Anyway, before I go I want to tell you a bit about my vacation because this is something I'm really excited about. I'm heading someplace I haven't been in thirty years, somewhere my money will go much further but there'll be a whole lot less TV and no Internet for the masses. I've been there before but since I was really young last time around I didn't pay much attention—this time I plan to take notice of everything! Vacation destination photo hint below:
My travel agent has finalized all the arrangements and quite soon now I'll be on my way to (drumroll)...1981! For those of you who have never been there or, like me, haven't been there lately, here are some fast facts about 1981:
• the global population was roughly 4.5 billion
• the median household income in the United States was $19,074
• the cost of a new home in the United States was $83,000
• a gallon of milk went for $2.22 in the U.S.
• it was the year MTV debuted
• aspartame was approved by the FDA
• The Yukon Gold potato was introduced
• Lean Cuisine frozen dinners first appeared in American supermarkets
• IBM introduced its Personal Computer (PC)
• Pope John Paul II was wounded by a gunman
• the U.S. hostages in Iran were freed
• an assasination attempt was made on President Ronald Regan
And to give you a further cultural snapshot here are some number one singles from the U.K. and U.S. in 1981
Prince Charming, Adam and the Ants
Under Pressure, David Bowie and Queen
Jealous Guy, Roxy Music (*caution, I think it may be impossible to watch any live Bryan Ferry performances from this period without swooning)
Don't You Want Me, Human League
The Tide is High, Blondie
There are many things I plan to do while in 1981. A few musical highlights of the trip will be watching Adam and the Ants play Tokyo (the videos up on YouTube look fantastic—it's time for me to see the real thing!), Billy Bragg (Mr. Love and Justice himself) gigging with his band Riff Raff before they break up later in the year and catching Simon and Garfunkel's free concert in Central Park along with half a million other people. Of course, I'll also have to make it into the MTV studio to watch the station's debut as they play their very first video, Video Killed the Radio Star.
You can't go back to 1981 without watching the Royal Wedding so I'll be stopping into St. Paul's Cathedral to see Princess Diane and Prince Charles tie the knot. I also plan to witness the first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and watch (live) Scott Hamilton win the U.S. male figure skating championship and then take gold in the World Championship. Go, Scotty!
I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark at the movie theatre during my first time in 1981 but couldn't snack on popcorn back then because of my braces. Sob! This trip will see me rectifying that wrong by stuffing my face with buttery popcorn while watching Harrison Ford proclaim his fear of snakes and battle nazis on the big screen.
As for the small screen, since I wasn't normally allowed to stay up after Love Boat to watch Fantasy Island on Saturday nights I will be good and sure to stay awake well past ten o'clock and watch both ABC shows back to back (also while stuffing my face with popcorn!) while in 1981 this time.
As a Canadian, one of the wonderful things about being in 1981 will be knowing that the country has decent political leadership back there (Pierre Trudeau). It's going to be hell coming back to an epically small-minded, cold-hearted, ethically-challenged Tory majority government, I tell you! But let's not put a dent in my holiday enthusiasm by dwelling on the negatives.
One thing I will absolutely make time for is dropping in to visit my Aunt's Airedale Terrier who was the BEST DOG EVER. I wonder if he'll recognize 2011 me as the same kid he knows in 1981? It wouldn't surprise me.
Of course, there are some people I'd love to catch up with who have since passed on but are alive and well in 1981—my grandparents and several of my uncles—and other folks I've lost track of over the years but as you know, that would be breaking the rules of time travel so I'll have to be content to watch them from a safe distance.
I hope you also have a wonderful summer vacation, whether you're spending it at home, some other place or some other time. See you back in 2011 later in the summer!