Trends go back to the future around here

June 07, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Editor's Note: Tim Rowland is on vacation. The column was originally published Tuesday, May 9, 2006.

Wazzup with ridiculous trends coming here late?

Like every other ambitious, hard-driven professional who is critically pressed for time, I don't read the newspapers as much as I skim the content for key words that happen to grab my attention.

For example, if I see the words "stupid" and "petty" in close proximity, I will stop and read that particular item. These words are near and dear to my heart, because when I applied to be a newspaper columnist, they were part of the job description.

So anyhoo, last week I see this entry in the call-in commentary column:

"This might seem a little petty and stupid, but it seems like almost everybody wears the baggy pants, showing underwear off. It seems to me that trend should have been out, like, 10 years ago. Can't somebody start something new and get rid of all that baggy stuff? It looks ridiculous."


Permit me to respond, a la Ann Landers

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.

Children are following our lead

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.

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.

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

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