Hate is one powerful word. In fact, hate is like the Hulk of words. It can just smash into things without a care in the world. I don't usually hate things. So this week's assignment for the League was quite a change of pace for me. The topic was, what piece of pop culture did you hate as a kid? I'm a true southern lass and was brought up to never hate anything. It is times like these that I wish I was a true bad girl, you know the kind: wearin' cha-cha heels and stompin cigarettes out with a well pedicured toe while wearing skin tight pants that I may or may not be sewn into. Alas I am nothing close to being a true bad girl.
Oh what did I hate as a kid? The things I hated as a kid were, like, brussel sprouts and learning how to talk. How could I hate anything from pop culture? I was a child of the 80's, one of the best decades for pop culture. It would of course been rather simple to say what I hated about the current landscape of pop culture, but I had to focus! This was about my time on this Earth as a kid. What shred of pop culture did I hate at that time?
So unable to come up with something, I decided to maybe see if some of the other members of the League could help inspire me... Calvin hated Archie Wood and Friends. Which, had I grown up watching that show, I would have probably hated too. I had almost thought about my partial hate for ponies of the little personal variety, but Geeky Vixen covered that hate pretty darn well. Bubba Shelby also spoke of his hate for a group of real plastic heroes and the iffy cartoon they starred in. Of course I did think of music, but who am I kidding, I loved bands like New Kids on the Block. Incidentally, even though I may love those crooning scalawags, check out a fresh perspective on the hate side of NKOTB from thirtyishyyearoldboy. And of course the always fabulous Shezcrafti revealed her hate for a monstrous gem that I had totally forgotten about. (Now I just need a hypnotist to make sure it stays buried in my psych. Forever.)
With all these moments of pop culture hate out and about, I still found myself lost. What could I possibly hate so much that it would warrant a lengthy diatribe? And then it hit me: balls. But not just any balls. Plastic balls. More to the point, plastic balls found in a ball pit.
That's right, as a kid I hated the ball pit! Back in the 80's and early 90's a big part of pop culture was attending birthday parties at those entertainment centers, like Chuck E. Cheese, Leaps and Bounds, and the always fun- Peppermint Park. I had a love/hate relationship with entertainment centers. The pizza and cake was good, but there was just so much danger around every corner, especially in the areas with tubes, bouncy floors/walls, and of course the ball pit.
So as a kid I hated the ball pit for many reasons. In the beginning the biggest reason was that I thought the ball pit was bottomless. Yep. I was that kid. I was terrified that if you didn't swim to stick to the top, you'd simply sink to the bottom, drowning in a sea of plastic balls. (Well there goes my social life.)
Now I realize that the ball-pit-hate was basically motivated by fear (as any good little psychoanalyst would tell me) but the fact is I thought you could basically die in a ball pit. And I was too cute to die in a ball pit. Of course as I got a little older and a little wiser, I realized that I would indeed survive a trip into the ball pit. That is when my other hates for this pop culture institution of yesteryear really came into focus.
You see, even as a kid, I was aware of when something was grody or not. And at first my eventual comfort of entering into the ball pit was purely joyous. I had finally shed that boring layer of fear and was just relishing time spent with my cousins and friends.
Then things got nasty. Other kids began to share war stories, like the rumors of that one bully kid who would hog the ball pit for himself. Content to attack other kids at free will, the cautionary tale of the bully ball pit kid was only mildly threatening as reports of more atrocious things were beginning to unfold.
There was the infestation story, where one kid found dried vomit on a few of the balls. (At least, she thought it was vomit.) Or there was the story of the little boy finding a missing tooth and some dried blood on a dingy yellow plastic ball. And that wasn't even close to the horror story of the kid peeing in a ball pit and tossing the damp balls at other bystanders. Grody I tell you, just grody.
So that is how I came to hate the ball pit and everything it stood for. It was essentially a cesspool that our parents were ok dropping us off at because they needed a break from us. A messy piece of pop culture that could of destroyed our immune systems, and nearly did. Those calcium deposits on my lungs had to come from somewhere.
However, I must give some love to Peppermint Park. I have no idea if that place was part of a chain, but it was a really fun place near where I lived as a kid. It was older and the whole place had a quaint run-down feel, almost like it hadn't changed since the 60's or something. It was also more of an affordable place during the heyday of entertainment centers like Leaps and Bounds and such. Sadly it closed up shop and eventually became a mega church. We have a lot of those in the south. (Le sigh.)
So there you have it, a piece of pop culture that I absolutely hated as a kid. I shudder to think what would have become of me had I been the one to find the dried up vomit...
Until next time everyone! And, if you are interested to read about any other hateful pop culture relics of folk's youth, head over to Cool and Collected and learn more about the League! Take care everybody.