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Sitting at my desk in the office, I’m surrounded.

Not just by friendly, youthful faces (mostly), scattered papers, yellow Post-it notes and a blue hula hoop. I’m also bombarded by the cherubic face of Punky Brewster with her trademark sunburst berets, her pigtails, her mismatched raiment and precocious semi-smile. There’s a box set of Sly and the Family Stone that I never listen to. And, of course, my most prized possession is there keeping me company: my New Kids on the Block picture and bio book (unauthorized) given to me by my girlfriend for Easter (despite my being a secular Jew; it’s the thought that counts).

So, the real question I’ve begun asking myself is the primal one. Why?

“I think people are just nostalgic from their youth,” said Joan Jones, co-owner of Pearl Street’s Goldmine Vintage. Along with some pretty killer wares, Jones and her partner also sell everything from Garbage Pail Kids stickers to jewelry and charm bracelets from the 80s, slap bracelets from the 90s and ancillary merchandise from Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.”

“People come in and see something from their youth,” said Jones, “and they start thinking about that time from their childhood. It’s more than just a toy. They associate it with other memories they have that they might have forgotten about.”

In a chaotic universe of such conflict and ambiguity, where the world might be ending on Saturday ( which time zone is the big question there), where we’re all running out of natural resources and money, perhaps we need these mementos to keep us calm and collected. It’s a way to keep things in perspective, to not let go of that childish whimsy that keeps us so inquisitive and passionate.

I don’t know if I’d want to hang out with someone who doesn’t know about “You Can’t Do That on Television.” I mean, what would we have to talk about?

If I’m sitting there saying, “Cut… it… out” (a la Dave Coulier on “Full House” and “Out of Control”) and the person looks at me like the chagrined chick in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” — “Is this a joke or something?” — I’ll know that it’s best if I just leave him or her alone.

It’s about who you are, where you’re coming from, what you’ve done in the past, the kind of person you are. I’ll never forget hanging with a former managing editor at a bar with some friends in LA and when we began reminiscing about our old pals Zack, Kelly, Slater, Screech and the gang, said editor turned to us drunkenly and spurted out, “Are you guys talking about ‘Save the Bell’?!”

We chuckled and remembered all at once that as Valley Girl as she was, the editor was still raised in Tokyo.

In “High Fidelity,” John Cusack was right: “These things are important.” I could date someone who doesn’t remember “The Wonder Years,” but could I marry that person, share my life with her?

I guess it would all depend on whom she prefers: Jem, Rainbow Brite or the Care Bears. After all, I gotta know what kind of fantasies we could explore once our sex life got to be inevitably stale. Of course, if she were to say, “What about Lizzie McGuire?” I’d know I found a keeper.

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