There was a day when you were a kid playing outside with your friends and you had no idea that it would be the last time.
Round two of the columns suggested by some of my readers…this is from my friend James. He suggested writing about what a day in the 90s was like. Writing about this comes at a great time because of what is happening with the Covid19 pandemic.
I reflect on how much fun I had as a child playing outside with my friends and all the things that embodied my childhood.
Unfortunately, my 2.5 year old isn’t going to daycare and getting the interaction with other gremlins. I will typically take him outside while I sit and work as he rides his bike and runs around in our carport. Being that he loves going to Target, grocery shopping, daycare and swim lessons, this has been a tough adjustment for him. I can’t wait for him to gain some sense of normalcy again.
Because of spending all this time with him and watching him play, it certainly makes me reflect and think about the amount of children who’s worlds have been flipped upside down and inside out. That must suck because it breaks routine. I certainly had one as a child. I reflect fondly on it.
What was a normal day like for me?
Depending on the day of the week and time of the year, it changed accordingly.
Growing up, I played baseball and I had games twice during the week days. We either played on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. Let’s say I didn’t have baseball though.
I would wake up at 7:00am Monday morning, usually not looking forward to school at St. Charles Borromeo.
I would sit in the bathroom with the heater blasting while getting dressed because I was usually freezing in the morning. I hated being cold so why not warm up? As disgusting as this sounds, I would sit my happy ass in the same place I took shits and eat my breakfast.
My dad would come in shortly after I got dressed and bring my breakfast. It was usually a microwaved Morton’s Honey Bun (bring those fucking things back!), Strawberry, Cherry or Watermelon (also bring them back) Pop Tarts or Cereal. I would wash it down with a Breakfast Essential Carnation Chocolate Shake. I ate real healthy obviously. Also, ice cream for breakfast was a win.
Perks of being the youngest child behind two girls and six years apart from the middle sibling, I lived that Ron Swanson life. I do what I want. I would eat breakfast and then my dad, mom or grandpa would drive me to school.
I would arrive to school, flirt with the line of being disruptive enough to give the teacher an added challenge versus getting in trouble and call it a day. The school day ended at 2:50 I believe. Either my mom, dad or grandpa would usually pick me up.
I would go home and sit at the kitchen table to do my homework, which usually took 20-30 minutes if that because I used to do it in class. I remember my sister, Ashley, used to have Full House on while she sat in the living room. Certainly wasn’t mad about watching that while doing homework.
Once I finished my homework, I would call up my buddy Garrett or Sean to see what they were up to. Sean would usually come to my house or I used to go to Garrett’s house. Typically by 3:45 at the latest, I was out the door and playing with my friends. That was also around the time my grandparents would come to my house where my grandpa sat in the recliner with a beer while my grandma was doing laundry and cooking us dinner. That woman lived in the laundry room and kitchen.
Sean lived down the street so I would usually meet him half way and we would go back to my place and either play basketball, football if we had others, baseball/kickball or wrestle on the trampoline. Wrestling was what we did more often than not. We would spend hours on the trampoline doing tag team ghost matches where he and I would pretend to be the Hardy Boyz (I was always Jeff, Swanton Bomb swag) or the New Age Outlaws Road Dogg and Billy Gunn (my guy, loved the Fame-Asser). I mastered the art of the hot tag like no other.
We would also wrestle one another where we would imitate our favorite guys. I would usually pretend to be guys like Stone Cold, Triple H or Chris Benoit while he would choose the likes of Kane or The Rock. I sold plenty of Chokeslams, Rock Bottoms and People’s Elbows back in the day.
If I went to Garrett’s, he had two guys who lived across the street. So it was always 2v2 kickball, basketball or football. If they weren’t around it was 1v1 basketball or kickball. The alternative was hanging in his playroom / patio which had a small pool / ping-pong table.
There was also the incredibly immature, fun and stupid game called tilted. The premise of the game was to throw balls at one another. However, the goal was to hit each other in the balls and scream tilted. Why we played that, I will never know.
There is a meme that says when the streetlights come on, you get your ass home. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. At least for me it was.
I would get home and go shower. We would usually eat dinner around 6:00 pm. My grandma’s cooking was the best. My favorite was easily her beef stew. It was always a good day when we had that.
Since we are talking about Monday’s here, there are some days I would eat in my room depending on the time dinner was ready. Come 7:00 pm, my happy ass was in my room. I would turn on World Championship Wrestling (WCW) until I eventually switched over to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Before I got into wrestling, it was always Disney Channel for the 7:00 pm DCOM. Even after, I would sometimes flip back and forth during commercials. Speaking of Disney Channel, you remember these…
The Disney Channel concerts were always a special treat. Anyway, back on track.
