few days ago, my wife and I joined some friends for a gathering
during a few rare hours when we weren't busy hauling a teenager
to some kind of expensive activity or hosting an entire herd of
them at our home to ransack our pantry and abuse the plumbing. The
highlight of the get-together was watching the final episode of
"Stranger Things," Season 4, Volume 1 on Netflix while snacking,
catching up, snacking, reminiscing, snacking and snacking.
About a week before our friend gathering, my wife and I began the
harrowing process of cleaning out the bedroom of our youngest of
three teenage daughters to prepare for the delivery of new furniturebecause
she claimed she could no longer fit into her childhood bed without
becoming a professional street contortionist (which doesn't sound
too bad to me). Throughout the ordeal, I couldn't help drawing parallels
between the "Stranger Things" universe and this bedroom reorganization
Now, I realize that some of you have better things to do than binge-watch
original programming on an overpriced streaming service that is
vying for the few dollars you have left after purchasing gasoline
or a tube of ground beef at Walmart. So, let me summarize the basic
plot of this tribute to 1980s sci-fi films called "Stanger Things."
The series centers around a group of nerdy teenagers in the 1980s
who discover another dimension of reality known as The Upside Downa
dark and foreboding place where adolescents age 18 and under are
tormented by supernatural monsters (and I don't mean their parents).
The teens fight the monsters with the help of a friend who has escaped
from an oppressive research facility (and I don't mean high school)
and possesses telekinetic powers, chronic nosebleeds and the ability
to cry on command.
The first notable comparison is with the teenage main characters
of the series, who, aside from a few paranormal murders, are all
experiencing typical hormonal turmoil, parental conflicts and feelings
of anxiety about leaving their childhoods behind. Our daughter's
recent angst has mainly revolved around deciding which items in
her stockpile of toys and stuffed animals to get rid of and which
to continue hoarding in her "new" room until layers of prehistoric
dust render them unrecognizable.
After waiting a few days for her to meticulously pick through approximately
one million Lego pieces, I finally issued the idle threat that if
she didn't finish sorting them soon, I would donate them all to
the Ukrainian army to scatter around for the invading Russians to
step on. I'm happy to say she made the mature decision just to keep
all of the Legos, probably in hopes that I would leave her alone.
Next is the show's supernatural dimension known as The Upside Down,
which one of the teen characters describes as a "dark reflection
or echo of our world . . . a place of decay and death . . . a place
of monsters," which brings me to our daughter's bedroom.
In addition to the typical teenager debris consisting of a dozen
half-full plastic water bottles (none of them on coasters), crumb-filled
Goldfish cracker wrappers, some unidentifiable and partially-eaten
foodstuffs, and an array of soiled clothing, the monster in question
takes the form of Biscuit, her Maltese-mix doglet. Along with laying
the occasional organic land mine, Biscuit has a bizarre penchant
for nibbling multiple holes in designer bedding sets. My daughter's
room is truly a macabre place I'm often reluctant to enter, which
is probably the way she prefers it.
There are other "Stranger Things" parallels I could draw involving
the bumbling parents and the questionable hairstyles in the show,
but suffice it to say that because our youngest daughter has two
older sisters, this isn't our first trip into the Upside Down of
teenage interior design. I'm just glad our own series is ending
with Season 3.