The Tide Pod Challenge

eatingI’ve been away from my desk for a couple of weeks, so by the time I became aware of the Tide Pod Challenge, it was over.  No great loss: I’m not a big fan of eating soap!  Luckily, though, I’m still in time to catch all the yipping about what makes “normal” people suddenly go nuts and do stupid things — like eating soap.  According to the pundits, there any number of reasons — ranging from subliminal advertising and our sorry education system to the usual suspect: Donald Trump.  However, the biggest bogeyman, by far, is Social Media, that vague one-size-fits-all villain that does everything but plug toilets and murder people.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

Let me set the record straight.  Like our canine cousins, people run in packs, and they’ve been doing it for at least 100 millennia: long before Mark Zuckerberg figured out that the Internet could be manipulated to meet Harvard girls.  Humans naturally have a group mentality.  Social media didn’t invent that; it just makes it easier.

All you have to do is look at fashion.

There is nothing more useless than the necktie, yet men have been trying to lynch themselves with it for centuries.  Actually, the necktie was born when gunpowder swept the neighbourhood in Europe.  French soldiers tied scarves around their necks so they could use the loose ends to wipe the soot out of their eyes after they fired their muskets.  Everyone loves a man in uniform, so tons of guys (who’d probably never even seen a battlefield) adopted the style to add a little swagger around the ladies.  Apparently, it worked.

I have no personal experience with high heels, but I’ve rubbed enough female feet in my time to know Mother Nature never intended women to elevate themselves this way.  Actually, high heels are nothing more than a celebrity fashion trend that went “viral” — before viral was even a word.  Originally, high heels were worn by men to grip the stirrups on horseback.  Makes sense.  However, rumour has it that Catherine de’ Medici got so tired of stepping out of her carriage into the slime that ran in the streets of 16th century Paris that, one afternoon, she borrowed a pair of her husband, Henry II’s, high-heeled boots.  The Medici girls were uber-trendy before the Kardashians ever thought about it, and high heels have been de rigueur in high society ever since.

And it goes on and on:

In the 1920s, women wrapped their breasts to simulate a flat chest (that’s gotta hurt) and, in the 40s, men wore trousers baggy enough to share with a friend.

A little closer to home, remember the ubiquitous fanny packs?  They were everywhere until we all discovered they were the international symbol for Steal My Stuff.

Crocs!  (I’m not going to say another word because I know most of us have a secret pair stashed away somewhere.)

My point is, wasting time blaming Social Media for people eating soap is as ridiculous as my wife and I cussing out the French every time we have to go to a formal dinner.  Why bother?  So instead of asking ourselves, “Why are so many people eating soap?” we should be seriously looking at why our society produces soap eaters, in the first place.

Women Get More Cool Stuff Than Men

cowgirlI am painfully aware that writing about gender in these troubled times is like being the goalie on a javelin team, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Stereotypes be damned!  The truth has to be told: women get way more cool stuff than men.  Yes, I realize there’s the whole punitive underwear problem and, beyond Barbie, toys for girls generally suck. But look around you: women have tons more fun with life than men do.  Why?  ‘Cause they get all the good stuff.  Here’s a selection of evidence to prove it.

Sleeves — Women get more sleeves than men.  There are bell sleeves, cap sleeves, raglan sleeves, lily-point sleeves, bishop sleeves etc., etc., etc.  In fact, according to one source, there are over 40 different sleeves available to women.  And what do men get?  Long sleeves and short sleeves!

Hats — Put a hat — any hat — on a woman and you’ve got instant sexy.  Put a hat on a man, and unless his name is Indiana Jones, Humphrey Bogart or Che Guevara, you’ve got a candidate for Geek Of The Week.

Colours — Women get all the colours.  Men get several shades of mud.  Don’t believe me?  How many men do you know who are climbing the corporate ladder in a 3-piece, electric-blue hounds-tooth suit with  ruby red shoes and matching belt?

Hair — Even Stephen Hawking can’t calculate the infinity plus one number of things women can do with their hair.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the chromosome patch, men have the faux hawk, the man bun and bald.

Shoes — I’m not even going to touch this one.

Stories — See a well-dressed woman dining alone in an expensive restaurant and there’s an elaborate story there somewhere.  See a well-dressed man dining alone in an expensive restaurant and … he just got dumped … like, 20 minutes ago.

And finally:

Girl’s Night Out — Girl’s Night can range from a drunken pub crawl through the streets of Maribor, Slovenia — where someone ends up with her panties in her purse — to Ramen Noodle Night with sweatpants, jasmine tea and vintage Ryan Gosling videos.  On the other hand, since the beginning of time, Boy’s Night has always involved a game, junk food, alcohol and the eruption of various bodily gases.

I rest my case!

Unfortunate Men’s Fashion

silhouette-1517089_1280I remember when men’s fashion consisted of the colour of  your shirt, the width of your lapel and the size of your tie.  We’ve come a long way since those heady days when nobody gave a damn  what men looked like.  These days, men are breaking out of their no-style strait-jackets and showing the world just how ridiculous they can look — given half a chance.  Here are some examples of male fashion statements in the 21st century.

Bush Baby Beards — Unlike their Old Testament cousins. these neatly trimmed wannabes are the fashion of a man who desperately wants to be trendy but has minivan payments, a massive mortgage and a job he can’t afford to lose.

Popped collars — Usually found on Lacoste Shirts (those three-button alligator abominations.) They’re the international symbol for “My father’s a lawyer, and now I’m a lawyer, too.”

Half Zippered Polar Fleece — Nothing says Suburban Dad like half zippered polar fleece.

Faux Hawk Hair — For the man who doesn’t have the stones to go full Mohawk.

Tattoos (neck, face or armband) — You think you look like a badass. Guess again!  You look like your IQ and your fashion sense are permanently stuck in the 80s.

Backwards (or sideways) Baseball Hats — The universal style of the heterosexual man who hasn’t quite figured out why women tend to avoid him.

Flip Flops — Except for the beach, the gym and Walmart, grown men wear shoes.  They just do.

Skinny Jeans — No room for your keys, your phone or your genitalia.  No wonder so few hipsters have kids.

Plaid Shirts — Hey, buddy!  You’re not a lumberjack.  You’re a waiter from Queens.

Corn Rows — Normally found on a young man who’s just returned from a Mexican vacation.  His girlfriend thought it would look cute, and he thought he’d get laid.  (They were both wrong.)

Ear Gauge — These tell the world you’ve worked at Starbucks for so long you’re finally on the day shift.

The Man Bun — Just sad.  Really, really sad.

Beanie Caps — Lost your comb, your shampoo and your dignity?  No problem!

Zany Socks — Unless you’re a Dot Com millionaire, a tenured Art History professor or terminally English, zany socks do not make you any more interesting than you already aren’t.

And finally:

The Gangsta Hoodie — If you’re over thirty and still wearing the gangsta hoodie, you need to take a look at your life.  Seriously, something‘s not working.