The Wistful Decline of Nineties Nostalgia: A Short Story

Max is 25 years old

He and a group of his old college friends had just seen Jurassic World. His friends all agreed it was great. They debated whether it was as good as the original…Chris Pratt movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.

At the bar afterwards, they all laughed as they discussed Game of Thrones with another group of friends on Periscope. He did not participate. “Hey Max, you should really download Periscope,” Jenny said to him from a few seats away. “I think you’ll really like it.”

“I don’t know,” Max replied. “It just seems kind of dumb to me.”

“I feel like you just don’t really understand what it is,” she called back, just getting the sentence out before bursting in laughter at whatever was displayed on the phone Sally was holding in front of her face.

“I understand what it is,” Max said, annoyed. He definitely didn’t understand what Periscope was.

“It’s so great that we’re all back together,” an anonymous member of the group proclaimed to everyone and no one in particular.

“That’s for sure,” Karen replied to the anonymous voice. “I haven’t been able to stop eating all night though. I think I have food baby.”

“IT’S NOT A TOOMAH” Max yelled out, taking a step towards Karen and Sally’s bar seats to feel like he was comfortably a part of their conversation.

The room went silent. The whole group took a break from their separate conversations to turn and look at him. “Uhh, what was that, Max?” Dave said looking both embarrassed and concerned for Max’s reputation.

“Umm… you know…like… from…Kindergarden Cop,” Max replied. He was sweating.

The entire group made eye contact with each other, gave Max a patronizing nod and said “yeah, sure, man” before trying to reengage in their prior conversations. “Wow,” the anonymous voice said under its breath while rolling its anonymous eyes.

“We shouldn’t end the night here,” Karen yelled out. “Anybody have a suggestion for what we can all do later?”

“The new season of Orange is the New Black is out,” Sally responded. “We could all binge watch it at my place. We’ll Uber over there.”

Everyone except for Max seemed pleasantly in agreement that Sally had made a great recommendation. He thought there was still some room to convince them of a different plan.

“OR…we could watch a marathon of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while we have a Words With Friends tournament! We can order some ‘za from my Kindle Fire. And guysssss… I just found my old Smash Mouth CD! What do you think?!?!”

This time the group refused to humor Max. They all collectively pretended not to hear him. Defeated, Max threw the box of Milk Duds that he had brought with him from the movie theater on the ground and sulked away to an empty booth at the end of the bar.

Dave watched him from the corner of his eye. He and Max had known each other since before kindergarden. He put his hand on the shoulder of Megan, a girl he thought he always had great chemistry with in college but nothing ever happened between them, and said, “Hey, sorry to interrupt, but I’ll be right back.”

He walked over to Max’s booth and hinted that Max scoot over a bit so that he could sit next to him. He took a swig out of his bottle of beer, sighed, and said, “Hey, what’s wrong, bud, you’re acting a little weird.”

Dave, shifted around uncomfortably for a second, took a deep breath, lightly put both hands on the table and stared forward as he spoke.

“I don’t know, I guess I just don’t like how things have changed. I miss the days a few years back when everybody was really nostalgic about the nineties. I remember when I used to post videos and jokes about Boy Meets Worlds and Homeward Bound and Zoo Books on Facebook and they would get so many likes. Those nineties references were gold. I was like Jesse from Full House when I made a good nineties reference.”

Dave rubbed his chin and stared at the ceiling, thinking. “Hmmm, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook…Oh, is that that birthday reminder app?”

“Forget it, man,” Max said in dismay. “I just really miss a particular time, you know? Around 2012, maybe 2013 when the nineties nostalgia craze was at its peak. I just have a wistful yearning for that period of time. I wish there was a word for that.”

“There’s not,” Dave said bluntly. “At least not one that I’m aware of. Look, we’ve known each since when? 1995?”

“I was seven years old in 1995, Dave. How am I supposed to remember?”

“Okay, okay. But the point is that things change, but I’m still here and so are all your other friends.”

Later that night..

Max smiled.

“You know, you’re a pretty good friend. I’m lucky to have you and I’ll always be here when you need me.”

He turned off his Tomagotchi, turned on his Macklemore Pandora channel and drifted to sleep.

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