Falling Monkeys

I think every parent probably thinks that the cultural stew their impressionable kids are simmered in is stranger, more dangerous, or just more ridiculous than the popular culture of their own childhood. At least I do. When I’m not lamenting the lost world of my own youth (strange and flawed as it was), I especially like to grouse about the world my kids have inherited. So here are just a few trivial things about life in America in the 21st century that just vex the snot out of me:

1. Pseudo celebrities – A few weeks ago, I couldn’t turn on the TV or computer without being inundated with images of a bimbo sporting heavy make-up and an enormous pair of boobs that always appeared to be on the verge of bursting out of a low-cut dress or skimpy bikini. Her name was vaguely familiar but it didn’t seem to be associated with any talent, skill, ability, or accomplishment that I could remember. But that’s not unusual for me. I can hack my way through the jungle of American pop culture daily without ever noticing the monkeys in the trees unless one happens to fall on me.

So finally, after being virtually haunted the busty bimbo, I did what I usually do when I notice a monkey. I asked my partner.  “Who in the hell,” I asked, “is Kim Kardashian?” So she told me. Wow. I guess once Hollywood had to come up with programming for a gazillion cable channels, we had to expect some erosion of quality. But the Kardashian thing was a little tough to take. (And I was still recovering from watching The Jersey Shore satirized on Bones and finding out they were making fun of a real show. That people watch. On purpose.)

Only Elton John could pull these off.

2. Sagging pants – I’ve seen some strange “fashion” fads in my time that made the people who succumbed to them look pretty silly – pastel polyester leisure suits, leg warmers, platform shoes, any clothing that has been “pre-stressed,” the Don-Johnson-in-Miami-Vice-look, shoulder pads under anything except a football jersey, fingerless gloves (unless you’re a weight lifter or Madonna in the eighties), rainbow suspenders (unless you’re Mork from Ork), jeans so tight they make legs look like sausages, powered wigs. (Okay I missed that one by a couple hundred years, but how weird was that?)

But none of them quite compare to this vaguely obscene and ridiculous habit some young people adopted of wearing their britches around their thighs leaving their butt hanging out. It’s like a practical joke so transparent, so obviously ridiculous, that even the most gullible among us, our teenagers, would know better. Sadly, a lot of them didn’t (and still don’t), our oldest son among them.

3. Planking – Somehow, when I was a kid, sitting around with my friends on a long summer day trying to decide what to do, not one of all the kids I hung out with, no matter how bored we might be, ever stood up and said, “Hey, I know! Let’s each find an odd place to lie face down with our hands at our sides and then have someone take a picture and show it to complete strangers!” Not once. And if some kid had suggested it, I like to think the rest of us would have had the good sense to laugh at the idiot, climb on our bikes, and go find something fun to do.

English: Planking

So there’s my top three, or at least my top three, today. So what do you think? What about the culture of your kids’ (or your friends’ kids or your grandkids’) generation makes you want to stick a fork in your eye? Go ahead and vent a little, get it off your chest, preach it to the choir. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic. And I’ll be reading, ready and likely to agree.

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  1. Catherine

     /  February 21, 2012

    Hey girl, I LOVE my finger-less gloves! I’ve been wearing them for the last many winters. They keep my wrists/arms cozy and warm but still able to type, and manipulate with my fingers! Thanks, tho, for the education about planking, which I must confess looks kind of interesting to me too. If I were that age, I probably would be leading the charge. WOW it’s funny to think about, I like some stuff you don’t. But I do not know about Kardas…n and I think I don’t want to find out. (We don’t have TV.) Thanks for your writing as usual, friend!

    • Hi Catherine! I just found your comment in the spam thingy (which I forget to check for weeks at a time). I think you are definitely an exception to the fingerless gloves rule and any other rule you choose to break. I always thought your personal style was charming and cool. (Besides, you have a pragmatic use for the gloves which trumps style.) Sometimes I wish we could get rid of our TVs but I think the boys would implode emotionally. We’re thinking about turning off the cable completely though. (They can keep their TV for video games and movies.)

  2. S Foy

     /  February 21, 2012

    Fabulous list! I have to admit to getting a few chuckles out of the whole planking fad. It was just so stupid it made me laugh!
    I don’t have children. I’d like to think that if I did I would be an open minded parent. If my kid wanted to dress like Elvis, line his eyes with jet black liner and have blue spikes for hair I hope that my only reaction would be to take a lot of pictures as evidence to be used at a later date. 🙂
    I would have to draw the line at facial piercings. Why, why do kids feel the need to mutilate their faces! Some have so many that they look like human pin cushions. Even worse are the disks that are put into pierced ears. They increase in size until the ear lobe has a hole in it the size of a dinner plate. I’ve heard that you need plastic surgery to fix the damage. It’s just gross! This is a fad that I will never understand.

  3. this is a great list but I’m going to have to object to #2 – I’m 31 years old and when I was in 5th grade, the boys started wearing their pants like that. I remember because my teacher made a huge deal about it. And I remember my whole life saying “that looks so stupid, but it will go out of style soon. It’s been around since I was in 5th grade.” Once when I was about 24 I was walking up a very steep hill and a young man was swaggering with great attitude down the same hill toward me when his low-riding pants fell down to his ankles and he fell on his face. It remains one of the funniest moments of my entire life. (I live in Greece now and the planking fad hasn’t made it here yet thank goodness! Or the pants actually, here they tend to go for the form-fitting pants, but they definitely have their fair share of talentless vapid celebrity debutantes).

  4. Great story, Heidi! Years ago, when I dropped our oldest son off at school, I used to watch him walk away trying to look cool while holding up his britches, and wish the same thing would happen to him. I always thought he was just good one public humiliation away from pulling up his pants for good. But alas, it didn’t happen.

  5. Hi Shannon! We took the boys for a hike a few months ago and they introduced me to “owling.” Same principle as planking except you squat with your arms at your sides and your eyes wide. I have several pictures of middle son owling in trees and on big rocks that day and he’s actually pretty cute. I definitely agree about the facial piercings. Eyebrows, lips and such aren’t meant for piercing. That’s why they don’t look like ear lobes. And ear lobes aren’t meant for dinner plates. (Didn’t I see that in a National Geographic sometime? Will have to look it up.)

  6. hahaha, Don Johnson look and everything with shoulder pads. 😉 hey, you missed the technicolor outfit of the 80s, dear. and the shaggy hair with half a liter spray net… 🙂


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