The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce held its annual Chairman’s Gala on Jan. 26 and it featured a Totally ’80s theme. Oh man, that was fun! It brought back some really wonderful memories.
It reminded me of my days in junior high in the late 1970s and high school in the early 1980s whenever we had the inevitable ’50s day or ’50s dance. Our teachers used to say they didn’t remember the ’50s looking anything like our interpretations. I think that’s because for those of us born in the ’60s, our only link to the ’50s was “Happy Days” and “Grease.”
I recall talking to friends at a ’50s dance in high school and commenting about how someday our kids would be having ’80s dances in school. Well, here we are 30-some years later and they are. I have to agree with my teachers. I don’t remember the ’80s looking anything like their interpretations. I was more impressed, however, with the ’80s party hosted by the Fort Bend Chamber. I think that’s because most of us in attendance lived through the ’80s and knew how to dress.
In the days leading up to the gala, Sandy and I were trying to figure out what to wear. I brought out my old high school yearbooks to get a reminder of how we really looked back then. Blue jeans and T-shirts. I guess some things never change. That’s how I’ve always dressed.
As I thumbed through the yearbooks I kept saying, “I still have that shirt.” I do. I’m either a sappy sentimentalist or the world’s most stubborn packrat. I dug out a bunch of those old T-shirts and football jerseys. They were still in good shape, but I’m not. Those old clothes aren’t anywhere near my size now. So much for going with an authentic look.
Figuring that a lot of people would be coming dressed as punk rockers or wearing animal print spandex, leg warmers, or parachute pants, I thought I’d go for an oft-neglected look from the ’80s – preppy. I knew that would be an easy one to pull off. All I’d need to do is turn up the collar on my polo shirt and drape a hoodie over my shoulders with the sleeves knotted together up front.
Since I didn’t have pastel colors and the proper jewelry and my hair wasn’t long and feathered back, I think I came across more like a bum than a preppy, but hey, the spirit was there. From what I could see I think I’m the only one who attempted the preppy look. Given that I used to make fun of preppies in high school and my abysmal failure to duplicate the look at the gala, I’ll be content to let that fashion trend rest in peace, never to be resurrected again.
The event itself was a blast. Everything from arriving at the Texas Safari Ranch and finding the DeLorean on display up front to dancing to music by the popular ’80s cover band The Spazmatics, the gala was a totally gnarly trip down memory lane. I think the biggest surprise of the evening was seeing U.S. Rep. Pete Olson and his entourage dressed in black and wearing the iconic, red energy dome hats made famous (or infamous) by the band Devo. They stood out in a big way and seemed to be having the most fun.
Kudos to everyone at the chamber who made this event such a huge success. The committee that put it together and handled the decorations and other details deserve a big round of applause. I’d also like to congratulate those who were honored at the event. The Community Spirit Award went to Tom Webb of HCSS. The Chairman’s Award was presented to the Fort Bend Chamber’s favorite “citizen,” Mary Favre.
Also recognized by immediate past chair Sterling Carter of Sterling Physical Therapy and Wellness were immediate past chairman Mike Dobert of HR in Alignment; retiring board members Monroe Ashworth of Stewart Title, Nona Austin-King of Himalaya, Rick Conley of Fluor, Christina Hawkins of GlobalSpex, Mark Kolon of Audi of Sugar Land, Barkley Peschel of Colliers, Jonathan Pursch of Frost Bank, and Chip Sutton of Linebarger Law Firm; and retiring division chairs Vern Hegwood of Costello, and Randall Malik, formerly of the Rosenberg Economic Development Corporation.
Carter also recognized incoming Chairman Malisha Patel of Memorial Hermann Hospital Southwest and executive officers Chair Elect Rehan Alimohammad of Wong Fleming, Treasurer Benjamin Swan of Svane Capital, Legal Counsel Dustin Fessler of Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey, PC, and President and CEO Keri Schmidt, along with the 2018 board of directors, committee and division chairs.
Once the acknowledgements and formalities were done, guests moved from the dining room to the dessert room and dance floor. I’ve seen The Spazmatics in concert a few times and I really like their music. They dress like they walked out of the 1984 movie “Revenge of the Nerds,” which is part of their shtick. They put on a very physical, high-energy show that is always very entertaining.
As Sandy and I were pondering our ’80s garb, she wanted to watch “Sixteen Candles.” I was thinking more along the lines of “Fast Times at Ridgmont High.” We ended up watching “Dirty Dancing,” which was made in the ’80s but set in the ’60s.
I think the best part of the gala for me (besides spending an evening out with my beautiful wife) was the trip down memory lane. The ’80s for me began with high school, getting my driver’s license and first car (’69 Dodge Polara), earning my Eagle Scout rank, playing four sports in high school (football, swimming, track, and intramural bowling), graduating and going to college. Along the way were milestones such as Prom, first kiss, first date, first job, first time to vote, and so on. In the middle came college, followed by graduation, first marriage, and first cross-country moves.
Those were adventurous and exciting times. What’s interesting to think about is how my children’s children will one day have early 2000s parties and try to dress like kids do today. I’ll be getting a good laugh out of it as I push my walker around the nursing home dressed in blue jeans and a T-shirt and wishing it were the ’80s again. All I’ll need to do is figure out where they parked that DeLorean.