My birthday’s coming!
No presents, please. But if you must, I like anything from P.S. I Love You.
Oh, sorry, scratch that. The store, which was near our house on the Upper West Side, no longer exists, and I’m no longer 12. But if this were 1981…
You could buy me anything from P.S. I Love You and I’d be happy.
If you google P.S. I Love You, all you’ll find is some crappy movie with Hillary Swank. The only evidence I have of its existence is a sticker my mom saved on a box, in a storage room that also houses my old Mad Magazines and the game I got for my 6th birthday, Gnip Gnop.
So. P.S. I Love You was a tiny store that sold things for tweens before they were called tweens, and encapsulated the look of the early 1980s before we were aware there was a look to the early 1980s.
If you don’t know what that look was, the primary visual assets were: satin, puffy, rainbow, glossy, hearts, lips, and unicorns.
Unicorns were not a punchline about everyone getting along and being self-actualized. They were GODS.
Rainbows had no sexual identity. They were a style enhancer. No rainbow was too much rainbow. You could put a rainbow pin or sticker on anything: your notebook, your sneakers, your Jordache denim jacket, your shiny Le Sportsac, your rainbow suspenders.
And then there were all things lips.
Can we discuss lips? In the early 80s, they were everywhere. Pins shaped like lips. Stickers of lips. Lip shoelaces. Giant satin lip pillows. If you were super-cool, and your parents didn’t care about wasting electricity, you had a neon sign in your bedroom of lips. Or, even better, lips drinking from a straw. Lips, lips, lips. It seems like a random thing to make iconic. Why not fingers?
Whatever the hopes and dreams we invested in lips and other arbitrary image fetishes, P.S. I Love You cashed in.
Shoelaces covered in hearts, stars, ice cream cones, rainbow ice cream cones, party hats, strawberries, cherries, rubiks cubes, smiley faces. If it’s now an emoticon, you could once buy it on a shoelace from P.S. I Love You.
Puffy pins. Ceramic pins. Stickers, stickers, stickers, on spools.
Nothing represented the concept of “abundance” to me better than a spool of ice cream cone stickers, which always looked infinite. No way did they ever run out of those ice cream stickers. That spool was forever.
Soft sculpture dolls.
I had a satin, soft-sulpture unicorn from P.S. I Love You hanging over my bed. It had a glorious mien of pastel rainbow silk strings.
And, of course, ribbon barrettes (see pic below) and ribbon barrette fixin’s so you could make your own, or make them for your best friend, or for your fake best friend. I made my own for my very, very best friend: me. (6th grade was a tough year.)
When everyone had their bat mitzvahs, one girl in my Hebrew School class would always neglect to bring a present, and tell you, “A P.S. I Love You gift certificate is in the mail!” I don’t have to tell you, it never was.
Now when someone tells me they got me a present but didn’t bring it, I know I’ve been “P.S. I Love You’d.”
What store from your childhood do you miss? I’ve asked that before, but I love hearing it.
Or, if you were turning 10, 11, or 12, what could we get you for your birthday?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
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