I'll tell you what it was like: there were tons of phone calls. On a landline. Everything took forever. If you made plans with a friend to meet up and one of you went to the wrong location, there was no way to connect with them. You both went back home and that was the end of it. It's not that life was easier or harder but communication and work were different. Gary Janetti's book captures this time with perfection and hilarity.
Some of the things that I enjoy most about Gary:
- His love of Broadway. He was obsessed with Patti Lupone at the time that she was starring in Evita on Broadway. He had tickets to see a matinee of Evita with his sister and when they arrived at the theater, he discovered that Patti's understudy was performing. There was no internet, no push notifications, no way of checking on this ahead of time. He was livid.
- His faithful viewing of the soap opera One Life to Live. I am familiar with 1980s era Llanview and characters of the show and hearing Gary relive running home from school to be able to watch OLTL was too much. He had to watch it in real time, because there was no VCR or DVR to record it.
- He turned down a job as a production assistant at One Life to Live because he wanted to be a head writer for the show and he wasn't offered an official writing position. When he was 19. Or some ridiculously young age. He then went on to work at a hotel.
- He worked at the front desk and later as a bellman at a New York City hotel where he took naps during his shifts. This time in his life is especially relatable for anyone who has been underemployed. It was virtually impossible to keep track of employees. No cell phones, no pagers, etc. He did not write anything during this time period.
- His honesty. He tells it like he sees it. He says what he means and he means what he says. He's not going to polite you to death.
Janetti is a writer and producer best known for Will & Grace and Family Guy. I suspect he is the real life inspiration for the character of Will Truman on Will and Grace. He's married to Brad Goretski, a celebrity fashion stylist, red carpet commentator and former co-host of Fashion Police.