My Bestie, Emma, posted these pics of us on Facebook today:
Many things went through my brain when it popped up in my notifications. Firstly, ‘OH HOLY COW I CAN’T BELIEVE THESE ARE PUBLIC!’ Then, ‘Are we actually pretending to be on our phones in that one?’ Then, ‘Why did I always have those two stupid bits of hair hanging in front of my face? Did I really think it looked good?’ After few moments of relentless self-mocking a thought crept in.
These photo booths were kind of like my first selfies. I mean, yes, on the odd occasion before that I’d probably pointed a disposable camera at my own face and tried to take a photo, but the fact that you had to wait until you’d actually finished the film then taken it into the developers before you could see how it turned out meant it wasn’t really anything like the selfies we know and love today. That and the fact that normally the flash didn’t go off or you had your fingers over the lens… Anyway, the point is, going to the local post office to take millions of teeny tiny photo booth pictures of ourselves was kind of like the selfie taking of our time. Except we didn’t have a Facebook wall to share them on so we had to stick them up on, um, you know, an actual wall.
A kind of nostalgia washed over me then. As sad as it sounds now we loved this little pastime and would spend hours doing our hair and make-up in preparation, planning the ‘theme’ of that days pictures way further in advance than was required. It took up a decent chunk of our time compared to the instant and frequent nature of the pics the younger generation take today, but you know what? I still have those photos, and I could probably tell you all about the day we had when we took them. The ones of us with the phones was taken on the first day I saw Emma after Christmas, for example. We’d both been given new phones as presents so it was vitally important that we documented the occasion, obvs. And the ones with our friend Hannah were from a sunny day one Summer where we decided to put on our favourite dresses for no real reason and head to Shirley Park for the day, pretending not to look at boys. These days kids take so many identical selfies of themselves that the occasions they relate to must surely blur into one. So, despite their cringiness I’m glad I was born just before technology over took our lives. Then it dawned on me, that there are many things my children might never really understand. Like:
As well as spending far too much time preparing for photobooth pictures, Emma and I liked to communicate with each other via the medium of post. This amused our parents greatly, because we lived all of 3.2 miles away from each other. Still, we didn’t let that put us off, and regularly wrote each other epic 32 page letters addressing all the important questions, like, ‘Who is better, Backstreet Boys or Boyzone?’ (Errr, Backstreet Boys, obvs) and ‘Why is Michael Owen’s head such a strange shape?’ 32 pages might seem like a lot when you see each other every weekend, but most of it was taken up with pages of quotes from films to be honest, or the lyrics to a song written out of Smash Hits. Ordinary ink was not an option either, oh no. I had quite the impressive gel pen collection back then, let me tell you. Rainbow ones, glitter ones, scented ones (yes, scented ones!), glow in the dark ones…. every paragraph would be written in a new colour, and they came in handy for all the AMAZING pictures we would draw each other of our imaginary movie posters. It makes me sad that my children will probably never know the joy of a letter landing on the doormat. Do 14 years olds even know what letters are, I wonder? Or gel pens, for that matter?
Socialising in Miss Selfridge
We didn’t have Snapchat as teens, so we had to spend time together IN PERSON, and our hang out of choice was Miss Selfridge. Now, to the kids of today, Miss Selfridge is just a shop that sells not quite sexy enough, girly but grown up clothes. Back in the day, though, Miss Selfridge was more than just a clothes shop. It had a Beauty Bar, for a start, where we would spend hours testing out pretty much every single nail polish colour they had. OMG remember the first time you tried glitter nail polish? Life changer. In fairness, make-up was more complicated then. Forget contouring, you had to know how to do two tone eyeshadow, apply glitter dust without spilling it down your face (even though it ended up down your face anyway) and know just the right amount of tiny stars to stick to your cheek bones. And hair mascara was a thing. And hair glitter for that matter. In fact glitter everything. Hang on. I’ve gotten so distracted by glitter I’ve completely forgotten what my point was, so moving on….
Sorry, but the youth of today only have themselves to blame for this one. It makes me sound about a million years old, but we were a far more innocent bunch. The fact is, in our day (THERE, I SAID IT!!) bouncers basically let us in knowing full well we were underage, because we just didn’t cause any trouble. We couldn’t afford to drink alcohol anyway, but that didn’t matter, because we were just there for the music. That, and the buzz when you strolled through the doors without being asked for ID. Ah, the youth of today, with all their binge drinking and anti-social behaviour. They brought it on themselves. Now they’ll never understand the anticipation of the last few steps of the queue, practising your made up DOB (which made you 19, of course, because 18 would have been far too obvious) and wondering if you’d have looked older with your hair tied back. More fool you, young people. You missed out.
Being Uncontactable While Out
Ah, the thrill. You told your Mum and Dad you were round at Emma’s house, but really you were, GASP, just outside Emma’s house, hanging out by the cable box, just in case some boys went past. And your parents would never know, the fools, because we didn’t have mobiles for most of that time, and even once we did you couldn’t track us down with nifty location services like nowadays.
Having Stuff To Catch Up On When You’ve Been Away
As a teenager, being separated from your Bestie for, like, a whole, torturous week, was traumatic to say the least. So back in the days before data roaming you were literally off grid when you went away. But you looked forward to catching up on the gossip so much! And admit it, you felt a little bit like a movie star emerging after a mysterious week away, full of stories about how super awesome it was. These days everyone already knows, because you couldn’t hold your smugness in and started posting updates at the airport. Seriously, sometimes I think it’s a miracle anyone has anything to actually talk about at all anymore.
Yep, it was a simpler time, but it was a pretty awesome time (apart from dial up Internet. That SUCKED big time) and I kind of feel sad that my unborn children won’t get to experience the things I did. Still, at least I have the photos to look back on and show them.
God,I hope my kids do better things with their hair….