Time Machine

For Christmas, my sister gave me a time machine that really works. When I opened my package from her, there it was; a DVD of the first season of “21 Jump Street”.

For those who may not be in the know, this was one of Fox Televisions first shows. It launched the careers of Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson, as well as many others. The story line was basic, young looking police officers became part of an undercover unit placed in local high schools. The cops were actual students, at least until the crime was solved and the bad seeds kicked out of school. The recurrent theme was big hair, torn acid-washed jeans, and long earrings (for both boys and girls).

When I started watching the DVD’s, my first thought was “good grief, how cheesy was this?” But, I kept it on as I folded laundry, and pretty soon, found myself drawn in. The memories came flooding through, and off I went; back in time.

The year was 1989, and I was floundering, undecided about my future. College had become too confining, and at this point, it didn’t have a purpose for me. I ended up working as a bartender and made several friends, also working in the bar and restaurant business, who were in the same boat that I was. We knew that our current career paths were temporary (we hoped) but none of us had any direction; we drifted together.

It happened that “Jump Street” came on Sunday night, when we were always off work. We would congregate at my apartment, or another friend’s double-wide trailer. One of us would cook if the others contributed the food and drink. We always ate the cheap meals that would feed the masses; spaghetti, hamburger helper, sloppy Joes, and so on. There were easily six to eight of us there every week.

When it was time for Jump Street, we all piled on the couch or floor. It started with the organ music, then the buzzing neon “21” and we were glued–total silence except for commercials for the next hour. I am not sure why this show held our interest. Certainly Johnny Depp had the chick thing going for him, but our guy friends enjoyed watching as much as the girls. Afterward, we would sit around and shoot the breeze for an hour or two after cleaning up, then gradually leave and go our separate ways. Week after week, we always connected at the same time, to do the same thing. This routine lasted amazingly long, particularly in the transitional world of bar and restaurant people. I can’t remember when it stopped really, but the feeling of camaraderie is still very strong when I think about that time. I can easily close my eyes and visualize heads on pillows or someone’s feet draped over the side of a chair.

It’s funny but when I look at current fashion, it feels very familiar. I have yet to see jacked up bangs, but jean waists are going back up, and skinny leg pants have been popular again for a good while. “Jumpstreet” had a revival as a movie, actually two; with more humor than crime fighting. I think I will stick to the DVD. I’m showing my age, but based on current trends, that doesn’t seem like it’s a bad thing.


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