moments in my day.  Ok, maybe not epic per say, but they are definitely moments that have significance.  Honestly?  None of the moments are epic.  But pretending there is background music during these moments, makes them almost epic.


For example.. when I drive to work I listen to my ipod via my car stereo.  Sometimes really cool 80’s tunes come on.  And as I drive (or sit in traffic – which is more often the case) the song “In The Air Tonight” comes on and I chill back in my seat a tad as my hand drapes over the steering wheel.  I am “uber cool” in that moment. Dark sunglasses and a white blazer are the only things that would cement my coolness.

Even better? Driving a car that isn’t a ’99 Pontiac that no longer has working heat.  But I digress.

And then… I am walking down the cereal aisle of the supermarket, about to decide between Apple Jacks and Lucky Charms for my daughter.  I suddenly go into to slow motion as my head turns (in a most sexy way) and bam! “Still of the Night” bellows.

You get the gist.  Non-epic moments in my life made epic just by adding a killer background track.

Maybe you have a song or two that plays (or you wish played) during some moments in your life.  Care to share?


Pinball Anyone?

I was reading Pat Henzy’s 365 Days of Illustration blog a bit ago.  The post of the day regarded pinball.  Pinball!  I loved pinball in the 80’s.  Arcades were huge in the 80’s. One arcade I remember most of all was in the back of the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philly, PA.  It was called Champions.

So, as I sat here relaxing after a November NaNo fest… I was reading blogs and I told you already where the post idea came from.

There was a pinball game I absolutely loved.  I am sure most people of the 80’s pinball era loved it as well.

The game called HIGH SPEED.

The first time I ever played the game of HIGH SPEED was at the lottery store down the street from where I lived (the cool thing about living in the city – easy access to arcades and candy stores!).  This lottery store is where I honed my pinball skills, drank carton iced tea with a straw and started hanging with boys that were older than me (a little too old!).

The goal of the game was to rack up points of course.. but the one thing we all loved the most and were envied for and envious of was…. when we got that red siren at the top to go off.  That was when hell broke loose and two or three more balls would shoot out and we had to keep ’em going for as long as we could.

Looking back, the best part of the era was the friendly competition between us kids and just the hanging out, really.

Did you have any favorite arcade/pinball games as a kid?

I Learned by Watching Kermit

Piggy and Kermie - Froggy Love

Most of us have heard of the book, Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  I actually never read the whole book.  I have this bad habit of getting into a book and if it bores me for more than two pages or I find something else an octave more exciting to do, the book gets put down.  I am sure all the books I have put down half way through have their own support group going at this point.

BPDBD Group – Books Put Down By Darlene (she really did like you!)

Ok, I’m getting loopy.

My point is… almost everything I have learned in my entire life, yes, my entire life, I learned from watching Muppets.

Sharing, caring, winning, losing, spelling, grumpiness, selfishness, hedonism, lust, jealousy… yeah, it’s starting to sound like the throwback pile for the dwarf that would not be.

I learned obsession and cruel jealousy from watching Miss Piggy swoon and curse over Kermie.  I remember one episode when Kermit was to do a duet with a woman (Linda Rondstadt I think) and Miss Piggy locked her in a closet! Miss Piggy… why?  I loved it when Kermie went virtually insane that he would run screaming off the stage or set, arms flailing… AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I learned spazzing from Grover and Animal, grouchiness from Oscar and the goons in the balcony, Silliness from Ernie, Seriousness from Bert (which sounds and acts a lot like Squidward of Spongebob Squarepants).  And I learned all about feelings: happy, sad, hurt, angry from the one and only Big Bird.

But my most favorite Muppet of them all is and will always be Kermit the Frog.  He is on the November 11th cover of Entertainment Weekly.  Go!  Check him out in all his handsome greenness.

Remember…. “it ain’t easy being green.”

Were you able to identify with any Muppet characters when you were a child?  How about as an adult?

Have a happy weekend 80’s heads!

Classic 80’s Horror Movies – Watch Them Again.

image courtesy of:

Spooky Spooky!

October is here!  Time for jackets, apple cider and corn mazes (make sure you have your cellphone on you!) to really bring out the autumn in us all.

October is time for something else.  Halloween.  Halloween means…. Horror movies.  Now, I know we can watch horror movies any time we feel like.  However, there is something special about curling up on the couch in late October with a giant bowl of popcorn and a fuzzy blanket to watch movies that scare the crap out of us.

What’s up with that?

Here are some classic 80’s horror movies:

Halloween – Released in 1978, this movie became a cult classic in the 80’s.  I like this one because Jamie Lee Curtis is not a sniveling “woe is me” protagonist.  She is quite the match for Michael Myers and is not a cocky bitch about it.

Amityville Horror – Actually released in 1979, it is based on a true story (creeeeepy).  Dad goes nuts in an evil house and kills his family.  Anytime I see a house with attic windows like the house in the movie I am instantly freaked out.

Poltergeist – Family moves to new house, house is creepy, family calls in even creepier lady to see what the heck is going on.  “Go into the liiiight.”  “Stay out of the liiiight.”  Make up your mind lady!

Cujo – Rabid dog goes apeshit.  Only Stephen King could write this story so well that it isn’t cheesy.  Made into a damn good creepy dog movie.

A Nightmare on Elm Street – Johnny Depp is in this one and if you weren’t a Depp fan, you might not even realize it.  Why do we sleep?  For rest!  Well, if you are a child of a person that lynched the ‘evil dream guy’ you might never wake up.

The Shining – Leave it to Stephen King to write an amazing story about a cooped up writer.  Jack Nicholson nails the part of the “writer gone bananas” in this classic flick.  Shelley Duvall is perfect in the mealy-mouthed wifey poo part.

Yeah, Stephen King’s “awesome novels made into awesome movies” got two picks… he is the King of Horror after all.

What are some of your fave 80’s horror flicks?  I know there are a ton of creepy horror movies.. like Zombie movies, which my dear blogger friend Sonia G. Medeiros blogged about earlier.  Check out her wickedly cool zombie post!

Happy Spookiness!