I’m excited to share this guest post by Felicia Capers, the author I’ve partnered with for the upcoming Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27. After connecting over our shared bond as children of the 80s, Felicia was kind enough to write this ode to the 80s on childhood experiences that shaped her as an author. Make sure to check back later this month when we will be giving away a copy of her book!
80’s Made Writer
Being an only child for seven long hard years just tore me to pieces. I mean to smithereens, shreds, broken fragments of yesterday reflecting on today’s-enough of the drama already….
I am certain that for the seven years before my sibling was born, I was fine. I was a normal private school attending, long bippity boppity ponytail wearing, skinny as toothpicks, little girl. It was the early 80’s and I can recall seeing Ronald Reagan on television in a really nice neat suit several times a week. I didn’t know why I had seen him so much back then but I get it totally now. Let’s see, there were always my favorite dolls to keep me company: JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS! Can I tell you how much I loved JEM and her squad? From the pink rocker hair to the tour bus accessory my mom had saved up to buy for me, those were the days. And in my world called my room, JEM and friends were way cooler than those stinky Thundercats.
Next up were my tea sets. Oh how I loved to wear my mom’s heels (I swear I think she sported four inches every day to her office job) and hats and sit down at that round pink tea table with all that fake china and sip my even faker tea. Usually tea parties came after I’d watch an episode of the A-Team on Saturday afternoons or the Cosby Show on Thursday nights. Some of my other favorite shows were Different Strokes, ALF, The Wonder Years, Full House, and Saved by the Bell (Mario Lopez hasn’t aged a bit, but I have. I don’t know how I feel about that fact.) Of all my shows, my favorite 1980’s TV discovery was none other than MTV! Yes, I’d sneak into the living room when my mom was asleep. Yes, I’d turn the volume down extra low so I’d have to sit so close up on the screen to hear that my nose was touching. And yes, I’d scream on the inside when my favorite videos played. I loved everything Bobby Brown in those days. Michael Jackson came in a close second. (Yes she had all the Michael Jackson albums. And albums meant records and record players people!)
Secluded in my room surrounded by Rainbow Bright, Teddy Ruckspin and the pegs to my Lite Brite, I had a lot of time to imagine. Who didn’t set their dolls up around their tea table for a tea party? Well I did that too, but what was fascinating to me, now looking back all those many many many years ago, is I also had a note pad. There were no fancy password journals and my mother couldn’t afford those lock and key journals. I’d rip papers from a school notebook, grab a dull pencil and make up stories. Jem would have an affair with Ken and upset Barbie. Then the Cabbage Patch dolls would all fight over who would get to bake the last brownie in the Easy Bake oven. I’d set up my toys in an effort to make them ready for action and I’d write the stories, play by play. I do believe a writer was being groomed!
Later, I learned to explore my imagination between the pages of classics by Ann M. Martin. You guessed it: THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB series. My friends and I traded these books like baseball cards and Bazooka gum on a muggy summer day. Oddly enough, required school reading intrigued me more than it did my peers. Classics like The Good Earth,The Outsiders and Lord of the Flies (which I was happy to read twice, what a dweeb I was) gave glimpses into adventures that I assumed awaited me just outside my small bedroom window.
As I got older, and put away girlish play, I traded it for big girl panties- in the form of a laptop computer, hours long client meetings to tweak a manuscript, large cups of coffee, two hours of sleep and matted hair because the night before I just couldn’t rip myself away from the salacious scene I’d been writing, and expensive cigars and red wine to celebrate the sendoff of a final manuscript to my editor.
Felicia Capers is the publisher and author of Enough of Frankie Already! an anti-bullying book for young readers. To learn more about Felicia and upcoming projects, visit her on the web at http://www.frankiethebully.com. Contact Felicia directly for more information on this topic and other writing topics in general. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you play with any of these 80s toys? Share your favorite childhood toy memories in the comments!