Remembering 1986

The Girl in the Park is based on the story of “The Preppie Murder,” which took place in 1986. I decided not to set the book in the 80s, because I thought that would be ancient history to most readers. And frankly, the 80s were not a decade I loved. Big hair, shoulder pads, Ron and Nancy…it was the era when greed was good. We were all little Material Girls and Boys, watching Dallas (the first one) and Dynasty. And if others were struggling with things like AIDS or homelessness, well, don’t worry, be happy. (Yep, that was an actual hit song for those of you lucky enough not to remember it.)

Writing The Girl in the Park took me back to that time, so I decided to look up the actual events of 1986. It was the year when…

Ronald Reagan was president.

The New York Mets won the World Series.

Nintendo video games hit America.

The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts.

More than 1.5 million black South Africans strike in protest of apartheid.

In Europe, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals dumps 1000 tons of toxic chemicals into the Rhine, killing millions of fish and contaminating water supplies.

Insider trading scandals rock Wall Street. Ivan Boesky pleads guilty to being tipped off about upcoming mergers. (Imagine! We actually prosecuted people on Wall Street!)

More than 60,000 U.S. farms are sold or foreclosed.

Cary Grant dies. (See what I mean? This decade sucked.)

“That’s What Friends Are For” is a hit song for reasons I can’t explain. Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” video is in constant play on MTV. Some of us are still obsessing about Bruce Springsteen’s album cover for Born in the USA.

Madonna and Sean Penn are married—although not for long.

Whitney Houston is young, gorgeous, and insanely talented. Which is how I like to remember her.

Big movies are Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Top Gun, and Pretty in Pink. For those who like dark and serious, there’s Blue Velvet and Platoon.

I felt fairly meh about every single one of those movies. But I loved Sid and Nancy. The 80s did give us Gary Oldman.

What do you remember about the 80s? If the answer is, “Nothing, I wasn’t born yet!” what do you think about them? Do they seem like a lot more fun than now? Or…strangely similar? All I can say is, Be glad you missed the spandex. It wasn’t pretty.


6 thoughts on “Remembering 1986

  1. Laureli says:

    In the book “In the Cards”, what tarot deck are they using?

    • I based all the descriptions on the Rider Waite deck. The kids are using the ten card spread with the first six cards positioned in a cross pattern, with the remaining four cards in a vertical line to one side.

      Thanks for writing!

  2. Laureli says:

    And what spread?

  3. Oh…I am going to leave the Tarot Topic, even though I thought I could read them in the nineties.

    The Eighties. An interesting time to grow up, if only for the contrast to the Seventies. I was just saying to Mr. H that in some funny way, we were lucky to grow up in these decades. Sure the transition from the macramé spider plant holder to the calla lily in a black vase could be considered a shock to the system. But it was kind of good to have both, even if both decades were kind of a mess. Less was planned and demanded of us as children and teens. Parents were present, but not managing our every move. And all of the social and political things that were around us could, in the right setting, get us thinking. (That said, I was terrified of Nuclear War and those Made-for-TV movies did not help.)

    Things I remember loving in the eighties:

    – Early U2
    – The Cure
    – The Studio Line of Hair Product (although Hair was not the decade’s strong suit)
    – Molly Ringwald
    – Working at the Gap (weird, I know)
    – Depeche Mode
    – The Sugarcubes
    – Licensed to Ill (still do)
    – The Cosby Show, but when they went out the back door of their mid-block brownstone, where were they going??
    – The J. Crew Catalog
    – Plaid, headbands, beat up penny loafers
    – Fatal Attraction
    – When Harry Met Sally

    Hmmm…not such a bad list, I guess. But there was plenty that was pretty bad, too. But I think that is the deal all of the time. So, maybe it is best to just focus on the good stuff and try one’s best to deal with the bad stuff.

    Thanks for reminding me to remember!


    • The major difference in our perspectives stems from the fact that you were cool enough to benefit from the positive music and style trends of the era and I was really, really not. I was stuck in a Cyndi Lauper/Broadways musical mode and rotting Keds and destroyed jeans were my apparel de choix. Oh, wait, I had a brief moment with The Smiths, so I wasn’t a total lost cause. Although, I do feel history has proved me right about Molly RIngwald.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: