If you grew up in the 1980s/early 1990s—and I hope you had the good fortune to do so—you know that the Zack Morris Cell Phone, despite its derogatory Urban Dictionary definition, ultimately represents cool. Like its owner, the Zack Morris Cell Phone was something that all of us wanted, or wanted to be—cutting-edge, mature, independent, slick, and clever. To this day, I regard the Zack Morris Cell Phone as the most desirable phone of all time. You can keep your iPhone, because I don’t care how many “apps” you have, your phone will never wordlessly set you apart the way that Zack’s did.
Zack Morris was not only the star and hero of NBC’s “Saved by the Bell,” he also was the leading man of a golden age—a time when homework was done in cursive on paper, the NES was a sophisticated gaming system, girls wore Aqua Net, guys wore hideous rugby shirts, and parents just didn’t “understand.” Zack spoke his mind, but was still a polite and caring gentleman. Zack was clever and crafty, but generally used his powers for good. Zack had all the latest gadgets and gizmos, but still respected the simple and effective powers of a gentle smooch, to which the audience would “Woo!”
In other words, Zack Morris is my generation’s Jay Gatsby.
In this crazy, complicated, expensive, and wired world, it’s nice to reflect on Zack Morris and his cell phone. On Trapper Keepers and Lisa Frank notebooks. On silk shirts in teal, purple, and orange. In school lunches and the ladies who served them. On Commodore 64s, and later, on Mario, Zelda, and Mega Man. On awkward first kisses and even more painful phone conversations. On Cool Ranch Doritos and Crystal Pepsi. On perhaps not “the best years” of our lives, but certainly years worth revisiting.
I do hope you’ll join me as we pick up the Zack Morris Cell Phone and see what’s happening…