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Totally, For Sure!
by Nicole Freire

I have recently discovered a grocery store chain that carries these paper towels. They may be the generic brand or the house brand, but all I know is that I can't stop from cracking up in the toilet paper/paper towel aisle when I see them. I also can't stop myself from buying them, because they are so totally AWESOME!

I try to imagine the conversations that went on at the advertising agency that held this particular grocery chain account because I am fairly sure that someone has pulled the wool over someone else's eyes and they did an AWESOME! job of it. It has to be the work of some Gen X'er who first proposed the name in some endless advertising meeting.

I guess this because as a Gen X'er myself, I know perfectly well what AWESOME! really means and it is not paper towels. No, AWESOME! clearly belongs to a certain decade and you know which one I'm referring to. Yes, the 1980's.

What's that you say? You lived in the 1980's? You said things like, "for sure for sure"? How about, "dude, that is so rad!" Oh yes I did. And it was AWESOME!

Check this photograph out. Yes, this is my sister and I again. And I can hear you commenting already. Let's see, I've got bangs that I curled with a curling iron -- check. I've got long hair that has been highlighted through some combination of a hair salon and Sun-In
80s Girls
-- check. I am wearing so much Cover Girl blue eyeliner that I cannot believe my mother let me out of the house. And let's not forget the lip-gloss. You can practically see the reflection of the camera on my lips. Too bad the picture isn't full length. If it was, you could have seen my AWESOME! Chemin De Fer jeans in pink and my high top Reeboks in blinding white. AWESOME!

This photograph was taken in 1987. I found some other photographs from that time but in one of them I am wearing a shirt with an enormous paisley print and in the other I am wearing an Esprit (remember them?) sweatshirt with green and pink triangles accented with squiggly yellow lines that are puffy, as if they were made with puffy paint. I also have one of my junior prom dress - in pink - that has sleeves bigger than my head. I can only share so much.

I remember the 80's so clearly because three events coincided with each other to make a perfect storm of 1980's memories.

One, we moved from Sacramento to Santa Maria in 1980. Two, in 1980 my mother went to work, leaving my sister and me as latchkey kids. And three, Santa Maria was some sort of test market for MTV, and it was on all the time. AWESOME!

Before 1980 and the move down south, my sister and I were only able to watch the following on television: anything on PBS. Every once in a while we would sneak an episode of "Laverne and Shirley", usually when we had a babysitter who was easily swayed by two annoying girls. They were probably happy we stopped talking for half an hour.

But then! It was so AWESOME! To come home from school and watch MTV (without commercials! Imagine!) for hours upon hours, rendering every song and video from then on permanently burned into my brain. You name me any song from the 80's, and I can tell you exactly what happened in the video. I can also remember Martha Quinn because she was the first - and my favorite "VJ" of all time.

And yes, I had a copy of "Valley Girl" on vinyl and I dreamed of someday going to the Galleria in Sherman Oaks to shop for more eyeliner. Or Reeboks.

I will even admit to having a playlist on my iPod named only "80's stuff", so I can listen to the Human League and Bryan Ferry and a band strangely named Haircut 100 without being mocked. So I can listen to the bands of my youth in private.

Let's return to that advertising meeting, shall we? We've got our Gen X'er, now coming up in his/her 40's and having to spend their days pitching names for paper towels. I imagine them joking, perhaps at a wine bar the day before --- "Hey, at tomorrow's meeting, let's pitch the name awesome for the paper towels!" And someone else chimes in with, "Yeah, but it has to have that 80's swoopy lettering with a giant explanation point!" You know, AWESOME! Then they reminisce about their ‘Grad Night' at Disneyland and seeing the following bands: Wang Chung, Glass Tiger, and I am not making this up because I was there -- Bobby Brown when he was still cute and not on crack.

So they go to the meeting and pitch AWESOME as the name for the paper towels and maybe some older person, you know, in their 50's or 60's says, "Awesome? What is awesome about paper towels?" And that Gen X'er has done their homework and they say "Oh, awesome, as in "filled with awe" and these paper towels, may I just say that their ability to soak up spills is indeed awe-inspiring."

Next thing you know AWESOME paper towels has been greenlit and the Gen X'ers meet at a tapas bar this time and get drunk on sangria and can't believe their good fortune and they laugh and laugh at the thought of paper towels being shipped all over the United States because they are AWESOME! And they say things like, "Dude, that pitch meeting was radical!" "Totally bitchin!"

You know what else was AWESOME the 1980's? The movie, "Valley Girl". Don't simply dismiss it as some trite reflection on the exploding consumer power of girls wearing lots of hair spray. It has the best Nicolas Cage performance ever committed to film. Just try not to fall in love with him as he sulks in a Hollywood bar listening to the Plimsouls sing, ‘A Million Miles Away' because his girlfriend from the Valley broke up with him.

Because it's AWESOME!

# # # #

Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.

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