If you are like me (and I suspect many of you are), television was your babysitter while you were growing up.
While my mom's parenting style would probably be frowned upon now, she kept me out of her way and out of trouble by letting me watch TV. It might even be more accurate to say she sometimes would beg me to watch TV.
"LOU-ISE! Would you PLEASE go watch TV and be quiet. PLEASE?"
And though my pediatrician tapped his temples and solemnly said to me in his old-man-voice, "TV is like DRUGS. It ROTS YOUR BRAINS," Mom thought he was wrong and just told me not to sit too close to the TV. I'm no worse for rot now.
This was back in the day when we actually had to watch commercials. Between episodes of Rescue 911, Mr. Belvedere, or The Muppet Show, America hawked its wares to the transfixed masses. They were a part of how we were entertained and tracked mainstream cultural trends.
Because commercials are repetitive, but only run for a finite amount of time, I can tell you almost exactly where I was in my life when a specific commercial was running. For me, watching certain commercials provides an intense, visceral nostalgia that feels SO GOOD. (Uh oh, was Dr. Schnall right???)
Here are a few that seriously tug at my heartstrings.
This commercial was on heavy rotation the summer I went to day camp, then fell into an 8-year-old woe-is-me melancholy shortly afterwards, because I MISSED THE PONY I RODE FOR A WEEK. Her name was Gypsy, she was tiny and cranky, and she kicked the other ponies if they got too close. She was my equine soulmate.
When I hear this jaunty tune all I can think of is Gypsy.
This was the Sophie B. Hawkins version of the Alpine White commercial. There was another one with a dude, an ice skater, implied man-woman romance – oh what the hell, here it is:
I've actually written about my love for all things Alpine White, in the early days of my xoJane ramblings. Yes, the candy bar was superb but, I'll fully admit that the Alpine White song was a favorite of mine. I clearly remembering belting it out in the shower.
During the Alpine White years, I spent a lot of time in the break room of the bank where my mom worked — you guessed it — watching TV. This song takes me back to the smell of burnt coffee, and that bank-smell of ballpoint pen ink and metal.
I've mentioned this in the Creepy Corner comments (and on the Creepy Corner Facebook page if you're interested!), but OH MY GOOD GOD I WANTED THESE BOOKS SO MUCH.
Mostly because the commercials scared the shit out of me. If I had just watched Unsolved Mysteries and this commercial came on, I'd close my eyes and mute the TV — I couldn't handle it. Still, I longed for those Time-Life books. (I ended up finding them at the library and contemplated stealing them.)
It was also around this time that my teacher told me that my report on the White House couldn't be about how it was haunted.
What commercials take you back? Get you all nostalgic? Make you long for a simpler time?
And does anybody remember a commercial for The Diaper Service from the mid 80s where the lyrics were something like, "Step up baby, you've got something to say! Step up baby, today is your day! The Diaper Service is coming your way!" It was so catchy.