In search of the Hardy BoysWritten by Melanie Dusseau | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I like pink flamingos and shag carpeting. Give me a curio-cabinet; I’ll fill it with thimbles, state magnets, extinct beer cans, salt spoons, wooden nickels, martini shakers, ”I Like Ike” buttons, and vintage Vegas casino ashtrays. A mint condition Avon Derringer Perfume Gun? Yes, please. A statue of John Wayne that doubles as a whiskey bottle someone converted into a candle? Even better. And still, that ultimate prize evades me. I excavate fat stacks of Pat Boone 45s, toss aside headless Barbies and briefly consider how the pop-up die from Trouble might look on my coffee table. All in vain. Hardy Boys lunchbox, which dark corner of the thrift store conspires to hide you from me?
I can still see Frank and Joe’s too bright, 1970s airbrushed smiles. How that perfectly coiffed, soft-porn feathered hair made my young heart beat. Track suits and pointy collars. Inside: leftover City Chicken and a thermos of Tang. Early evenings, the Dundee Street Three played kick-the-can and made Princess Leia head coils with stolen pantyhose. Lend me your Bonnie Bell lip-gloss and I’ll let you look at the new Tiger Beat. Last one in from ghost-in-the-graveyard has to be the usher at my marriage to the life-sized poster of Shaun Cassidy. Every day of grade school I carried the Hardy Boys’ wholesome, mystery-solving, sexy can-do attitude. I imagined myself the South End’s Nancy Drew, gazed at my beautiful lunchbox over soggy fries and rectangular pizza. Yes, I carried it even when I didn’t pack! Does Joanie love Chachi?
If I could just get my hands on that lunchbox, I might see her again. Poking around the mysteries of her Rustbelt backyard, a grass-stained girl who grew to love compound adjectives and, if pressed, will admit she still finds both Parker and Shaun kind of hunky in the way only nostalgic former celebrity crushes can be. O, kitsch lovers, isn’t that the very problem with nostalgia? There are not enough moon boots and art deco lampshades in all the thrift stores of all the world that could transport us to another time. But sometimes, we can be reminded. It could be a Donnie and Marie tambourine or a Charlie’s Angels windbreaker that slams us back with the full force of memory, as only pop culture and the scent of campfires can do, to the old neighborhood, to the corner store, to ours lives before they became this. Fear not, junk collectors. There will always be weirdo America, plump in her flower-printed housecoat and so baffled that all her stuff is suddenly such precious goods, she’ll usually let them go for a quarter. Now, if you come across that lunchbox meet me at the corner of Airport and Apple, I’ll trade you a pack of Bazooka and a whole sheet of stickers.
E-mail Melanie Dusseau at email@example.com.