I heard on NPR last week that, if you were a teenager in the ‘80s (as I was), then to positive descriptor word that you would have used would have been, ‘awesome’. I did and still do use this word, a lot. If you were a teen in the ‘90s, your happy word would have been ‘sweet’. Millennials (the teenagers of today) say, ‘bitchin’’ as their word of most coolness.
With every decade comes new (or sometimes recycled) words, interests and fashions. I’d always thought that my parents lucked out with me, as the fashion of my time in the ‘80s was preppy very similar to their preppy fashions of the '50s. At least it was the fashion of the '80s in my white, suburban, conservative childhood town…which, come to think of it was the same town that they grew up in too, so maybe it is not that the same, preppy fashion sense came back around into style, maybe it just never left. I’ll have to think more about that and get back to you in a bit.
Anyway, my niece and nephew came to visit us from the D.C. this past week. They are full-blown teenagers, with their own sense of music and fashion playing an integral role in their lives, as I was to come to appreciate.
My niece, Reva is 12. She and my two oldest daughters, who are a few years younger than she, were thick as thieves; palling around, sleeping in a tent set up in the family room every night, doing make-overs, baking cookies-- they had a blast (note: ‘80s term).
My nephew, Gabe is a very cool 15 year old. So sweet with his younger cousins and easy-going, but absolutely consumed with fashion, music and shopping.
Shopping in European department stores and boutiques was why he came to Switzerland. He’s already got wardrobe of a rock star- droopy jeans and boxer shorts held just above his hip bones by a Gucci belt, non-athletic, athletic shoes, layers of shirts and a slick jacket. He’s even got the oversized, plastic, black, aviator sun glasses that I have seen celebutants like Mary-Ashley-Kate Olsen (or whatever her name is) and Paris Hilton (barf) wearing in ‘Hello’ and ‘People’ magazines.
This dude is a well executed, casually presented, fashioisto.
It was just those sunglasses that threw me. They were reminiscent of the ones that the male star of every cop show in the ‘70s wore (with their large-collared, shiny synthetic shirt, butt-hugging trousers and ubiquitous perm).
When we piled in the car to go downtown to shop, Gabe, sitting next to me in the front seat, slipped them on. “Nice shades,” I said. He just slowly nodded, like he was listening to a new, very funky song.
On Gabe’s request we shopped... A lot. Downtown twice and two little villages that are known for their unique boutiques. But here’s the thing, Reva and my two girls would rush off in a small swarm of energy ALWAYS returning with goodies in hand; earrings and accessories from Claire‘s, skirts from H&M, sweaters from Pimkie’s, sweets from random candy shops. Gabe, on the other hand, bought just one shirt in all of our shopping sprees. I was perplexed.
On their final day of their visit, we drove over to France to the small city of Mulhouse, that has a good pedestrian shopping area. “Now,” I thought, “Gabe is going to fill the car with his fashion finds.” I set off with the girls, while Gabe wanted to shop on his own. After several hours we met up in front of the city’s cathedral to have lunch and then make the drive back home.
Across the cobbled courtyard I saw Gabe walking towards us. In his hand he had one, small bag. Once he reached us, I couldn’t contain my curiosity, I blurted out, “Whad’you get?” “These,” he said. He took off his giant, black, plastic aviator sunglasses, opened the bag and slipped on an identical pair of oversized, black, plastic aviator sunglasses. He stared at me (he is a young man of few words). I looked at him for a moment, then said, “Dude, those are…awesome.”. “Yep,“ he said as he nodded very slowly, “Bitchin‘”.