When I watched WCW, my dad would usually come in the room eventually and watch most of it with me. Of course, we both loved Ric Flair and Goldberg. I had a Goldberg pennant on my wall that my dad bought me from an episode of Nitro. Another one he and I both enjoyed was Hacksaw Jim Duggan carrying around his damn 2×4. I would usually flip on a movie after WCW and my dad would stay in the room with me until I fell asleep.
Once I got a little older and began watching WWF, the routine was pretty much the same except I would call my best friend, Mike (just recently on episode 19 of the podcast, check it out to learn more about his new name Tangent Infinity, sick beats). He and I would sit on the phone with one another while we both watched Monday Night Raw.
After wrestling ended, we would usually stay on the phone for a little while longer and both pop in video games while talking to one another. This routine continued over many years taking us through the late 90s and early 2000s.
As dorkchoppy as this is, we once created the exact same wrestler on WWE Smackdown Shut Your Mouth and took him through season mode together. We picked a custom template the game had which was the this tall emo looking dude dressed in all black. We named him Blacky (how original).
We went through and made all of the same moves for our created wrestler before taking him into season mode. I don’t remember the finishers we selected, but I do remember using the standing dragon sleeper to put people away along with the shining wizard.
Wake up the next day and it was usually more or less the same thing.
During baseball season, Saturday morning was game days. Those were usually finished by 10:30-11.
Once again the same premise, what happens when baseball season wasn’t in play?
The same friend I referenced who I talked on the phone with nightly was spending the weekend at my house more often than not. Legitimately from the time we were 6 until we were 12, he and I spent every weekend together Friday – Sunday.
You see, his grandpa coached both my sisters in soccer. When he coached my sister Ashley, Mike and I were inseparable. We even were cool enough to garner the nicknames M&M Boys along with Bad and Worse.
To prove the bad and worse theory…not sure why the hell we ever did this. But instead of walking to the bathroom like normal human beings, we used to just piss in the corner of my room on the floor. RAFI BOMB! My idea and he followed. Hence bad and worse. My parents never found out until they ripped up the carpet.
Back to the normal routine…
On Saturday, we would get up around 9:30-10:00, despite staying up until 2:00 – 4:00 am playing video games, wrestling and watching movies.
Goosebumps used to air on Saturday morning so if we woke up in time, we would always watch that and eat whatever. Once 10:30 rolled around, I was on the phone calling people to see who could play. It was usually my buddy Nick who lived at the other end of the street. It was the perfect spot to hang all day. We would go down there with him and a few other people.
Our days were spent playing baseball across the street in his neighbor’s yard. It was a corner lot with the perfect set up for a baseball field, honestly. If you hit a dinger across the other side of the street, automatic home run. Fortunately, we never did much damage to any of the surrounding houses, except once. I accidentally broke one of the windows on the neighbor’s house. They were cool about it and they still let us play in their yard after the fact.
If it wasn’t baseball, it was either hide and seek or guns (modified version of hide and seek).
Nick had a dope collection of toy wooden guns. One person would count while the rest of us would hide. The person counting would find and shoot people. Each person shot would jump on the seekers. If you eliminated all the seekers before being found, you won. Good times.
Occasionally, we would play football. Nick didn’t want that smoke in football most of the time (Lol, had to call you out my brother). As per usual, there were days where fights and disagreements would happen. But you know the phrase…boys will be boys.
We would spend nearly all day outside. If it wasn’t at Nick’s, it was my house and other friends would come over. Same bullshit, different yard though. The only difference is we wrestled on the trampoline. We used to do singles, tag teams, triple threats and fatal 4 ways if we had enough. Having a referee was always fun too. Of course we “take out” the ref.
Seriously! Anyone reading this want to do that again one weekend once this shit is over? We can film it!
Once the daylight faded, we would go inside and watch movies (usually The Goonies, The Mask or Mighty Ducks), play video games (WWF No Mercy), wrestle in my room or play with toy wrestlers. Our life was wrestling, deal with it.
Life in the 90s and early 2000s was pretty fucking sweet.
That last day came and you never realized it. That hits hard every time I think about it. My childhood was awesome and I wish I had a time machine to go back and watch that last sleepover and that last time going down the street to play. I don’t remember it. But, I wish I did.