As the 80’s kicked off, the hottest game to start the decade was the confounding Rubik’s Cube. This launched a whole new trend of puzzle games including a pyramid version of Rubik’s cube, a snake cube that was really just used for making cool shapes, and this little puzzle known as The Missing Link. The goal of this particular game was simply to end up with links of the same color on each of its sides by twisting it and sliding the pieces around. As puzzle games go, this one wasn’t terribly difficult, but I think that’s what made it fun. Rather than feeling like a complete idiot, you could at least enjoy the little triumph of completing it. I remember having an entire collection of little puzzles like these in the early ’80s but they all ended up in a box somewhere by the middle of the decade when the first Nintendo game system was released.  Well, that and a shiny new driver’s license that meant I had officially become the most puzzling thing of all. A teenager in the ’80s.

I’d love to say here that I was one of the “popular kids” with the pink sweater around his neck, penny loafers, a swatch watch, and a closet full of Lacoste. But I can’t. We didn’t have the money for such luxuries, so the best I could muster were some secondhand white washed jeans and a Members Only jacket. Though I still wasn’t sure what club I was actually a member of while wearing it. I’m not sure in the end I developed much of a true ’80s fashion style, but when it came to fitting in anyway, I could usually make that work. Perhaps all those years of playing problem-solving puzzles helped shape my brain in a way that prepared me for attempting to pass myself off as someone who belonged in that decade. But I never really felt like I fit in. You had the popular guys, the jocks, skaters, losers, outcasts, and even rappers. I was a nerd who didn’t quite look the part and was left cast in the worst role an ’80s high school kid could be in – uncategorizable.

Rather than feeling too upset by the situation, I figured this must mean that I should have access to any and all cliques that existed. So you’d find me at a pool party one evening and the next, I might be watching my skater friend pull off road tricks. Then I’d join my best friend for a game of tennis before heading to get my geek on in the arcade. This all suited me perfectly as had I ever been classified, I would have had to commit to enjoying the same things all the time. And that sounded dreadfully dull. It wasn’t always easy and more times than not, I’d end up feeling a bit outside of the cliques that formed. Or sometimes, I might become the life of the party, the missing link, for a group that had grown tired of too many rules and needed somebody to shake things up a bit. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure what to think of those high school years. One thing, however, I can say with absolute certainty as I think back to those times is that the ’80s were just rather puzzling.

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About the Doodlewash

Mission Gold Watercolors: Permanent Yellow Light, Permanent Red, Viridian, Peacock Blue. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 29 - #WorldWatercolorGroup The Missing Link Puzzle Game 80s Were Puzzling
Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

28 replies on “The ’80s Were Puzzling

  1. Ha, I Wouldn’t peg you for a nerd 🙂 but I feel ya; I kept my head in books but I can say that I ha-t-e –ha-t-e the rubic cube to this day! LOL I must not be that smart because that thing drives me crazy…I think I gave my kid like 3 of them and even they just tossed it aside LOL…I love reading your post; they take us to a much better place 🙂

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  2. high school is a difficult time for most. I didn’t fit into any of those molds either….. but hey – look how great you turned out! Heck – look how great BOTH of us turned out! LOL! 🙂

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  3. I think teenage years are puzzling for most of the folks who struggle through, trying to figure out who they are, where they belong, and why it matters. Highly emotionally charged, minimally logical, but often the founding circumstances of who they become. I’m grateful that I’m still learning – though not how to master those puzzles. They all confounded me. Great painting, Charlie, but it doesn’t really capture the angst, does it? Still, you do remember.

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  4. The 80’s were fun for me. My mom bought me a horse, and that was the most exciting time of the 80’s. Then it all came crashing down. It was my 15th birthday, and me and my cousins went riding. I told them to lets run, and we did until a tuck turned down the road, and that’s about all I remember. My horse sunk in dirt and threw me into a pine tree head first. I woke up 2 mos later and I looked like a little boy. Kids are cruel. I can say I survived the 80’s, and life goes on.

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  5. Ooh, this looks like some classic frustrating fun! I’ve don’t think I’ve seen this game before. I know for sure that I never got my head around the Rubik’s cube – grr! I was unfortunate enough to miss the 80s by a couple of years, but with my taste in music I’ve been told that I likely was there, as a disco ball. 😛 Probably the best place to be!

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  6. I don’t remember seeing this puzzle, Charlie… maybe it didn’t reach my part of the UK. The Rubik’s Cub did – and I was hopeless at that.
    One thing though, I never fit in in High School either (I don’t think I fit in now, truth be told!), but why do what everyone else is doing when you can be the best YOU that you are? We’re all individuals – we have to make ourselves stand out. I didn’t do that back in school, but I’m doing my own thing now. As are you. Keep on keeping on! 😀

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    1. Thanks so much, Tom for those wonderfully positive words! 😃💕 Yes! We are totally doing our own thing and making the most of it! hehe… love that… it’s WAY more fun that way. As for this puzzle… yeah… I’ve no idea how popular it became so wasn’t sure many people would recognize it. hehe… but it was so much less infuriating than that darn cube! lol

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  7. I turned 45 last summer and over the past couple years I’ve been reminiscing about the 80s quite a bit. Although they never really died in my house as far as music goes, still have my hundreds of cassettes and with the vinyl craze have been collecting quite a bit (very happy with my 12 Devi albums!). I think I was probably a bit like you, wasn’t the coolest kid but I somehow was able to “chameleon” my way through school until finally in high school I found my calling. Which was punk rock, living in West Virginia at the time there wasn’t very many in that scene, then we moved outside of Orlando my senior year, best move ever! I didn’t want to go but once I was there I couldn’t be happier! Thanks for your post, love to hear stories of other people’s 80s adventures! I’ve been planning on posting some stories myself, keep a look out!

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    1. Thanks so much! 💕 What a fabulous story! Love hearing that! And sounds like we’re the exact same age as well! (okay… I’m just a few months older…hehe). The 80’s were definitely a definitive moment in history. For some reasons even the 70’s and 90’s seemed to lack that undeniable signature. Glad to know you were a chameleon as well… I think that was honestly the best way to get through the 80’s! 😉

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