Dear Twentysomething Girl at Yoga:
I couldn’t help but overhear you before class wistfully telling your friend that you wished you could go back in time and live in the ’90s. Then I saw you snapping that #blessed selfie of your pedicured toes and your SmartWater, and, well, I’m not so sure the ’90s are for you.
First off, you would not be in this sleek, sexy studio if you lived in the ’90s. You’d be in a stinky, mirrored gym waiting for step aerobics while a man in weightlifting pants hit on you. You’d hate it, but harassment was still an accepted form of flirtation back then, so you’d turn away, gnash your teeth and count the seconds until class began.
Then again, maybe you wouldn’t. Because you do realize there was no Tinder in the ’90s, right? Here’s how you met men then: You went out and made awkward conversation with strangers. A number on a napkin at the end of the night was the equivalent of a right swipe. Most of the time, that didn’t happen. The ’90s were lonelier than you’d think.
Also, there was no Instagram, no Twitter, no Facebook. Hashtags were something you would expect to see in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. Vacation photos stayed in albums. Dinners stayed in kitchens. Random thoughts stayed in journals. Shoes, lipsticks, manicures—well, that’s why you went out with friends. When you made plans, you had to stick to them. See, people didn’t have cell phones and were otherwise unreachable, so canceling wasn’t an option.
We used landlines and phone books. We wrote letters that we sent through the mail, and when we got our first email addresses, we were so excited it didn’t matter that they were 300 characters long. Instant mail! That shit was magic. We also had dial-up Internet that always clogged up the landline, so even if we wanted the guy from the gym to call, we were out of luck. As you kids like to say, the struggle was so real we couldn’t even.
It’s a romanticized notion that everyone in that decade looked like Rachel from Friends. Here’s the truth about that haircut: It looked amazing in the salon. Then you did it at home, and it was Carol Brady on steroids. Which brings me to another point: In the ’90s, mullets were everywhere, on everyone. Your boss had one. Your boyfriend had one. Hell, even Princess Diana had one.
I’ll agree with you on one thing—you missed the boat on some great music. But for every Billy Corgan, there was a Billy Ray Cyrus. For every Radiohead, a Right Said Fred. All the Lauryn Hill in the world couldn’t negate the fact that everyone saw the sign, thought they were too sexy, and mmm-bopped. And yes, the Macarena truly was a thing.
I know your generation thinks ’90s fashion is one big Aztec print fanny pack. And that’s not entirely off base. But, would you wear it with a mock turtleneck, high-waisted Girbaud jeans and white sneakers? Because you would in the ’90s—shamelessly. And you’d reek of CK One and secondhand smoke. Yep, lots of people smoked back then. None of that calling-it-in vaping business—just straight-up smoke going straight into the lungs—more often than not, in a restaurant. I know, right?
Though the ’90s didn’t have Kim Kardashian, it had Robert Kardashian, which was one-thousand times worse. We cared way too much about OJ—enough that we were willing to sacrifice months of daytime TV to tune into the trial. We also were pointlessly invested in a certain navy blue dress, mad cow disease and Y2K.
All that said, your nostalgia comes from a good place. In spite of everything, the ’90s were awesome. But it wasn’t the 10-year-long Coachella that Urban Outfitters would like you to believe it was. You do you in your own time and place with your selfies and your SmartWater. One day, you will reflect on your generation and how it shaped you, and you will understand just how #blessed you really were.
But until that happens? Back off my generation, bitch.
The Eavesdropping Middle-Aged Lady at Yoga