Seeing as that the writers’ strike really shows no signs of ending any time soon, I recently decided to take a look at our long-abandoned Netflix queue. As I was surfing through the site, I stumbled across something WONDERFUL:
After. School. Specials. On. DVD.
Words cannot express my utter glee upon discovering this. My delight only grew upon discovering that the complete set comes in a LITTLE YELLOW SCHOOLBUS. OMG CAN YOU STAND THE CUTENESS?
As a child of the 80s, I grew up on this stuff. And we’ll get to its influence on my young life in just a moment, but first: For the uninitiated, after school specials were a mainstay of late 1970s-1980s TV. They revolved around big issues like teen pregnancy (Two Teens and a Baby), individuality (The Day my Kid Went Punk) and mental illness (The Girl with the Crazy Brother). As you can see by the titles, these matters were always handled with sensitivity and tact. I could go on about the melodrama and general awesomeness of the whole genre, but why do that when the following scene from Ace Hits the Big Time (i.e., after school special where boy moves to big city, stumbles onto gang-related turf war…of the DANCE!) can do that for me?
(In case you’re wondering, yes you DID in fact hear the lyrics “New blood on Falcon ground/You're gonna look like cooked spaghetti.”)
After nearly wetting my pants laughing, I spent some time scouring the web for additional after school special video clips, and without warning, a memory came rushing back:
The year was 1980…something. I must have been about 7 or so. There I sat, in my side ponytail and plastic charm necklace (I'm assuming), watching one of the specials; this one in particular was about teen alcoholism. I remember watching aghast as the wholesome teens went from sneaking sips of schnapps to drinking entire bottles of wine (uh…the horror?).
And then…I began to cry.
Not for the fate of the teens (who, by the way, were totally operating a motor vehicle by this point), but for MYSELF.
Because (oh God, am I really sharing this?) I was a big fan of grape juice as a kid, and somehow, watching this? My young mind equated it with wine. Still sniffling, I trudged down the stairs to deliver the terrible news to my mother, who was folding laundry at the time. Seeing my tearstained face, she immediately asked me what was wrong. “Mom, I’m an alcoholic!” I wept. “I really, really love drinking grape juuuiiice!”
Whereupon she burst out laughing, and explained to me in detail why I was not, in fact, a seven-year-old alcoholic.
As soon as I remembered this, I asked my mom about it, and she claimed not to remember this ever happening. (And promptly laughed again.) BUT I KNOW THE TRUTH.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to go rent Ace Hits the Big Time and check my family for signs of gang involvement. (Which, according to the movie, may involve purple sweatbands and dance fighting.)