Does anyone remember shopping in a “Happiness Is”? Back in the day when South Sacramento was less gang-ridden and Florin Mall was a decent alternative to driving out to Arden, there was a store named “Happiness Is” which basically was a Sanrio Store. For those of you who don’t know Sanrio (boys cough cough) its the store that sells all the Hello Kitty stuff and other odd Japanese cartoon character paraphernalia. I LOVED that store. Whether I was buying beanie babies or my 10th Hello Kitty wallet, it was the place to be. Anyways, I was thinking today about the things that make me happy these days, and how quickly those things change. Nowadays, you couldn’t get me to spend 12.50 on a plastic wallet with a cat’s face on it but when I was 11, that’s all I lived for. So in an homage to the past, here go some of my favorite collectible/happy things:
Need I say more? I have NO clue why or what you did with them. I remember having the normal Pogs, which were just cardboard round pieces with images on them. I remember the highly treasured ones had Power Rangers and cool sayings like “Radical!’ or “Totally Dude!” Then in every collection, you had to have a few Slammers, which were heavier and usually composed of part metal. I found my Pog collection when we moved out of our house last August and I tried to find an explanation for what the game entailed but let me tell you, I had a RAD collection. I remember in 1st grade, a kid named Nick Draper stole a roll of my Pogs and I told my parents while tears streamed down my face. The principal called his Mom and the next day I had a sloppily written apology note, my Pogs AND a new slammer sitting on my desk. Heck yea, take that NICK DRAPER.
2. Sky Dancers
Oh yea, these bad boys were for the ladies! My Dad traveled once in awhile when I was little, maybe once or twice a month which meant a new toy every time he came home. I was hooked on Sky Dancers. They were these plastic ballerinas with hard plastic wings that came with some contraption to make them fly. Basically you pulled a rip cord that spun these ballerinas so fast that they took off in the air and glided back down (in the process leaving pink marks from hitting the wall and poking you in the eye if you didn’t get away fast enough). As I googled an image to place in this blog, I find websites full of recalls, marking these toys as dangerous which I’ll tell you right now, they were! The new lightweight foam material they make flying objects out of these days is completely the opposite to the hard plastic these were made of. Anyways I had a collection and it felt bad ass to pull the ripcord.
3. Beanie Babies.
Beanie Babies were an ingenuous idea: make a cheap product, release them in spurts to make some “collectible” and SELL. These things were EVERYWHERE. Sanrio, Hallmark, Airports, it was incredible! We bought a new beanie baby every week for like a solid year and a half. As if it weren’t embarrassing enough, we had a curio right inside the front door that displayed our beanie babies proudly for our guests to see. Then as if THAT weren’t bad enough, the “collectible” ones (aka rare bears) were in hard plastic cases. So our beanie babies were in a case, within a case. And as we mulled through our beanie baby collection after we moved, I was reduced to google-ing the value of every beanie baby to only deduce that DUH, they were worth nothing. Predictable
4. Power Ranger Figurines
It doesn’t matter whether you were a girl or boy, the Power Ranger were the SHIT. They had awesome costumes and vehicles, plus when you put their parts together, it made a giant robot! Epic win. Everyone knows the ladies loved the Pink Ranger so of course I had a Pink Ranger Action Figure but get real, the yellow ranger’s sabertooth morph was awesome. I remember the boys in my elementary school being obsesssssed with playing power rangers every recess and waiting to watch the show in the afternoon. Ah the memories.
I kid you not, I had at least 5-7 of these bad boys hanging on a keychain in middle school. Tamagotchi’s were awesome but they also had Nano‘s which had variations of dogs, cats and babies. So I had one of each type of Nano as well as a Tamagotchi, a gigapet and a Pikachu version of these electronic gadgets. It would take a solid hour to feed and bathe my pocket sized friends (aka my entire recess). Whoever thought these were stupid literally ended up buying one the next week because it took over all social interaction. Something about knowing your little alien, baby or puppy was smiling and “happy” with you made you feel good. It was almost like teaching kids how to be parents except that after a year or so, everyone ran out of battery and no one cared anymore.
6. Cell phones
The cell phone came into existence during middle school but in high school, everyone had one. If you didn’t have a cell phone, you were a loser. I remember on my 14th birthday (freshman year) as a wore my super cool sling backpack to school, my phone rings but it sounded unfamiliar. That morning my Mom shoved this bad boy to the right —> into the pocket and I screamed with excitement. No only did this super high tech phone have a camera with flash, but it supported video which in 2003 was an accomplishment. Gone were the days of action figures and pocket sized pets, in were the Nokias, Sanyos and Ericksons. High school was all about keeping in touch with friends and being connected and a cell phone was the way to do it. Plus who didn’t play a mean game of Snake in their day? Or buy a see through light up cover for their cell phone?! Can I get an Amen?!?
The day I got Charlotte was momentous. My Dad gave me the choice between a Camry and a Convertible Camaro and I wasn’t sure if it was a trick question. My Dad’s boss was ready to part with her midlife crisis and I was ready to take it from her. Of course they bought it and hid it in my Aunt’s garage for 2 weeks until a party was in the makes. They convinced me that since my grandparent’s were out of town, we should throw a party and it’d be fun if I invited some of my friends. Since we do parties often, I believed this story and invited some of my closest friends (little fact: Rob was at the party lol). I was deceived until they asked me to grab something from the fridge and I found a cake that had “Have a Wheelin Good Time” on it. Out comes my car with a bow and as my parents handed me the keys, I put my top down and took her for a spin. Happiness was a car in High School. She served me well, and still sits in my driveway waiting for someone new to love her. Or for me to spend some money to fix her up nice and make her my weekend car…
8. Alcohol and freedom
College was an experience. I’m by NO means an alcoholic, even though my family swears I am (no one in my family drinks so they think that because I’ve had a sip, I’m a lush). I waited until college for the glorious experience of both alcohol and freedom, and boy did it taste good. The first time I had a minifridge in my room, I had cheese, deli meat and smirnoff ices chillin in it. Now being 22, everyone knows a Smirnoff Ice is a big fat joke. But I kid you not, they were mine and Rob’s drink of choice before actual Smirnoff made its debut. Upon Smirnoff vodka’s debut was pink vomit but that’s another story. Lol. I wouldn’t say alcohol is the epitome of college, which is why I added the note of freedom. The happiness in college came from knowing you could leave to visit your friends at 2 in the morning and the only people you had to answer to was your TA for the Sociology discussion at 8 am the next morning (which lets be real, their disappointment meant nothing to us). Freedom is the little voice in my ear that told me that my freshman chem teacher wasn’t taking roll and freedom is what told me to make the bad decision of drinking Smirnoff Watermelon as my first vodka. Happiness in college was in experiences, nights to remember and that occasional illustrious A you somehow managed when you only attended half of the lectures. Don’t get me wrong school was VERY important, I didn’t just party through it all but the fun times and the freedom is what made those 3 hour chemisty labs worth sitting through.
So as my photographic memories come to an end, its been a fun look back into the things that bring us joy. It makes me both nostalgic for the past when all I wanted was a Tamagotchi but also thankful for the amazing things I had been given in life. Just because the things that make us happy change throughout our lives, it doesn’t mean we can’t go back and revisit those things once in awhile. And I guess I come to an end because I’m still searching for what makes me happy now as a post-grad working gal. I’ll let you all know, when I find out!