Flashback Friday: The Summer of ’94 – The End of the Innocence

The wife and I aren’t ones to dwell in the past.

We’re not afraid of the future, and actually look forward to turning 40 (easy, we still have two years). We actually love watching our kids grow up, and look forward to what the future has in store for them. We don’t long for the days when they were infants, or toddlers, and love the fact that we’ve become just Aunties and Uncles, loving on our new nieces and then passing them on when a diaper change or feeding is needed.

We don’t long for the “Good Ol’ Days” either. Those days have past, and the past should remain in the past.

I think too often our generation wants to relive that past – the Good Ol’ Days. Thus #ThrowbackThursday, and desiring a need to keep in contact with friends from years past that have now become mere acquaintances. We’re unwilling to let go, or unlatch, when really we should just smile at the memories and move on.

I was somewhat inspired by all this after I read “Point After” an article in Sports Illustrated where Steve Rushin wrote about how we always view the past as a Golden Age, when things were seemingly better, when in fact they were basically the same as they are now. “But that’s how nostalgia works: In every age, the world was always better 40 years previously.” True!

So what am I going to do? Well, by golly, I’m going to highly contradict myself and every week until the end of summer look back at a summer in my life that has withstood the test of time. A summer that reminds me of the Good Ol’ Days, reminds me of old friends, lets me dwell on the past and remember a time when things were “better.” Instead of calling it Throwback Thursday, we’ll call it Flashback Friday! Yah, that’s the ticket!

It was the Summer of ’94 (remember, we’re just talking about the summer here, I don’t care that Kurt Cobain, or more importantly, John Candy died in the spring) and I was a 6-foot-tall, 145-pound weighing 16-year-old that was about to become a senior in high school.

I loved basketball, baseball … and that’s about it.

94 first day - color
Back to School: 1994

When I flashback to the Summer of ’94 I think of using my brother and his friend to prank call people that were dumb enough to put their numbers in my yearbook, conference-calling with a friend of mine, basketball in our wavy asphalt court in the backyard, occasional trips to the Boys & Girls Club for ping pong, and a lot of spending time with my three best friends, often playing basketball until midnight, followed by eating Jo Jo’s (potato wedges), Super Mario Kart, NBA Jam and talking about nonsense.

I didn’t have a girlfriend, and didn’t want to, though by the end of summer my mom was pleading me to find a date so I could attend a dance my senior year. I should stop and say I’m not sure if I didn’t want to, but I was content with not having one, as I would have no idea what to do with one if I had one.

Yes, I was a late bloomer … so!

I also wore No Fear gear, denim shorts, usually a hat and often anything Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns or San Diego Padres-related.

1994 Aunt Sandy Uncle Sherman visit

I did have a friend that was a girl, and we hung out often. But she had a boyfriend, who was also a friend of mine, and there was no way I was going to tell her that I liked her. No way! Plus, wasn’t it better just being friends?

We didn’t go on vacation, though my parents did take my brothers, friends and I on a camping trip to Lake Chelan. We were visited by family … and that’s about it. Mostly it was a summer just hanging out.

I call it the last summer of innocence because things changed shortly thereafter. I did find a girlfriend, did go to that dance, I finally got a job and eventually graduated high school. Real life was beginning, so in a way, the summer of ’94 was my last summer of being a kid. Bummer!

Because most of you won’t care about how I spent my summer I’ll stop talking about myself and start talking about the moments, movies, or music you might remember that played a part in my life.

The Dream Posterized
Summer started early when on May 15 my favorite dunk of all-time occurred. Kevin Johnson posterized Houston Rockets’ center Hakeem Olajuwon in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals. It was incredible and I still get pumped when I watch it 21 years later. I mean KJ is 6-foot-1, “The Dream” was 7-foot. Unfortunately for the Phoenix Suns, the Rockets ousted the Suns in seven games on their way to the 1994 NBA Championship.

