DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Forty-Four.
Monday, 2022.07.04, 1:53 PM central time.

Independence Day, Mandarin Orange Slice, and yearning for 1990.
Current Mood:  Accomplished, extremely nostalgic, and grateful.
Current Scent:  Gothic II by Loree Rodkin, from a sample.


"You're no heartthrob of the ages
You're not anything

You're not half the person
That your mama swore you could be
All my life
I've tried to walk the line
You're no heartthrob of the ages
You're not bigger than your demons, no..."

Empty Streets, "Heartthrob of the Ages," 2021.


Yesterday afternoon, I went to the grocery store with my girlfriend.  It's an experience that I absolutely adore, because we get a chance to do something necessary for our households while still spending time together and having good conversations.

While at Reasor's, I mentioned Mandarin Orange Slice.  She didn't remember the "mandarin" part, but she did remember drinking Orange Slice when she was younger.  I told her that If she had Orange Slice, then it had to have been Mandarin Orange Slice, because that was the only Orange Slice ever produced by Pepsi.

(Online research later revealed that I was wrong.  Whoops!  According to Wikipedia, which I realize isn't the most credible source, Pepsi reformulated Mandarin Orange Slice in 1997 and released the new "Orange Slice" at that point for a while.  Considering that she's twelve years my junior... this is very likely what she remembers.)

So, even though I knew it was not a sound nutritional choice, I bought a two-liter of Orange Crush.  It was the closest I could get to Mandarin Orange Slice, and the nostalgia was hitting hard.

Today, the temperature is set to reach 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

I have my sons with me, and we will be heading out with my ex-wife this evening to have the traditional July 4th dinner from Sonic and then watch some fireworks somewhere.



I miss 1990.

I mean - don't get me wrong.  My boys and my girlfriend mean a LOT to me.  But 1990... God, I wish I could revisit.

I wish that I could be celebrating the fourth of July of 1990, sitting on the deck of my family's swimming pool, or maybe standing down in the pool, alternating between cans of Cherry Coca-Cola and Mandarin Orange Slice, having a lighthearted party with Dave and Kevin and Billy... and some girls, of course.

Maybe my parents and maternal grandparents could be inside, with my mom and grandpa playing gin while talking about movies.

Mom could come out to the pool for a minute to tell me that I needed to call someone back about a new EKG Mobile Music and Light Show DJ booking.  Maybe I could convince her to make a run into Claremore to pick up some pizzas from Simple Simon's.

Once we were all done with the pool, right around sunset, we could all get dried off and then have a party in the garage, with Dave and I going back and forth on DJ duty.  "Policy of Truth" would have been the latest Depeche Mode single at the time.

At one point, I'd want a slow track, since slow-dancing was always more of my speed.  DM's "Waiting for the Night" and/or DM's "Blue Dress" and/or Duran Duran's "Secret Oktober" could be played.

But, in this case, I would swap out my girlfriend at the time (turned out, loyalty wasn't her strong suit) for Melissa from Foyil.  What a kind soul she was.  She deserved better than she got, but I hope that life eventually treated her well.

Once the laughter had subsided, the music had ended, all of the pizza and the Mandarin Orange Slice had been consumed, and most of the people had gone home, perhaps I could go inside and play some "Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu" on the Nintendo.

And then, just maybe, I could sleep and dream without the worries of a true adult.



I never celebrated the fourth of July with those friends in 1990.  We had similar experiences during that summer, but not on Independence Day.

Half a decade later, almost all of those friends would have moved away or disappeared from my life... and I would be having all-new adventures with new friends at a video store, while pursuing my bachelor's degree, DJing for events, and battling mental illness.

Pepsi would stop producing Mandarin Orange Slice in 1997.

Seven years later, my grandpa would be dead.

Three years after that, my mom would die... and around that time, the pool would be dismantled and sold off, leaving a big, permanent circle in the lawn.

Three years after that, my dad would die.

Less than three years after that, my grandma would die.



At fifty, I can still see the memories so clearly, and so beautifully... but they torment me.

I was such a different person then, interesting and kind, but deeply flawed.

The old me wouldn't have liked the current me - for numerous reasons.  But, God, how I love and miss that awkward, wavy-haired little dude from thirty-two years ago.


Thanks again, everyone.



[Edit:  2022-07-07 - Changed the quote to something more appropriate from a different Empty Streets track.]

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