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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Another Year in Review

Holy crap, it's 2006. I'm not sure if I'm quite ready for the new year. Just as I was getting used to writing 2005, they go and switch it up on us all. Couldn't we just push New Year's back a month or two to give us all a buffer zone? Anyway, I still feel like I'm living in 2005 and am certainly not ready to start reflecting on it yet. But I do feel I've had enough time to digest 1995, and, man, what a year that was.

My life was much simpler in 1995. Instead of being a 21 year old trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, I was an 11 year old figuring out how many marshmallows I could fit in my mouth. This was not to say that 1995 was a carefree time. Fifth grade was full of stresses. For one, girls all of a sudden started to get taller (and meaner) than the boys in my class. My friend, Sam, broke his arm due in large part to the Randy Johnson-esque throwing capacity of one rather hormonally-driven 11-year-old girl in an exhibition kickball game. His game never quite recovered from the incident.

Taking a lesson from Sam, in 1995 I decided to prove my athletic prowess in an equally competitive sport: pogs. For those of you not familiar with this 1995 phenomenon, "pogs" may have been the pinnacle of youth athletics, rivaling even the likes of T-ball, foursquare and making the loudest fart noise with your armpit in the back of the bus. To the unaware, "pogs" was a game played with cheaply designed cardboard circles stacked in a pile that children attempted to flip over with a cheaply designed plastic circle.

To the fifth-grader, it was a combination of marbles, baseball card collecting and high-stakes Las Vegas No Limit Texas Hold 'Em poker. Legends were born and vast fortunes of cardboard were won and lost with the simple flick of the wrist back in 1995. That was until recess was over.

Once you threw school dances, sleepless nights of Super Nintendo, Fruit Roll-Ups, and long division into the mix, it could get pretty stressful back then. Now that I think about it, in comparison, I had it pretty good in 2005. At least the girls were smaller than me (well, most of them).

For the rest of the country, 1995 was equally as turbulent. While "Ace Ventura 2" and "Jumanji" were rocking the box office, Coolio and Hootie & The Blowfish were blaring through brand new "compact disc" players. Such pop culture still troubles many of us today, but actually didn't seem that bad at the time with the 1980s and stonewashed denim so close behind.

Technology, as with popular culture, lagged behind today's standards. Thanks to Al Gore, the internet was first coming into many households in 1995. Most people, however, still didn't really know what it was though. Just installing Windows 95 was a big step in my family. Ten years later at Dartmouth, I can't imagine what my life would be like without the internet. I checked my blitz more often than I checked what time it was in 2005. A couple times last fall, I would even hear that sweet soft ding of a blitz notification in my head while checking my Hinman Box.

Even mass paranoia has evolved since 1995. I know because I come from a family full of paranoid, anxious people. In 1995, there wasn't really much to be afraid of. The world seemed like a much safer place. For one, bacteria hadn't yet been invented. In 2005, you couldn't leave your house without hearing health advisories about the Bird Flu and the West Nile Virus. While both of these diseases may have only infected chickens and pigeons last year, it sure felt like they were waiting just around the corner.

In 1995, we had some badass diseases like the Ebola Virus, but we didn't even care. While Ebola was spreading like wildfire in countries like Zaire with the potential to turn into a plague-like global pandemic, we had much more important things to spend our time on, like learning the Macarena.

Some things have stayed the same though. One of the biggest news headlines from 1995 was OJ Simpson's acquittal in two counts of homicide. Coincidentally, in 2005, another big time celebrity, Michael Jackson, was acquitted from charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy. I don't quite consider myself a conspiracist, but I finally had proof that the justice system protects not only innocent non-famous people, but also super-famous celebrities who just happen to be murderers and child molesters.

Looking back, 1995 doesn't really seem that far away. I feel like only yesterday I was drinking Capri Sun with my straw through the bottom, wearing Penny Hardaway's basketball shoes, looking back to my life in 1985. I had come a long way in those first ten years. I'm not quite sure what happened in the next ten years, but I'm still down if you're ever looking for a game of pogs.