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Television, fashion of the '80s reruns into limelight

You will not believe what we're doing tonight!" my roommate Jen said exuberantly as she entered the room. "You are going to be so excited," she continued, "This is the best thing that has happened all semester."

Perplexed, I inquired as to just what our plans were for the evening.

"We're watching a 'Silver Spoons' marathon on Nick at Nite!" she said and waited for me to display the requisite amount of giddiness.

"I loved that show. I haven't seen it in years!" I exclaimed.

By the time 8:30 p.m. rolled around Monday night, Jen and I were both in front of the television awaiting the beginning of the marathon.

As the theme song began, we found ourselves singing along to the best of our abilities. The first episode featured Mr. T as a guest star.

We had forgotten about the heavy chains and Mohawk unique to the macho character.

"I think that was the exclusive province of Mr. T," I said, commenting on his chains.

Over the course of the next four and a half hours, we were happily re-exposed to all sorts of '80s phenomena: Sweater vests, bright pants, blazers with the sleeves rolled up, side ponytails and computers that looked like antiques.

We were enthralled by the long list of "Silver Spoons" guest stars that included the likes of Mr. T, Jason Bateman, Elizabeth Berkeley, Matthew Perry, Menudo (before they could boast Ricky Martin as a member) and even gospel queen Whitney Houston. They all made appearances alongside blond-headed Ricky Schroder.

We watched as Ricky grew up in a matter of hours before our eyes. Each of these episodes prompted us to remember something new about our childhoods.

Although we were considerably younger than Ricky and his friends in the mid '80s, we still remembered how we wore acid-washed jeans with the cuffs rolled up and high-top sneakers. Sitting there watching the "Silver Spoons" reruns was the first time in my life I didn't walk away from hours of television feeling I had just monumentally wasted my time. Instead, I felt thoroughly satisfied.

But my brush with "classic" '80s television hasn't been my only recent experience with vestiges of that decade. Look around Grounds, and you see quite a few denim jackets.

Read a magazine or watch the news, and you're often confronted with the return of blue eyeliner, the mullet (whether this will actually catch on remains to be seen), mini-skirts and preppy chic. A resurgence of '80s fashion is going on all around us, and I have met the return of my childhood decade with a lot of enthusiasm.

While speaking with my friend Morgan about the '80s the other day, I wondered at the reason for the decade's newfound popularity. But does there have to be a reason?

I thought about the question for a moment, before deciding that the answer is yes.

There's a reason for everything, even the return of shoulder pads and Pat Benetar.

Many of my friends and I are so enamored with this return to the penultimate decade of the century because we're a bit afraid of the future.

What better way to ease our fears about our upcoming independence and entry into the real world than to surround ourselves with reminders of a time when we felt safe, secure and carefree? I may not be able to go back to third grade, but I still can wear a denim jacket similar to the one I had then (minus the pins, of course) and continually be reminded that somewhere inside myself there's a measure of self-assurance.

The '80s are making an international comeback, and it can't be that everyone is worried about the real world and wants a reminder of better times, can it? Well, maybe it can.

But whatever the reasons for the resurgence, it seems to be receiving an open-armed welcome.

I might have to sit out certain aspects of the trend (like blue eyeliner and the mullet), but I love the "Silver Spoons" reruns. I just hope they re-issue Colorforms before it's all over.

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