Rob Sheffield is probably a genius. That’s no reflection on him that he’s only probably one, it’s just that I’m not qualified to say who is and who isn’t. What I can say, with certainty, is the reason why I think he’s probably a genius.
I loved his latest book, “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran”, because Rob manages to conjure the exact way it felt to be a teenager in the 80s. Some might think that would only take a mention of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and a Rubik’s Cube, but that’s not it at all. Rob was a guy growing up on the east coast and I was a girl growing up in the Midwest, and yet he perfectly captures the essence of adolescent experiences during the age of day-glo and rubber bracelets.
When he talks about wishing he could have been the one male member of the Go Go’s, I totally related. Of course, there could be a male member of the Go Go’s and of course, Jane Wiedlin would fall in love with him. I used to wish that I would be called up on stage to replace a suddenly ill Belinda Carlisle so that I could be the lead singer. A boy once told me at a Suburbs show (Mpls band, for those of you who don’t know) that I looked like Belinda Carlisle. I was sure that meant he was in love with me. I’ve since wondered if that was 80s boy code for “you’re a tad pudgy”.
I annoyed everyone in the house when I read Sheffield’s description of Journey’s “Separate Ways” video—I was laughing too hard to even explain it. The chapter about being the ice cream man is wonderful and I couldn’t help but be touched by the chapter about The Replacements. There are also some tender moments—enough to make you cry, especially the parts about his grandfather.
Highly recommended—won’t make you cringe over all of the stupid things we did or the clothes we wore. Quite to the contrary, it will make you realize that you were lucky if you grew up in the 80s.