If some youngster were to ask me what living in the Eighties
was like, I would think for a moment (doubtless stroking my long white beard) and give one of three answers:
The first is this: that living in America during the 1980s was like suddenly finding that your country's public life had turned into a giant frat party. Whether you were the kind of person who found a frat party delightful or terrifying largely determined your reactions to the events around you.
The second is this: that at the decade's height, the three most prominent pop culture icons were a beer-selling dog surrounded by simpering women in bikinis, a Coke-selling computerized talking head, and a singing and dancing Black man whose features were surgically altered to make him look whiter.
And the third is this: that a friend of mine in high school once confessed to me that he was often unable to sleep through the night; he would awaken sometime around two in the morning and lie there in his bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking over and over to himself, the missiles could be on their way now.