1. Creepy Crawlers.
Creepy Crawlers were a kid’s dream and, in retrospect, probably a parent’s nightmare. Trying to imagine kids making Creepy Crawlers now, only one image comes to mind: crack. Even back then, I bet it looked like we were cooking up some crack. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if that stuff was crack. I’m just happy to be alive. #blessed
…or was that just me? Except no, I couldn’t have been the only one into spying because Harriet The Spy was upon us and I KNOW kids were down with that. Me? I was hooked. Letting neither my Harriet The Spy marble notebook nor my binoculars out of sight, I uncovered some thrilling information: my sister’s nail polish color, for example, her outfit for the 4th of July, and a sneaking suspicion that she was having a lesbian affair with her best friend.
3. Devil Sticks.
How were Devil Sticks cool? But more importantly, how was I so good at them? I was five-going-on-six years old, and I could do a one-handed helicopter with my Devil Sticks. But back to my primary concern: how were they cool? I’d saunter my way into school, devil sticks in one hand and a very neglect-worthy sticker collection in the other, and I was IN. The devil sticks were in, we were all in, as I gracefully peaked.
4. Gooey Louie.
Was it that we were generally just dumber back then? Like, as a population? Or was it that our standards were just terribly low? I imagine my parents were thrilled when they learned how cheap I was to please, but were they not concerned in the slightest? When I spent four hours playing Gooey Louie by myself, did “shock therapy” never once cross their minds?
5. AOL profiles.
What I would give — what we would ALL give — to be able to unearth our AOL profiles. I have a hunch that mine featured a quote or two from The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy),” and I’m pretty sure yours did too. Don’t be shy; lord knows I don’t want to be alone on this one, and let’s not kid ourselves here: the lyrics were prolific. But honestly, the most disturbing AOL profiles were that of young boys — boys my age at the time (seven, eight), who would write about doggy-style sex they never had.
6. Swing Dancing.
I’m thinking, and wondering, and mulling over why this was a “thing”…and I keep coming up dry. Was it the unchartered territory of swing dancing that we found so alluring? Or was it the prospect of being vaguely intimate with someone? It confounds me to this day, probably because my only knowledge on the topic is as follows: My best friend in 3rd grade had a swing dancing party and the entire event, from start to finish, was salacious.
7. Ren and Stimpy.
No I’m actually being serious now; what kind of sick joke was this? It is crack, disguised as a TV show.
8. Collecting Ads.
Everyone hates commercials now, but where were all of the naysayers when we needed them, hmm? When we would spend hours at a time reorganizing our binders full of Absolut and “Got Milk?” Ads (and now I’m reminded of “binders of full of women,” which this is not, but also not entirely not). They were hours spent wastefully, hours in which we ogled over a bottle of vodka lying in a bed of flowers, or ironically wearing a tux. Hours that I’m PRETTY sure contributed to my (poor) SAT score, and hours of my life that I want back. Is that so unfair to ask for?
90s sitcoms were weird enough; Steve Urkel was weird enough. But Stefan? Urkel’s hot, strapping alter-ego? The fucking weirdest. But hot too. Which made for a very confused little me as I grew up watching Family Matters. Stefan trips a kid UP. He emerges out of nowhere, scarcely, but triumphantly every time, and just as mysteriously slips back into glasses and suspenders. Stefan: Are you there? Who are you? Are you single?
10. Clueless the TV show.
The 90s had a habit of taking something great…and killing it. They loved a good TV show spin-off of a popular movie, and, in the wake of Clueless‘ success, they held onto it and decided to never let go. The only problem was that Stacey Dash and Donald Faison were the only actors from Clueless (the movie) who signed on to the spin-off. The result was a convoluted Clueless; Clueless: The Twilight Zone, wherein everyone looked and sounded like an inbred version of their original selves.
11. Tweens/teens and stuffed animals.
Who remembers that awesome stuffed animal fad that older girls sucked the teat of? And of course by older girls I mean girls that had just gotten their periods, and now that I’m thinking about it this was actually really weird. It was the time of Beanie Babies, of Clueless, of 10 Things I Hate About You and Baby Spice. That is, it was a time when everyone was about pedophile-bait-chic.
12. MTV Spring Break.
We still have spring break coverage and, while I don’t watch MTV anymore, I’d venture to guess that they’re still the pioneers in this field of righteous journalism. Because nothing will ever come close to MTV’s Spring Break in the 90s. I remember them as if I was actually there, when in reality I was watching it from my parent’s bedroom, just really engrossed. There were fashion show-concert hybrids and live Jerry Springer shows — all in Cancun! There was 98 Degrees, Carmen Electra and, best of all, no Instagram.