Wanna read my diary?
Shown above is my diary — sorry, JOURNAL — from the summer of 1992, when I was between the 7th and 8th grades. I was bored, weird and lonely, but also “purely me” in a way that seems almost alien now.
I didn’t have a lot going on, and boy, it shows in these pages. My narrative strategy wasn’t so much to make mountains out of molehills, but rather molehills out of minutiae. There are entire entries dedicated to nothing more than what I ate for dinner.
Below are six humdrum highlights from my 1992 summer diary.
(I’ll be cropping the pages to exclude anything too personal or revealing, because even after 25 years, so much of this shit is downright embarrassing.)
June 28th, 1992
School had ended just two days prior, so this was my first “big excursion” of the summer: A trip to the Woodbridge Mall over in Jersey, whee!
Looks like I spent a while in the Nature Company store, which doesn’t surprise me. I loved that chain. By 1992, I’d definitely begun to feel social pressure to keep out of toy stores, but nobody ever said anything about the Nature Company!
There I’d buy quartz crystals and petrified things, or more commonly a “rock pencil,” which was a regular pencil, but with half of the wood replaced by a tube of tiny polished rocks. (I bought one of those literally every time I went to the mall.)
I also purchased a jar of strawberry sundae lip balm from the Body Shop. I cannot overstate how big of a deal Body Shop’s lip balm used to be. My whole school was FULL of those little jars. Even the boys had them.
To me, the lip balm wasn’t really lip balm. It was exotic candy. The sticky goo was insanely delicious, tasting like the Vaseline version of gourmet ice cream. I’d eat it no slower, too.
July 1st, 1992
Oh, and speaking of gourmet ice cream! Do-Me-A-Flavor was our neighborhood’s only ice cream parlor, but it doubled as my go-to place for everything from trading cards to wrestling magazines to Corvette posters.
During the summer, they also dabbled in fireworks. Fireworks were and still are illegal here, so all they had was the “light” stuff, like smoke bombs and bang snaps.
I was a huge fan of smoke bombs. I’d buy a pack and sit in the backyard, all alone, lighting them off one by one while secretly enjoying the sulphuric smell even more than the smoke. It was like gasoline mixed with Play-Doh.
As for the pizza referenced here, I only would’ve mentioned that if it was a pizza I ordered for myself, by myself. I’d wait to pounce on the delivery guy like Mikey in the TMNT movie, primed to smuggle my secret pizza downstairs, where I wouldn’t have to share it.
(Looking back, I can’t help but think that I was inspired by Kevin McCallister.)
July 2nd, 1992
My mom dragged me to Caldor (God I miss Caldor) so I could get summer clothes for our weeklong trip to Long Beach Island, which was coming up just a few days later.
The Hypercolor shirt was my main find. I wore the hell out of that thing. Hypercolor shirts changed colors to the touch, which was an awesome gimmick until one of the jerkier kids full-forcedly slapped your back, and then blamed it on the shirt. (Only during summer vacation could I avoid that risk.)
As I recall, that Batman shirt was a real gem. It was light grey with a black Batman logo, and then tons of splattered black dots that conspired to make me look like a big fat sheet of candy buttons. But hey, it was still Batman.
I also picked up a Syracuse Orangemen t-shirt, simply because I liked the way the mascot — a giant, anthropomorphized orange — looked. I never watched them play, and in fact still couldn’t tell you what sport they played.
August 3rd, 1992
Television was on the agenda, including my near-daily ritual of recording Swans Crossing, famous for featuring the early work of Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Course, when I say “famous,” I mean “there are still only five people who have ever heard of Swans Crossing, including me.”)
If you’ve never seen the show, it was like 90210 mixed with Dynasty mixed with Saved by the Bell, and also somehow Milton Bradley’s Mouse Trap. I f’n loved it, and still think that its theme song was the best thing ever.
(I still have my tape full of Swans Crossing episodes, by the way. Sadly, I was so serious about the show that I always cut out the commercials. Stupid Matt.)
As for Stephen King’s It — meaning the TV miniseries based on the novel — that one actually premiered in 1990, but was rebroadcast in the summer of ‘92.
I can just picture myself compensating for the movie’s spookiness by turning every possible light on. Stop messing with Jack Tripper and Judge Harry, you horrible clown.
August 4th, 1992
Well, now I know why my bedroom was so uncharacteristically clean in that home movie from 1992. I was just in it for the fridge, baby!
In its former life, that mini fridge was in my older brother’s dorm. When he no longer needed it, I decided that I did. My mother wasn’t keen on wasting electricity so frivolously, but agreed to let me use it so long as I cleaned my bedroom first.
It was totally worth the effort. All summer long, I’d ride my bike to the corner store to restock Boku juice boxes and Little Debbie snack cakes, just so I’d have something to put in that fridge.
(And then I’d devour everything within an hour. In my defense, Nutty Bars were basically drugs.)
August 11th, 1992
Note the curious mention of a “peoplephobia attack.” I remember that day!
Lionel Kiddie City was an awesome toy store that blended the best attributes from more famous chains. It was as large as a Toys “R” Us, but Kiddie City stocked as many older toys as the most unkempt Kay-Bee. I lived for that place.
On August 11th, I ran into some kids from school while there with my mother. They weren’t friends, but we’d previously shared a few classes. The boys were unchaperoned and carrying baseball gear, and there I was, with my mother, shoving a cartful of marked-down Star Trek: The Next Generation figures.
I’ll probably have social anxiety issues for as long as I live, but it’s nothing like it used to be. The idea of being caught in an “uncool moment” by kids who were already many measures cooler was a recipe for disaster, and I had a full-on panic attack right there in the store.
(…even if it just looked like an erratic tantrum at the time, with my mother not at all understanding why we had to zip out of Kiddie City as if the place was simultaneously haunted and on fire.)
Still today, running into people I kinda know but don’t really know is pretty close to my least favorite thing. It’s why I drive three cities away whenever I need new sneakers.
Fortunately, the day ended on a better note. We went to Palmer Video, which was a three-floor monstrosity of a video store. I didn’t make a note of what I rented, but ten bucks says it was Child’s Play 2.
(…which would’ve paired nicely with that — quote — “major thunderstorm!”)
Anyway, looking over what excited me back in ‘92, today’s kids should be extremely goddamned thankful for the internet.
Thanks for reading. (I might do a Part 2 for this one, depending on how sick I feel in the morning.)