Dear Petty and Stupid,
You are not petty and stupid, but I have to ask you this question: You haven't lived in Hagerstown very long, have you?
If you had, you would know that trends arrive here five years late, but once they do, we tend to hang onto them about 20 years after the rest of the nation, with perhaps the exception of Cincinnati, has moved on.
For example, about five or six years ago, guys in Europe started wearing sports jackets over untucked shirttails. That one STILL hasn't gotten here yet, although most of the nation has since adopted and subsequently abandoned it.
But you still see signs around here for Calorad. Guys still greet each other with "wazzup?" or (what they assume to be an ultracool variation) "what up?"
And can we still say "Longaberger baskets?" You bet your Wonderbra.
So why should we expect our children to be any different? Just out of random curiosity, I've been asking a few teens lately what they think of podcasting. Most of them have never heard of it.
For the record, the rest of the nation's teens are back to the neat, preppy look that swept college campuses back in 1980. So you might or might not consider this an upgrade. Baggy pants, sweater tied (not nearly tight enough, in my view) around the neck, what's the difference?
For Hagerstown in general, however, this could be construed as good news, because if preppy is back now, can the leisure suit be far behind? For a few chaps I see on the street from time to time, this means they'll be right back in style.
This would also be good news for that second cousin of the leisure suit, the mullet. The mullet is to Hagerstown what blue jeans are to the rest of the nation. It came into style once upon a time and just never left the spotlight.
To outsiders who might be unfamiliar with it, the mullet is a hairstyle that's short in front, long in back. If you have been here for more than 10 minutes, you've seen one, I'm sure.
It's not always called a mullet. It also is referred to as the ape drape; Mississippi mud flap; Kentucky waterfall; Missouri compromise; yep-nope; Canadian passport; business in front, party in back; achy-breaky-big-mistakey; take your pick.
Whatever you call it, you will notice that we like it. It's sort of the official 'do of Hagerstown.
Most teens who pay attention to fashion would not be caught dead wearing a mullet, of course, which is curious. I refer to the last line of your message, which states in rather direct fashion that baggy pants look "ridiculous."
In teen fashion, this often is the point. Young Alexa just this week purchased a straw John Deere baseball cap for the express reason that it looked "ridiculous." It is one of the few points about which I did not argue with her.
Kids know that high underpants/low overpants look ridiculous and this is part of the appeal. It drives adults nuts, which is reason enough. In fact, I believe the only reason kids don't wear mullets is because adults do. If every adult cut his mullet, kids would be growing their hair long in back within weeks.
There is a lesson here. Anything you don't want your kids to wear, start wearing it yourself. If your child is still into the '90s hip-hop look, simply pull your underpants up around your chest level and start belting your pants around your kneecaps. Do this for about a week and I guarantee your kid will be wearing khakis and a turtleneck.
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached by calling 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by sending e-mail to email@example.com.