When I was a teen in the 60s, these were “things”: madras purses too small for two Kleenexes; Izod crocodiles on breast pockets; fluorescent-haired troll dolls; hip hugger jeans, white gym shoes with tan-colored stockings (held by thigh-grinding garter belts); shocking pink paired with lime green; Bob Dylan.
I embraced these things in hopes that some day I would sit at the cool kids’ table, but I never thought about how these things became “things.”
When I was a middle school teacher, I was forever trying to puzzle out how adolescent things became “things.” Trousers that sagged and revealed underwear; Gothic black; frayed, holey jeans; UGGs and Crocs, Avril Lavigne.
And here I am in my very adult life, still wondering, “How in the heck did this become a thing?”
Here are a dozen modern day “things.”
1. How did small bites in expensive restaurants become a thing? I don’t recall any time in my life saying, “Let’s get dressed up—I’ll even put on a bra–and go spend a lot of money on a little bit of food so I’ll be hungry enough to come home and eat my leftover meatloaf?
2. Milk variety has somehow become a “thing.” Milk is something that comes from the nipples of mammals, right? So how did all these other fluids get to be named “milk”? Almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk, milk from expressed from soybean teats? I don’t know how this became a thing.
3. Women’s bare legs? How did this become a thing? Women dressed in power suits, teetering on four-inch heels, with their naked, chalky legs, even in winter. All legs can be improved with a natural hued pair of stockings. They give a polished look; in other words, you can’t tell if you’ve shaved recently.
4. So how did this become a thing? Cars with push button starts. When did it become bothersome to put a key in the ignition? “It’s been a rough day at the office. Thank goodness I don’t have to turn a key!” Is it a matter of, if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway?
5. So how did toilet paper advertising become a thing? Who knew there were so many choices? Scented paper. Moist paper. Toilet paper on huge rolls, so you don’t have to replace it as often (maybe a good thing that could save marriages). Paper embossed with fleur di li to get into cracks and crevices, toilet tissue that really cleans, if you are to believe the little bear family promoting them. You could wear your underwear a second day, they claim, but of course who would do that? You could go commando—be a bare bear—which must be on someone’s bucket list. Here’s the thing: I don’t want to think about your bum and I bet you don’t want to think about mine. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
6. Granite! When did this become a thing? Why does everyone have to have granite countertops nowadays? I can’t think of a single time in six decades of Formica, thinking, oh how I long for a more expensive, heavier, block of rock on my counters in a choice of 82 shades of speckled beige.
7. We all know how seasonably inappropriate sleeveless dresses became a thing: when Michelle Obama appeared at the State of the Union address, in January, arms bared. The Republicans were apoplectic, and I admit it took my breath away. This will not end well, I thought, and within days each female broadcaster was exposing her arms, purging fleshy women of a certain age from the talent pool. There are shawls and shrugs and bolero jackets and long sleeves for a reason, people.
8. When did that pose that female millennials strike on Facebook become a thing? Hand on hip, chest thrust out, legs crossed to minimize the width of the hips? (My younger daughter calls it the “broken teapot pose) Might as well don bunny ears and tail! I thought we had “come a long way, Baby.”
9. Therapists on demand by text or phone, how did that become a thing? You’ve seen the commercial, right? A fit woman hiking to a mountain peak, and the voice-over assures you that you can call your therapist anytime, anywhere to get advice. Isn’t that what we used to call “best friends”? Is the commercial implying that the hiker needs an emotional tune up before approaching a steep ledge?
10. How did visible zippers on clothes become a thing? Preposterous! What’s next? Visible bra straps? Oh, yeah. Already a thing.
11. How did doggy-as-consumer become a thing? In TJMaxx there are two aisles devoted to Halloween costumes, hair ribbons, pedicure sets, vibrators, Barkarita mix, and curling irons for dogs while all of the clothes in my size are hanging on a nail on the restroom door.
12. Remember when a refreshing glass of water tasted like, well, nothing? When thirst-quenching was the only thing you expected from H2O? How did lemon in water become a thing?
I guess there will always be things that are “things.” How else will we sort people: who’s in and who’s out; who’s rising and who’s setting; who’s a leader and who’s a joiner; who’s a winner and who’s a loser? First world considerations.
“All human societies go through fads in which they temporarily either adopt practices of little use or else abandon practices of considerable use.”~ Jared Diamond
What “things” have you scratching your head? Can’t wait to hear.