A few days ago, I received an invitation to a friend’s birthday party. At first, I was happy to have been invited to join in the celebration of a milestone birthday… the big 3-0. Although I achieved that milestone long ago, I was very much looking forward to the event.
On closer inspection, however, I noticed the invitation contained the one word that sends me running for the hills every time I see it. My friend had decided to have a theme party for her birthday.
Over the years theme parties have become very popular. Don’t let this fool you. A theme party is nothing more than a costume party for drunken grownups.
I hate costume parties. I simply don’t do fake dress up. I like who I am. I don’t feel the need to dress up and pretend to be someone else for a night. And to answer the question in your head, no, I don’t do Halloween either.
To make matters even worse, my friend had chosen ‘The 70’s’ as the theme of her ‘vintage’ party. Those attending would be required to dress up like their favorite character from the 70s.
I was terrified by the prospect.
I was further horrified when I realized she had the nerve to use ‘vintage’ and ’70s’ in the same sentence.
Here is my definition of vintage: Old stuff people have kept in boxes for years because some day they may be worth something.
Vintage stuff is old stuff. I don’t even start thinking vintage until I go way back to the 1950s. In the 70s I was a cool high school kid who went to concerts and dreamed of being in a rock band.
So how was it possible that someone would even think of calling the 70s vintage? Then I realized that many of those who would be attending this party were well, sperm and eggs in the 70s.
When I think the 70s, three words come to mind… ‘polyester’ and ‘big hair.’ Both of which brought me back to a time of teenage angst, clumsiness and bad fashion.
My trip down memory lane took me back to everything from making out at the movies during the premiere screening of Saturday Night Fever to the opening theme of Welcome Back Kotter. What do a disco movie and television show set in Brooklyn have in common? If you were around in the 70s, you know the answer to that one!
I awoke from my trip through the time tunnel to the sound of my partner shopping for vintage attire on E-bay. There was no turning back now since we’d already accepted the invitation.
Since I was a character of the 70s, I decided to go as myself in my teenage angst heyday.
So, credit card and E-bay account in hand, I went shopping.
I was shocked to learn that the box of old concert T-shirts I had thrown out 15 years ago was now valued at more than the net worth of all the citizens of Monaco combined.
For example, the Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy tour shirt I bought for $7.00 at a Madison Square Garden concert in 1977 now cost $73. A ‘Stop the Draft’ button which was given out for free at high school rallies, could now be had for $10. And if I was willing to part with $175, I could own a ‘You Gotta Believe’ button from the 1972 New York Mets run for the pennant.
I decided to call my mom and share with her this information. Now, my mom isn’t a pack rat by any means, but she has been known to hang on to a few things because ‘they may be valuable some day.’ So when she confessed she’d rescued my t-shirt box from the trash and invited me to come over to look through the box, I couldn’t get to my parent’s house fast enough.
Some day had finally arrived. When I got to my parent’s house and opened the box, it was like opening a Pandora’s box to every memory I had stored away safely… most good, some painful.
I spent the rest of that marvelous afternoon looking through old photo albums, reading entries former classmates had written in my high school yearbooks and listening to some of the cheesiest, yet memorable lyrics ever to come out of a turntable.
Who could ever forget: “That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh.”
Finally, as I got to the bottom of the box, I saw the familiar black cotton material and white letters… it was a little worn but still exactly how I remembered it… my Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy tour shirt from 1977. Best of all, it still fit perfectly.
That’s when I realized why people like theme parties so much. Because by pretending to be someone else, you can finally appreciate who you are.
My trip down memory lane had deposited me right back to the present… to the person I had become as a result of my past. And with the wisdom of hindsight, I could finally appreciate the joyful time from which teenage angst had blinded me.
With that bit of insight, I realized that the things over which I stress today will one day bring a smile of nostalgia to my lips.
The party was a huge success. And as I sang the words of Paradise By The Dashboard Light… “It was long ago and it was far away and it was so much better than it is today…” I agreed that in some ways it was… but in so many other ways the past is better left right where I left it.