Ways My Life Was Like The Kids’ Lives in “Stranger Things”

My husband and I just wrapped up watching season 3 of Stranger Things last night on Netflix. It’s definitely a thought-provoking experience – especially since I believe I was the EXACT same age as the “main” group of kiddos in the series (Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin, Max, El). In the series, Back to the Future was just released in theaters – I would have been 13 when that movie came out, in this  picture below I was 12 going on 13 (close enough – I really don’t have too many digital pics of me at that awkward, awkward age):

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Jeez Louise we had a lot of cats! The orange one’s name was “Sparky,” he was named for the Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson. The whitish cat to my right is Alice, named for the Brady Bunch housekeeper. The decor/carpeting definitely looks like it could be part of a Stranger Things set! Except the cats would all be evil and wind up taking over the town, LOL…

My life as a 13-year-old was similar to the lives of these kids in some significant ways – I grew up in a small town in a Midwestern U.S. state, I used to love goofing off in malls, I was getting my braces tightened every month (sometimes it would hurt so badly I would cry), I had a slightly adversarial relationship with my older brother (we loved each other but we loved bickering with each other even more) and I was NOT one of the “popular” kids.

As for school, I struggled with math – and both home ec AND woodshop! I had to stay after school quite a few times just to finish a simple pillow (which I would use later on while sunbathing in the backyard). I was so distraught over having a failing home ec grade at the “midterm” that I (ahem) – FORGED my mother’s name on the progress report! My mother – the domestic “goddess” that she was – skilled in all things home economics – could not KNOW her daughter was failing home ec! Good thing I didn’t get caught. One of my teachers PADDLED a student for having forged her parents’ name on a progress report. My mom knows all about this, and we have a good laugh about it now…

Maybe I did do a “bit” better in woodshop – I still use that bottle opener now! I think maybe I got a B-minus on it?

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What could be more dangerous than sugared up tweens with braces and wildly imbalanced hormones? Add power tools to the mix!

I was kind of a dork, and flew my dork flag especially high as a band student. My band teacher Mrs. S. was FURIOUS about me goofing off in band class – she took me out into the hallway and said that there were kids who would give their “eye teeth” to be in the symphonic band. Uh….I didn’t know what “eye teeth” were! Teeth with eyes? Eyes with teeth? Both sound kind of scary (maybe they should appear in an episode of Stranger Things)!

I went out to see movies quite a bit – there really wasn’t much to do BESIDES going out to see movies when you lived in “the sticks!” The “googaplexes” were just starting to become a thing, so you could see one of several different movies under one roof!

I was in a junior high bowling league..one day a week I’d go to the bowling alley with my friends after school. This was back in the “dark ages” when adults could pretty much smoke inside EVERYWHERE – whether kids were around or not – so even though nobody was smoking during junior high girls’ bowling league, you could still smell the lingering, stale stench from last night’s “league” night. Before we set foot in the bowling alley, we’d stuff our faces with candy at an ice cream/bulk candy store called The Rainbow Factory. Cherry Coke was my favorite sugary thing to wash down all of those gummy bears and “tart ‘n tiny” Sweet Tarts (I was actually quite good at tossing them up in the air and catching them in my mouth)! A couple of years later, Cherry Coke would become a jilted lover when Cherry 7-UP made its debut…it was PINK! I LOVED that stuff…but back to 1985! Did you know actor Matt LeBlanc was in those old Cherry 7-Up commercials?

My favorite music at the time was Tears For Fears, Wham!, Madonna and Sting (as a solo artist)…As a testimonial to my love of Madonna, I bought a cassette version of her album Like a Virgin album to play on my “boombox” – with a gift certificate I’d won as a prize for winning the seventh grade spelling bee. And this was the cassette I picked out in Tape World:

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Her top hits from this album included Like a Virgin, Material Girl, Dress You Up, and Angel (the “girls” Max and El on Stranger Things can be seen listening to Angel). While this album was good, I think her True Blue album released a bit later is pretty much close to perfection (production wise). Even if True Blue was essentially a “love letter” to Sean Penn!

TV shows I enjoyed watching included Moonlighting, Dynasty, Family Ties, Night Court, Mr. Belvedere, Murder She Wrote, Newhart… Please note this was BEFORE we got this wonderful thing called “Cable TV” and then MTV became my raison d’etre. Aside from Moonlighting and Mr. Belvedere, I don’t think I’d be interested in watching any of these shows now – though the A-Team has some funny nostalgia value! When I stayed up late enough, I’d try to catch some Saturday Night Live

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My favorite 1985 movie – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

What about movies? Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was my absolute FAVORITE movie of 1985, but I also loved Back to the Future, Better Off Dead, A View To a Kill,  Spies Like Us, Police Academy 2: The First Assignment, Fletch, Fright Night and National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I didn’t really care for The Goonies then – and when I tried watching it recently, it made me cringe…I couldn’t get through the first 10 minutes!

Now all I have to do is add some monsters to some of my “tween” stories and bam – I’ll have my very own Stranger Things script!

11 thoughts on “Ways My Life Was Like The Kids’ Lives in “Stranger Things”

    1. Didn’t know that but makes sense. Did you know he also laid down keyboard riffs for stevie nicks in stand back? Also she claims little red corvette kind of inspired that song. Will have to find article and share later. One wonders if these cameo appearances were “free” lol wink wink …

      1. She had quite a big solo career in the states in the 80s. Edge of seventeen is worth a listen. I would guess without googling that stand back and gypsy were her highest charting billboard hits. Plus lots of speculation that she was a witch because of her tendency to wear all black while performing. Also i think i read she virtually destroyed her nose from cocaine.

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