“Crazy” about Alicia
My buddy and I were talking about who we were crushing on back in ’94. It was too early for Rachel Green AKA Jennifer Aniston (1995) or Mariah Carey (1996), and for some reason Alicia Silverstone kept popping up into my head. A quick IMDB check on Clueless; nope released in 1995. But wait … Aerosmith’s videos. Silverstone debuted in ’93 in “Cryin'” and reprised her naughty-girl role in ’94’s “Crazy” and well … here it is! By the way, Aniston, Carey, Silverstone in that order 20 years later.

Run O.J.! Run!
I remember my uncle and aunt visiting us on June 17 when O.J. Simpson decided to put reality TV on the map, and drive his white Ford Bronco (actually Al Cowlings drove, a probably extremely-guilty Simpson was hiding in the back) down Interstate 405 in a very slow-speed chase. We watched in amazement for hours (but why?), then decided to go get pizza (I remember choking briefly on cheese, man Dan’s in Sultan made great pizza) before returning home to finish the chase. Things changed that day.

“Stupid Is as Stupid Does”
I remember watching the previews for Forrest Gump and thinking, “This movie looks hilarious!” It was amusing, but it was also magical. Twenty-plus years later and it’s still one of my top 10 favorite films. It was funny, dramatic, had a wonderful story, great soundtrack, and a bit of action. Oh, and we were dead wrong about the movie being hilarious. I remember going to the theaters with my parents and brothers. None of us left with a dry eye. Silly as this sounds, but I learned a lot about history from Forrest Gump. So many great moments, and lines from the movie. Hard to choose one, but lately I’ve been exercising more, which includes running, and when I run, I think of Forrest.

Prelude to a Strike
One of the reasons I thought about writing these Flashback Friday posts was because of the recent Major League Baseball All-Star Game and how MLB was asking us via Twitter what our favorite All-Star Game moments were. Mine has always been the ’94 All-Star Game when two of my favorite players came up huge in the clutch. By the way, grew up a National League fan, will always root for the N.L. With the A.L. up 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth, ex-San Diego Padre, and current Atlanta Brave, Fred McGriff, hit a two-run home run to deep center off Lee Smith, knotting the score at 7-7. In the 10th Mr. Padre himself, Tony Gwynn, singled to center, then sprinted from first on a Moises Alou double, scoring the winning run in the 10th inning of what is still one of the most exciting All-Star Games ever! Too bad months later, with Gwynn pushing .400 (he finished at .394), baseball went on strike and the sport put a scar on the hearts of fans like myself.

The Boyz Are Back
I think the thing I’ll remember most about ’94 is the music. I read somewhere, or heard from someone, i don’t recall, that the music we listened to when we are 17, is the music we identify most with. Well, in 1994 I was on the brink of turning 17, and after seeing a list of the songs that were popular in ’94, I can fully agree with that statement.

Warren G’s “Regulate” was my brother and his friend’s anthem for ’94. He and his buddies called their bike gang “Regulators,” and my brother watched Young Guns II about 30 times that summer (he’ll likely correct me with the actual figure).

Aaliyah’s “Back and Forth,” Lisa Loeb’s “Stay,” Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage,” and Da Brat’s “Funkdafied” were all anthems to my summer, with the Crash Test Dummies “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” and Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand” reminding me of times spent with friends.

But two songs from that summer stand out. The first being one of the top played singles that year, All-4-One’s “I Swear” and the second being Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You,” to this day still my favorite jam.

I remember when KUBE93, the Seattle radio station we often listened to, teased Boyz II Men’s new single from their second album. I remember getting my tape ready so I could record it. I remember thinking that I’ve waited awhile for their follow up to 1992’s “End of the Road,” – and at the time, my current No. 1 jam. And I remember where I was (the lanai of our house) when I heard the song come on, how I turned on a dime and sprinted into the other room to hit RECORD/PLAY at the same time.

I loved it the first time I heard it (though I thought, “It’s about making love…I can’t relate to that!”), and 20 years later love it still (and can now relate).

Yes, it was the last summer of innocence, though I should admit I wasn’t that innocent. Still life was about to bring changes, and I was about to be introduced to real life, relationships, work and … forget it, let’s just listen to my Summer or ’94 playlist and remember a more innocent time.

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