The 80s Were the 50s

by Sean Hanrahan

They wanted you to believe it was the ‘50s
those ‘80s purveyors of Teen Beat, Tiger 
Beat, Bop, and other idol mags replete with 
pinups of cherubic porn stars in popped up 
collars posed against the ubiquitous woodsy 
backdrop every mustachioed photographer 
knew and loved, or in front of perfectly 
manicured lawns with the perquisite white picket 
fences and blurry blooms of promise. Action 
shots of standing up on rolling bicycles or 
straddling unscuffed surfboards, insipid 
interviews mentioning their favorite ice cream 
flavor was vanilla, always vanilla, or they were 
saving intercourse for where it belonged—
the glistening future of marriages, mortgages, 
and malcontented kids. These paragons of bygone 
virtue always grew up to be queers, drug addicts,
and other things McCarthy wouldn’t like,
but as a rapt child lying prostrate in my upper
bunk bed with my feet crossed behind me,
I savored each PR morsel as if it were manna
fallen from the suburban summer sky. I hungered 
to pull out my transistor radio and swoon to some Elvis 
or rockabilly hits, while imagining each celebrity 
in turn would swoop down from Mt. Olympus just to court 
me at next Saturday’s sock hop right after I sewed the poodle 
on my skirt, padded my bra, and promised my mother
I wouldn’t allow any heavy petting in the front seat
of his overpriced, fresh-off-the-lot Cadillac.

Those fuckers had me hook, line, and picture.

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