14 Things You Did In The '90s That Were Shady AF
It is only natural for kids to want to test boundaries and question authority — it is how we grow and learn. But all excuses aside, back in the ‘90s, we did some seriously shady things — and got away with them, too! In that glorious decade technology was fairly basic and we used it to our advantage. We were a bunch of creative little liars 99 percent of the time with a blatant disrespect for “the rules.” Just look at the movies we were raised with: The Parent Trap, Blank Check, not to mention all the Home Alone movies. It was Crystal Pepsi-clear in the '90s that kids rule, grown-ups drool. No wonder we were such mischievous little troublemakers.
Whether we were ordering 20 pizzas to some stranger’s house or changing the grades on our report cards from Fs to Bs (surprisingly easy) we were always up to something nefarious. We were certainly creative when it came to entertaining ourselves, and despite all the trouble we caused, I’d say as a whole we have become pretty cool adults. Our generation has maintained that puckish spirit — questioning and quick-witted, always ready to challenge the status quo. We also feel deeply attached to our former childhood selves — mourning the loss of AIM and all the many Tamagotchis we forgot to feed. So let’s take a moment to relive some of our greatest exploits and shady dealings before high speed internet on our phones ruined everything:
1. Stalking Someone On AIM
The granddaddy of Gchat and Facebook messenger, AIM was the ubiquitous messaging program of our generation and the most important social tool of the '90s. AIM made your classmates and friends easy to stalk. You could always see when they were online, and simply read their away messages to see what they were up to when they weren't. Knowing that at 5:30 p.m. your crush was “homework now, brb,” made them seem infinitely more accessible — all you had to do was message them.
Sometimes signing into your AOL Instant Messenger felt like Christmas morning; your excitement mounting as you waited to see who would be in the chatroom. For optimal stalking, you could change the sound notification from the usual door opening/closing to another sound affect to alert you to when your crush signed online. That little sound could make your heart jump for joy or sink in an instant.
2. Setting Up A Ridiculous Email Address
While your AIM screenname defined you, your email address was a chance for creativity. There was no better way to mess with people than to set up the most ridiculous, silly, gross username imaginable. Sometimes (most of the time) you used combinations of numbers or phrases that you didn’t fully understand — besides the fact that you knew they would make you look like a badass. Whether you ended your word combo with 69 or 666, you were making a statement, and your friends thought it was hilarious.
Reddit users weighed in with some of their favorite embarrassing emails from the ‘90s, and the entire thread is amazing. It includes such gems as, "pootoilet123@hotmail," "slackerboy666@hotmail," "chillin_like_a_villain13@hotmail," and "assbutt@hotmail." It is refreshing to remember a time when you were only as clever as your last email address and nobody actually used their real name.
3. Asking Everyone In The Chatroom For Their A/S/L
When starting a conversation with a stranger in a chatroom, eventually someone would ask for A/S/L, the internet slang for Age/Sex/Location. Of course, you never actually intended to meet this person, so you would totally lie.
I often pretended to be way older and the opposite gender. My friends and I would try to make up the most silly responses possible and see if our chat partner would believe us. We were usually either 19/Female/Alaska with flowing blond hair, or 16/Male/California and captain of the made up football team. We could chat up strangers and ask A/S/L until we found one that interested us. And of course, nobody would ever admit to being over 30.
4. Sneaking Into R-rated Movies
Movie theaters in the '90s seemed a lot more chill back in the day. Mostly managed by bored college students, the security and supervision was lax overall. We never worried about buying R-rated or PG-13 movie tickets ‘cause we knew we could just sneak in. The scam was to call the hotline for the nearby theater and listen to the movie times. Your mission was to find a kids movie that would end just as the movie you actually wanted to see was starting. You watch the kids movie and then sneak in a few minutes late, once the lights went down, for the R-rated movie. It was a sneaky trick, but how else were you supposed to see The Matrix on the big screen? Yay Double feature!
5. Undressing All Your Barbies And Ken Dolls
It wasn’t weird or anything, you just wanted to see how realistic their plastic bodies were anatomically-speaking! The answer: not at all.
6. Watching Quality Late-Night Programming
If you stayed up past your bedtime, you could often catch some of Real Sex or Sex In The City. Both had sex in the title, so you knew your parents probably wouldn't approve. While the shows did answer some of your pre-pubescent questions about sex, they mostly left you even more confused and horrified (why does that grown man like to pretend he’s a baby??). If you stayed up even later, you could try to tune into Skinemax and watch the pixelated semi-nude people kiss. So yuck.
7. Copying Your Friend’s Homework
Sometimes you'd watch too much TV and not have time to complete your multiplication table sheet. Lucky for you, your studious friend had the answers. You just had to make sure that a few of yours were wrong, so the teacher wouldn’t catch on.
8. Trading All Your Lunch For Candy
Your mom or dad worked really hard to make you a tasty, healthy lunch. And while you are grateful for the effort, you would rather have Lunchables. Or candy. Or chips. You would trade that boring turkey sandwich for literally any junk food that you could get your hands on. A Fruit By The Foot may not be filling, but boy was it sweet!
Having “Cyber Sex”was a thing back in the ‘90s, and you were definitely curious about it. After lying about your age and looks, inevitably someone would ask if you wanted to have cyber sex. You and the group of friends probably gathered around the desktop would scream “Ew!” but would definitely accept the request just to see what would happen. Once in a separate chatroom with your new AIM buddy, you could send each other explicit messages. You did your best to describe what you believed were sexual fantasies — and made all your friends crack-up in the process.
10. Prank Calling Teachers
If your school published a class list of phone numbers, you had the tools needed to prank call every teacher and kid in your class. But with great power comes great responsibility. When everyone was gathered at your house for a sleepover, the question became, would you use the classic “Is your refrigerator running?” or would you try something more advanced, like mimicking the principal’s voice and calling your least favorite teacher to tell them that they are fired? Either was hilarious… as long as the recipient of your prank didn’t have caller ID.
11. Asking People To Join The Pen15 Club
Ah, the Pen15 club. The most exclusive club a kid could belong to, and yet all you needed to join was a marker and curiosity. Once you fell for the gag, you of course needed to ask all your friends if they wanted to join. They would eventually forgive you — as long as you didn't use a Sharpie.
12. Pretending To Be Sick On Test Days
Your tummy hurt every time you knew a quiz was coming up — like magic. Once your parents realized that the mysterious illness was just nerves, you'd actually have to study now and then. Ugh!
13. Performing A Dramatic Reading Of Your Older Sibling’s Diary Or Live Journal
Reading your sibling's diary taught you a lot. Mostly that they were super sensitive babies. But what was with all that stuff about James Van Der Beek? Even you know that a Dawson's Creek obsession of that level is unhealthy.
14. Your Geographic Coordinates Were Always Blurry
Before GPS, tracking, and smartphones, if you were a good enough liar you could sneak around and go wherever you wanted. You could tell your parents that you were sleeping over at a friend's house and then get into all sorts of trouble. While today's youth may have Google and Cronuts, they will never have our freedom.