I like to think that I had a pretty great childhood. I played pickup hoops in the cul-de-sac with my friends, I plastered my room with posters, and I dressed up as a Power Ranger, Indiana Jones, and Troy Aikman on Halloweens. Oh, and my parents stayed together and loved me. That was cool, too. But for whatever reason, there were a few things that I just somehow didn’t experience, and it seems as if everyone else my age did. This kind of bums me out sometimes.
My parents were pretty big sticklers when it came to letting me watch TV shows with “questionable content.” Granted, they seemed to have no problem letting me watch Sean Connery fight and fuck his way through communists who wanted to kill him, but for some reason, sarcasm and scatalogical humor just didn’t sit well with them. As a result, The Simpsons were completely banned from our home. I later found my fix with South Park and Family Guy, which I would watch over at my buddy’s house, but for some reason, The Simpsons just kind of passed me by. When FXX picked up the show last year and everyone my age went nuts about the whole “every Simpsons episode ever marathon,” I sat back and viewed the hullabaloo as an impartial observer. Sure, at this point in my life, I’ve seen a couple of episodes, but they’ve all been from the later seasons that every die-hard Simpsons fan says just aren’t the same quality. I’ve seen quick clips of people’s favorite jokes (“My eyes! The goggles do nothing!”) but out of context, they’re really just mildly amusing more than anything else. I don’t think missing out on the show had a hugely detrimental impact on my comedic sensibility, but the fact that some of the greatest comedic minds in the history of television worked on The Simpsons at one time or another does leave me with the occasional twinge of regret.
There’s no real, concrete reason that the distinct lack of Lunchables in my childhood should be any kind of big deal. I mean, they’re basically vacuum-sealed boxes of processed cardboard feces. My mom is a phenomenal cook, which I’ve definitely come to appreciate as an adult. But when you’re a kid and all of your friends are unpacking these overpriced, yellow boxes of middle class culinary laziness, you feel a bit left out.
It’s one of those cultural things that makes so little sense in hindsight that it’s almost impossible to suss out exactly what we were thinking. Every generation has it. Hell, Elaine’s hair styles and her entire wardrobe on Seinfeld are basically a time capsule of the “What the fuck were we thinking?” in women’s fashion in the ‘90s. Going off of this, my parents never caved and allowed me to channel my inner Backstreet Boy. Did they seem to have an objective understanding that the concept of making only the very tips of your hair look like short strands of albino linguini was inherently foolish? Obviously. I still wish they would have let me indulge myself a bit, though. I mean, I already had the baggy polo, metal necklace, and super relaxed jeans, so it’s not like reflecting on my adolescence is safe from cringe-inducing aesthetics.
The other things on this list are of moderate importance compared to this. In fact, I’m so ashamed of what I’m about to admit, I honestly spent hours agonizing over whether I was comfortable putting it in. Okay, here it goes. I didn’t see Jurassic Park until I was…twenty-three. That’s right. I didn’t see one of the best movies from the decade I grew up in until nearly twenty years after it was released. I honestly have no idea how I missed it. I saw every other movie that’s in Jurassic Park’s graduating class: Terminator 2, the Batman movies, the Lethal Weapon movies, Prince of Thieves, True Lies, Speed, GoldenEye, all of the ‘90s action blockbusters. I saw all of Spielberg’s movies surrounding Jurassic Park, too, but because of some quirk of fate, I just missed out on the dinosaurs. Now, I love Jurassic Park. It’s a phenomenal film, and it totally holds up, both in story and visuals. I just don’t have the same sort of affinity for it that I do with other franchises that I grew up with, like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Hell, the reason I waited so long to watch it even after being out on my own and able to watch whatever the hell I wanted was because I was ashamed that I had missed the boat to Isla Nublar, and I was worried that if I watched it and I didn’t like it, then I was screwed forever.
Weirdly, the movie still holds a heavy nostalgia factor for me, simply because it was so pervasive in the culture around me. I played with Jurassic Park action figures at my friends’ houses and I ate the Jurassic Park Extra Value Meal at McDonald’s. I suppose it makes for an interesting cultural study on how influential movies are on the world around us, although I have neither the academic background or the motivation to explain this phenomenon in any sort of meaningful, sociological way. I imagine some kid will be sitting in his dorm twenty years from now, agonizing over the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy passed him by, hoping that his friends never find out. Kid, if you’re reading this, I get it. I really get it..
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