What Do the 80s Smell Like?

My 9 year old son has been asking him to teach him how to work out with gym equipment. I decided to take him for the first time, start him off on some kettlebells, then move on to resistance bands, and finally some machines. I'm no fitness expert, but I read up on what's good for the human body and I studied up to make sure I wouldn't do more harm than good.

When I took him into the locker room for the first time as a "gym rat," I experienced something almost indescribable. I was transported back to the Mid-Island Y, circa 1984, in their locker room, with my father. It was as if I was having an out-of-body experience, shifting back and forth from son to father and back to son again. I was trying to figure out why it was happening, and listened to hear if 80s music was playing, because music can so easily transport me.

But this was a generalized transport back to the 80s era. Not specific moments like Chuck Mangione's late 70s horn on "Feels So Good" transporting me to a wicker and glass furniture store or remembering "Family Ties" every time Billy Vera's "At This Moment" came on the radio. Or slow dancing at bar and bat mitzvahs to any one of a number of songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I would feel nervous and courageous at the same time, knowing I would have the opportunity to ask a girl, any girl, to dance for the entirety of a slow song. I've been to bar and bat mitzvahs in the 2000s--there is no slow dancing for adolescents now. No mirrored sign-in boards. My son will never have the same kind of flashback.

No, I was transported back to any number of days in the 80s, when colognes such as Drakkar Noir or Aramis or Paco Rabanne seemed to collide with each other in plumes of hot blowdryer air. Does anyone young wear cologne anymore?

As a kid, anyone older than I was was older than dirt. But the fathers back then were younger than I am now. Surrounded by stooped men in towels, my son pinched his nose. He didn't seem to know what that olfactory assault was. He is very sensitive to smell; so am I. Meanwhile, I kept asking myself, "I know what the 80s looked like. I know what the 80s felt like. But is this what the 80s smelled like for everyone else? Or was it just me?"