This year, teenagers who were born in the same year that I graduated from high school are entering into high school themselves, as freshmen. These freshmen of the class of 2017 were born in 1999, likely while that song by Prince was playing over the loud speakers of the hospital, because we all knew the world was going to end in the year 2000. Anyway, having just barely wiggled their way into being alive in the 90s, they’re too young to remember all of the awesome things that those of us who lived through the 90s remember. Here’s a list of 5 things from the 90s that this year’s high school freshmen won’t understand — but will make the rest of us feel ridiculously old.
5. Michael Jordan
Hey, kids, did you know that Michael Jordan used to do something besides sell Hanes underwear and t-shirts? That’s right, Jordan used to play basketball for a magical team called the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were hot, man. They were unstoppable. Jordan was LeBron before LeBron was even a twinkle in the eye of a basketball recruiter. Oh, and because you weren’t alive yet, let me direct you to the 100% absolutely true this shit is for real documentary Space Jam, which chronicles how Michael Jordan used his basketball powers to help Bugs Bunny save the earth from an alien invasion in 1996. I cannot stress enough that this is a true story.
4. Warner Bros. Afternoon Cartoons
You kids and your Ben 10s and your Uncle Grandpas. Cartoons just aren’t what they used to be. Sure, there are a few gems out there like Adventure Time and Regular Show, but 99% of what you’re watching on television right now should be shot and left for dead in a dumpster behind an abandoned building. Cartoons of the 90s were so much better than the stuff you get today. The highlight of the 90s after-school experience was a group of shows produced by Warner Bros. — most of them produced by Stephen Spielberg, of all people! These cartoons included Looney Tunes Adventures, Animaniacs (Yakko‘s song about all 50 states and their capitals helped me to pass 8th grade Geography with a 100%), and its spin-off Pinky and The Brain; but the show that holds a special place in my heart is Freakazoid. Created by Bruce Timm (yes, that Bruce Timm), Freakazoid featured 16-year-old Dexter Douglas, who was zapped by a computer and turned into the manic, insane superhero Freakazoid. I still know all the words to the theme song by heart.
3. The Macarena
Kids, sometimes you will see your parents get drunk at a wedding or some other large gathering involving a DJ and they will dance this weird and ridiculous dance to an equally weird and ridiculous song. This song and the accompanying dance were all the rage in the mid 90s; every middle school dance in the United States played this Spanglish anthem. Forget twerking, ladies, this was where it was at in the 90s. I mean, if a Latino song can get white people to run to the dance floor in droves by mixing English and Spanish, then surely it’s worthy of going down in the annals of history next to other dance classics such as the Chicken Dance, YMCA, and the Cupid Shuffle.
You thought Crocs were the original abomination of footwear? Well, think again. Let me sit back in my rocking chair and tell you about jellies, or jelly shoes, which were shoes made out of PVC plastic. They were semi-transparent and often involved the use of glitter. There were tons of different varieties of jellies, different brands, different styles, and different colors. Having jellies from the mid 80s to the early-to-mid 90s meant you were a stylish and hip girl. Now, that’s hip as in someone who is cool or awesome, not hip as in the body part.
Tamagotchi first appeared in 1996, right around the same time that Pokemon made its debut. But, instead of enslaving free animals and forcing them to fight for you, Tamagotchi was all about the love and nurturing of your pet. Tamago is Japanese for “egg,” and that’s what your new friend would be when you first received him — an egg. The game fit into the palm of your hand and could easily be taken anywhere. When the egg hatched, out came the Tamagotchi, starting out as a little blob. The way it grew into an adult depended on how well you took care of it. Each Tamagotchi had three meters: hunger, happiness, and discipline. You could feed your pet a meal or a snack, play little games with it, and even scold the pet if you tried to feed or play with it and it refused. It would also poop right on the screen, and if you were some kind of gross weirdo who didn’t clean up the poop, the Tamagotchi would get sick. So, basically, it’s like the Sims but with an alien non-humanoid baby.