What do the movies “Gremlins 2,” “Loaded Weapon,” “Crocodile Dundee,” “War of the Roses,” “Who’s Harry Crumb?” and “Weekend at Bernie’s” all have in common?
You guessed it: footsie. (Well, maybe you didn’t guess it.)
All those films from years past featured scenes involving that covert, usually extramarital, game played under the table between adults wearing panty hose and black dress socks.
It’s hard for me to know whether footsie was ever really something people did or if it was just a decade-long Hollywood trend from the 1980s. There aren’t too many people over 50 I’m comfortable enough with to ask if they ever played footsie.
But I can say this: There were a few years back there when I thought the adults were having some kind of secret fun under the table while we kids were dropping food and getting yelled at family parties.
I’m an adult now, sort of, and I don’t know anyone my age who has ever played footsie.
And footsie’s just one of many 1980s Hollywood activities I was led to wonder about. Would they someday be a part of my regular life? As I got older, I realized life is nothing like the movies and TV shows I grew up watching.
I finally started to notice how fake Hollywood was when I began partying in high school. All the parties in movies looked like so much fun. They had bands, kegs stacked in corners, crazy games involving Jell-O and gorgeous people in every hallway and bedroom. It was always warm out, too.
My parties in high school? We usually spent the entire night drinking Old English in the woods while it snowed. We didn’t have bands, we had cassette tapes that had to be flipped every 30 minutes.
Sure, we had laughs and got great memories, but we didn’t have girls who looked 29 and drove convertibles.
Jell-O games? Ha! Our games involved flicking dirty change ripped from the sticky cup holder in someone’s 1988 Ford Escort into glasses of beer. And we didn’t have keg beer; we had warm cans of now-defunct brews like Red Dog and Meister Brau.
It was nothing like “Teen Wolf” or “Weird Science” at all.
It was really all downhill from there, too.
Watching ’80s movies, I thought for sure I’d have a robot doing everything around the house for me by now. Yet all I have are these little one-trick ponies that can brew a single cup of coffee or vacuum my pool. They don’t iron my shirts and then hang out with me, giving me advice. They’re nothing like Johnny V from “Short Circuit” or Pauly’s robot in “Rocky IV.” Those droids were like part of the family.
And how much more boring is domestic life today than it was in 1980s television? It’s just me and my wife around my house. Sure, some of my friends have kids, but I don’t know anyone with a random male father figure living with them. Where’s Mr. Belvedere? How come Charles is no longer in charge?
No, life’s nothing like I thought it would be.
My life has no catchy theme song to go with it. When I go to a bar, nobody knows my name. And believe it or not, I never walk on air.
I’m just a regular guy with a regular car. No flux capacitors. No talking dashboard. No doors that open vertically.
At least the shows and movies kids watch today seem to be a bit more grounded in reality. Maybe, when they grow up, they won’t be so disappointed to learn the only thing most adults do with their feet is walk on them.
Michael White is the editor of the Riverhead News-Review and The North Shore Sun. He can be reached at [email protected] or (631) 298-3200.