The 80s brought knee-high socks with colored stripes, video arcades with Pac-Man and Centipede, and T-Tops for hot cars like Corvettes and Datsuns. In 1982, I wore the socks, Jeff went to the arcade, and dad quit his job as a mechanic to open up a shop putting T-Tops and sunroofs in cars.
The shop was full of dreams: a whole cabinet of spray paint where the cabinet door was used to color test, two packets of fabric samples with names like argyle 6 and traditional chocolate, and hundreds of scraps of multi-colored wire that could be twisted into balls or glued to construction paper.
But the shop was off-limits; dangerous and full of tools. On rare winter Saturdays, when dad had to get some work done, he would take us to his work and we had to sit in the waiting room and shoot rubber bands at each other or dare one another to drink from the hot water machine.
One Saturday in ’83, dad loaded us into the van and took us to work. We walked into the waiting room and sat. Dad smiled and asked, “do you guys want to go into the shop?” We jumped and ran toward the shop. “I call the spray paint,” I yelled as I ran. As soon as the carpet changed to concrete, my jaw dropped. There, in the middle of the shop, was a bright pink, stretch limousine. We ran to the back door of the car and pulled it open. Inside, it was big like our living room, with fancy china-rose leather seats and automatic door locks.
There was a hole in the roof where the sunroof was being installed and we took turns peeking our heads out. Dad brought the camera and took pictures of us. We blinked at the flash and the 80s turned into the 90s. Knee-high socks gave way to ankle-high, arcades gave way to home video game systems, and T-Tops gave way to common sense and dad closed the shop. The pictures from that Saturday are the only ones of us ever in the shop.
There’s no shop where I work. I have no awesome multi-colored wire pieces, just a series of offices, a conference room, and a courtroom. Last week, though, I had a visitor. While I wish I had a pink limo to show him, he was pretty happy just to have some papers to crumple.