Hip To Be Square

January 28, 2005

I’m thinking about getting an earring. I know earrings on men have become passé, but that’s why I’m thinking about finally getting one. It just didn’t seem right to go along with the crowd when everyone was getting earrings, and by "everyone" I mean "a fairly large group of guys in the thirteen-to-twenty-five demographic". I remember when a couple of friends of mine went out and got earrings. Those were the days when a man wasn’t a man unless he bought jewelry for himself. Those friends of mine went into that little shop in the mall that sold bracelets and hair accessories boys but they came out men because a girl two years younger than they put a modified stapler to their earlobes so they could wear rhinestones. After they showed me their earrings my father quietly explained to me, in the same tone a bear uses to explain that it hasn’t eaten in four months and that you look like a berry-stuffed salmon, that by God I’d better not even think about getting one of those things as long as I lived under his roof. Even though roofs are expensive and sometimes hard to come by, especially when you’re seventeen, I didn’t think about getting an earring because I didn’t want one. Then earrings became unfashionable, but not in a good way. To really go with the crowd it was necessary to have at least fourteen earrings in one ear. From there it was a short leap to having everything pierced, and by "everything" I mean everything. Remember those heady days when the kid who flipped burgers in the fast food joint became a deadly weapon every time he sneezed? At the time I wondered where else the bodily modification fad could go.

Then one night I was watching a program about primitive ritualistic practices in places like Samoa, the Amazon, and Los Angeles, and I saw a guy with plastic nodules inserted under his skin. And I thought, So the next step is to look like aliens on Star Trek–the ones who basically look exactly like humans except for a few bumps on their foreheads, some funny ridges on their noses, or tattooed sideburns. I never imagined that the piercing fad would actually dry up. Now I assume all the holes in all the people who used to be into that grew back together; otherwise there’d be a lot of individuals who whistled when they walked. But I digress.

So why am I now thinking of getting an earring? Because there’s a school of thought that says it’s hip to be out of fashion. At least I assume it’s still hip. I’m actually not even sure whether hip is still groovy, whether groovy is still where it’s at, whether where it’s at is still with it, whether with it is still cool, whether cool is still tight, or whether tight is still hylomorphic. The problem with trying to be hip is it takes at least two people, and usually more, and always between the ages of eleven and twenty-five, to decide what hip is. The reason it’s called "hip" in the first place is because it’s a joint arrangement. But I digress. The one thing that concerns me is that fashions go in cycles. Maybe I’m not the only one who’s thinking about getting an earring. If I get one while a lot of other guys are out doing the same thing then my act of individual expression will mean I’ll end up looking like everyone else. And that’s just not cool.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


The Washington Post’s Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year’s winners:

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting lucky.

5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at! three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you’re eating.

And the pick of the literature:

18. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and a butt.

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