I despise fads.  I’m not saying I haven’t fallen victim to them.  I have.

I have worn bell bottoms, sported sideburns, purchased Cabbage Patch dolls for my daughters, and I’ve even danced the Macarena.

Fads give us memorable milestones by which to distinguish one decade from another or one era from the next.  For all the good they supposedly do, I still despise them because they can make you poor, they can make you lose your friends, they can make you look stupid, and some can even be hazardous to your health.

How do they make you poor?  Just ask the husband who many years back bought his wife a $1,200 curio cabinet in which to display her $2,000 worth of Beanie Babies which, today, now bring about 50 cents each at a yard sale. 

Fads make you lose your friends.

“Hey, Langden,” Cool Kyle said to me in the cafeteria back in the fourth grade.  “We’re all sportin’ our “Keep on Truckin’” T-shirts tomorrow.  You in?”

“Uh, I don’t have a “Keep on Truckin’ T-shirt,” I said sheepishly.

“You don’t?”

Cool Kyle and the other groovy kids laughed.

“I’ve got a J.J. Walker “Dy-no-mite” T-shirt.  Will that do?”

“Now way,” Cool Kyle smirked.  “Sorry man, but you ain’t sittin’ with us at the cool table tomorrow.”

I lost good, wholesome friends that fateful day when I discovered I wasn’t keeping up with the present fad.  A mere lack of a “Keep on Truckin’” T-shirt severed my ties with the cool table for the rest of my middle school years.

(Note:  I should mention here that Cool Kyle and a couple of the other cool table members were later charged with shoplifting pink Izod Lacoste shirts from Miller and Rhodes back in the Preppy 70’s which, I’m sure at the time, was a real cool thing to do.)

Fads can make you look stupid.  I won’t spend too much time on this fact.  Just look at your high school year book.  Pretty ridiculous, huh?

Last, but not least, fads can be hazardous to your health.  Remember Clackers back in the 70’s?  They were those ridiculously engineered oversized marbles attached to each end of an entirely too thin piece of string.  The object of this fad was to hold the string in the middle and swing your hand back and forth so quickly that the marbles struck together, bounced back, and struck together again.  Before you knew it, you had two large marbles striking and whirling close to the speed of light less than a foot from your head.  What a cool toy and what a cool trip to the emergency room when the string broke and the marble struck its operator in the forehead.  Even after the reports of facial stitches, every kid still had to have Clackers.  Its inventor initially made a couple million dollars, got sued for a few million more, and then Clackers were banned.  So ended another short-lived fad.

The last few decades have brought about many strange ideas ranging from body piercing to bungee jumping.  My favorite is kids wearing jeans five times too big.  These fashion-minded youngsters say they are making a statement about their individuality when their pants are falling down around their knees.  Personally, the statement I’m hearing is:  “Hey, look at me everybody.  I’m so stupid I can’t even buy jeans that fit me.”

Presently, there is a fad that is about as dumb as any fad that has ever hit the scene.  I call it the freezing-my-butt-off-to-look-cool fad. 

The freezing-my-butt-off-to-look-cool fad is performed by kids waiting for the school bus to arrive.  To become a member of the freeze-your-butt-off-to-look-cool club, you first watch the local weather report and make sure it is 40 or less degrees Fahrenheit outside.  If it is, then pull on your sneakers, your short-sleeved Metallica T-shirt, and some jeans that are five times too big for you, grab your book bag, and leave your nice warm coat on the floor in your bedroom.

Proceed into the outdoors where you can see your breath in the air and goose bumps on your arms.  Ignore your chattering teeth and walk to the spot at the end of the driveway where you wait for the school bus.

As hypothermia sets in, you might start thinking about that warm coat on the floor in your bedroom.  Ignore that thought.  It would ruin your social standing.  What would happen if that girl or boy you like on the school bus sees you waiting outside wearing a coat?  How embarrassing would that be?  Only wimps wear coats.  Cool kids wear T-shirts. 

Yeah, you’re going to look cool alright.  Your wet hair will be frozen, your lips will be blue and you’ll look a lot like Leonardo Dicaprio hanging onto that floating door in “Titanic.”

What am I missing?  At first, I was concerned that these short-sleeved Popsicle kids were in need of a winter coat.  That was until I saw those so-called unfortunate urchins with their backpacks over one shoulder and their $125 L.L. Bean winter coats flung over the other.  I wanted to pull over and say “Hey, dummy.  Here’s an idea:  Put your coat on and you might stop shivering.”

I say let the global warming begin.  At least the next generation will be dressed for it.

I will never understand our youth’s infatuation with freezing in short sleeves while waiting for the school bus, but it is as obvious today as it was in the past:  Trying to be cool by following fads will ultimately leave you standing out in the cold.  

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