HARPER: Trendsetting: Can mullets and fanny packs make a comeback?

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Brian Harper

I’ve been thinking a lot about my legacy lately. The epitaph on my proverbial tombstone, the world I’m going to leave my children … you know, those sorts of things.

Perhaps these are simply the typical ruminations of a soon-to-be college graduate, selfishly insecure he will not be remembered for having done anything of lasting importance. Regardless of the source of these musings, I finally decided it was time to be proactive and figure out how to leave my mark.

I concluded the best way to do this would be to start a trend. Sometimes, trends introduce the world to something entirely new, but lately, I’ve noticed that many trends involve something becoming hip after an initial period of being popular and followed by a long, subsequent dry spell of being incredibly lame.

Take Chuck Norris, for example.  “Walker, Texas Ranger” was all the rage when it came onto the scene in 1993. It ran for an inexplicable eight years before disappearing alongside “Clarissa Explains It All” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” into the caverns of crappy, forgotten ‘90s TV shows.

That was until Conan O’Brien installed a “Walker, Texas Ranger” lever next to his talk show desk, previewing a clip of Norris every time he pulled it. Suddenly everyone was talking about how Norris’ tears could cure cancer, the problem, of course, being that Chuck Norris never cries. Even Mike Huckabee jumped on board, featuring the actor/legend prominently in his campaign commercials.

That is exactly what I hoped to do: take something completely out of style and make it hot again.

A friend of mine suggested fanny packs, which I instantly recognized as a monumental and worthy challenge. The only individuals I could think of that still wear fanny packs are people who do so as part of their jobs, i.e. parking lot attendants and lifeguards carrying first aid supplies. I sadly once included myself in this latter category.

Although suburban parents might have worn fanny packs when they took their kids to Disney World in the ’80s, they were certainly never fashionable. I’m not good enough to make gold out of something that has always been unstylish, so I searched for a new potential trend.

Growing a mullet immediately came to mind. We all now know how hilarious it is to see someone maintaining business in the front and a party in the back, but photos of my mom and her siblings in the ‘70s make it abundantly clear that there was once a baffling period when mullets were considered a very good idea.

The downside of sporting a mullet is that I would want to punch the glass every time I looked in the mirror. At the end of the day, my goal was to set a new standard, not to operate in a perpetual state of self-loathing. A mullet, I determined, would not suffice.

It was beginning to seem like I was making excuses for myself. I started thinking about Norris again. Why was he so special? Among all the other great fads that never got another shot at trendyness, why did he get a second victory lap?

And then it hit me. The best thing about Norris, even more than his roundhouse kicks and magic albeit non-existent tears, is his consistency. When the general American public, circa 2007, decided Chuck was once again deserving of its adulation, it was like he had never left. Same fiery red hair. Same steely eyes. Same noble courage.

What is and is not trendy varies on an almost day-to-day basis, with yesterday’s MySpace giving way to today’s Facebook. Given this unpredictability, those who concern themselves with trying to stay up-to-date on fads often end up a step behind the curve. Ironically, it seems the true trendsetters like Norris — with a little help from O’Brien — are the ones who don’t change at all.

So don’t worry, mullets. Your time, too, shall come.

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