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Chuck Brooks' column: Tracking teen fashion trends, then and now

I’m not sure how many of you know or remember this, but over 20 years ago, I wrote a regular column, much like this one, for another local newspaper. Same material, different newspaper. Of course, 20-plus years ago, my perspective was vastly different and, more obviously, it was a different time.

I wrote two separate columns back then regarding several current trends. In one column, I spoke of how guys in high school were beginning to wear earrings. I polled my classes, asking them how they felt about the new addition to the male look. In another column, I satirically looked at the onset of pagers and baggy, drooping pants. Both were met with interesting reactions.

Jump ahead 20-some years and let’s revisit those topics, shall we?

Let’s begin with the pants issue. I have to tell you, nothing was more annoying to most of us in the adult world than the pants dropping way below the horizon. However, we had little power over the growing-in-popularity clothing style. I am happy today, however, to tell you, like the ocean ebbs, the trend seems to be heading in the same direction. I’m almost afraid of jinxing ourselves by saying anymore, so I’m happy to report that one topic no longer seems to be much of an issue.

Next up, the pager. Remember the pager? Everyone had to have a pager. None of us quite understood the need at the teenage level for a pager. I get it was a new piece of technology and consequently, a new toy, but really. A pager? Are you so important, we thought, that you have to have a pager? Dear God. Little did we know it was the prelude to something bigger and far more intrusive in our society, say nothing about the classroom. I’ve not said much here about the cell phone, but you can probably imagine what a pain in causes in the posterior of the educator.

When parents would have to reach their kids, they once called the office and the office ran the note to the classroom. Now, it’s not quite so subtle. Understand, many parents still side-step the cell phone. However, many don’t. When a student has phone in hand and the teacher says, “Put it away,” the response is, too often, “It’s my mom. She needs to tell me something.” How do we fight that? The policy is no cell phone usage in the classroom unless, and this is a new appendage to the policy, the student is doing research via the phone. I laugh as I watch the kids who believe they are cunning and deceptive. I roll my eyes when I see them trying desperately to hide their phone once they realize they’ve been discovered. Many will quickly slip it under a leg or butt cheek. I ask them to stand up. Their reaction is priceless, and they realize they’re busted. The text is fresh on the screen yet. Seriously, folks, the cell phone has been our biggest enemy in the classroom.

The third item, earrings for boys. I come from a conservative family. I was raised in a conservative community during a conservative time. However, I remember when this fad began to take hold, I had to admit I thought it was kind of cool. Different, certainly, but cool. However, the reaction by the teen set was all over the place. Mind you, it was merely a simple piercing and in most cases, a simple stud of an earring. Dare I share what I’ve seen recently? As I said, I thought the pierced ear was kind of cool. However, then it was one piercing in each ear. That evolved into numerous piercings all over each individual ear! It was an entire jewelry store in each ear! Then there’s this ear lobe thing. I say “thing” because I don’t know what the “technical” word for it is, but let me tell you. The ear lobes that have the huge circles stretching out the earlobe larger and longer … well, they defy description. I can’t for the life of me figure out how they even get that to happen. And what happens when they’re 40 and they say, “I don’t think I want these anymore.” Unlike a tattoo which can remain hidden, you’re walking around with these ear lobes that could be used for a bean bag toss at a family function. Shudders, I tell ya. Shudders.

And so there’s this week’s indication that I’m growing older and my view of life is growing ever narrower. If you’re over 40, you know what I mean when I say I’m sounding more like my parents each and every day. And they’re looking down at me and simply laughing, telling each other, “We told him this would happen some day.”

And so they did.