Me: (gasp again, clutching my non-existent pearls)
Me: I thought kids your age didn’t watch TV anymore.
Hank: Anyway. I was watching TV, The Simpsons, and then this show came on called The Goldbergs and it was about what it was like growing up between 1980 and 1990.
Pai: Where? I assume America.
Me: Oh so, my life, basically.
Hank: And the show was about how it was just like really important that like everyone have a telephone. Not a cellphone because those didn’t exist yet, but like a telephone with a cord in their room.
Pai: Hank, there were three unnecessary “likes” in that one statemet.
Me: We had one phone growing up and it was in the kitchen conveniently attached to A WALL.
Hank: (wide eyed in disbelief) Was that a thing with you do you remember?
Me: My main concerns growing up were getting a dog, a VCR and cable. Only one of which happened before moving out on my own.
Me: The VCR. A total game changer, but we only rented movies from the library, no Blockbuster card for my parents.
Pai: (snickering) Blockbuster (sigh).
Me: Music was more the competitive thing I remember. Your favorite band, knowing all the lyrics to every song, etc, that was what I remember most. Music was a part of your identity. Your friend group was often based on your musical tastes. I remember spending hours waiting for a certain song to be played on the radio and even more radical was when you would actually call into the radio station and request they play your favorite song and then you would sit riveted in front of the speakers not moving for fear they would actually play it and you would miss it. If you were very lucky the DJ would record your request and actually play the recording before playing the song and then you would scream because you were on the radio, hyperventilate, and pass out before the song would even come on. (sigh) Kids at school would have heard it because they were home doing the same thing and the next day either judge you for requesting the song or congratulate you for being on the radio.
Pai: And then there were mixed tapes.
Hank: What were mixed tapes?
Me: You would choose songs that best represented your soul or romanitc intentions and compile them into a mix
Pai: What you would call a playlist.
Me: Exactly and then you would record those songs on a cassette tape and give them to your friends and if you were brave to someone you had a crush on BUT what you have to remember is there was no internet, no downloading so you had to go out and buy all the music that made up your mixed tape or record the songs off the radio. I spent all my paper route and baby sitting money at the record shop, buying albums, cassette singles, sheet music to learn how to actually PLAY the song because my family was musical and blank tapes.
Pai: Your mother made a lot of mixed tapes.
Me: Guilty. I am a passionate person. I used to stay up real late, light a single candle and play records all night long and really feeeeeeeeel the music while staring into the solitary candlelight. Nowadays, hipsters call this meditating.
Me: Music was such a big thing your Uncle Jesse saved up all his money and bought a Boombox.
Pai: Oh, that was a big deal.
Me: This thing was as big as your sister, but not as heavy, and it ran on batteries which meant you no longer had to sit in the house with your music you could – wait for it- take your music with you… outside. Uncle Jesse used to throw this up on his shoulder and march around Sunset Boulevard with our neighbor and his best friend, Dennis Hicks, listening to Thriller, Run-D.M.C. and The Fat Boys, those were his cassettes I remember, and this machine ran on eight DD batteries. (gesturing the size of a single DD battery) Uncle Jesse bought eight rechargeable batteries from Radio Shack that probably cost just as much as the Boombox and I think they only had about two hours of playtime before they had to plug into a wall. Man, good times.
Hank: So where did you go?
Me: Oh, I wasn’t invited to parade around the neighborhood with my brother and his friends unless Dennis Hick’s cousin BB was visiting. My brother wanted nothing to do with his baby sister. Made that very clear when he declared he wouldn’t walk me to my first day of kindergarten and left me in the middle of the road not knowing where to go.
Hank: I still can’t believe he did that.
Me: Not every brother and sister get along. You and Molly are a rare and wonderful exception. We made up for it of course when I was a freshman and he was a senior in high school. Then we became friends, but not before.
Me: Totally! Oh, I didn’t see it before. You two are just like Charlie and Lola! Loving that cartoon really paid off.
Hank: That is such a nice compliment, thank you. I love my sister. I know she frustrates me so much, but every morning when we wake up I am so happy to see her I don’t remember why she was frustrating.
Me: You have summed up the parenting paradox in a single sentence.
Me: Remember that when you’re a teenager and she is your age now.
Hank: I imagine I will be focused more on my studies, but I will always have time to play video games or pick her up from school! OH! I want pick her up from school and take her to a café and then we could talk over cakes like I do with mom, just her and me.
Pai: Your sister is very lucky.
Me: All I got from my brother when I was in elementary school was a pitchfork to the skull.
Me: That made it sound really dire doesn’t it?
Pai: Completely sinister.
Me: Not my intention. It was a total accident. My brother was extremely apologetic. I was fine. We were having a hay fight while bailing to my grandpa’s horses and my brother misjudged where my head was. To be fair my hair was the color of straw. My cranium was camouflaged, well it was until I started bleeding.
Pai: Okay, let’s go back to music, shall we? What were these Fat Boys?
Hank: Well, I am almost out of corn flakes and Nesquik…
Me: Two things you cannot live without.
Hank: Right, and I am going to need probably a formal shirt for the Baile de Finalistas (The Graduation Ball) so maybe we can look in at the stores for a nice white shirt. I have a tie from Grammy Kate.
Me: Oh really?
Hank: My teacher said maybe wear a blazer? What is a blazer?
Me: It is a light formal jacket. Like your papa wears in the spring and fall.
Hank: Oh. I have one of those, but I think it will be too hot.
Me: Not if the Baile (Ball) is air-conditioned.
Hank: I doubt it. This isn’t America. There is never real air-conditioning unless it is a hospital or a shopping center.
Me: Truth. You could bring your blazer along just in case.
Hank: I have been thinking about my outfit and so I am considering my nice new blue shorts, nice socks, polishing my shoes and more hair products. My teacher suggested we all wear white and I looked in my closet and I don’t have a white shirt that isn’t a t-shirt.
Me: (making myself a coffee) That sounds completely reasonable. We will go shopping for cornflakes, Nesquik and a white button up after school.
Hank: That makes me feel calm. Thank you, mama.
Me: If I recall correctly, your tie from grammy is teal.
Hank: What is teal?
Me: A blue green with a dash of yellow. Teal and navy blue are not the best of friends. How would you feel about getting a new tie for the Baile (Ball)?
Hank: Do we have any weddings on the books this summer?
Me: Not as of yet.
Hank: Than I don’t think we should spend the money. Can I have a carioca (a weak espresso made by running another cup of water over already brewed grounds)?
Me: I don’t know, can you?
Hank: May I?
Me: You may. With or without um pingado de leite (a drip of milk)?
Hank: With, please.
Me: How about this. I am willing to get you a new tie for the Baile (Ball) and then it would be my pleasure to take you on a fancy date this summer where we dress up. Maybe to a concert or out to dinner? What say you? (handing him his coffee)
Hank: I like that idea.
Me: Great. We will go to a local shop for the shirt and tie. I’d rather give my money to a person rather than a corporation and then we will go to the shopping center for cornflakes and Nesquik (sipping my coffee) because I am unaware of a local company that makes those items.