I’m not very trendy — although I’m pretty sure no one has caught on to that fact, because I conceal it so well. I did kind of like the Hula Hoop, though, and I thought the Mood Ring and the Pet Rock were sort of nifty: things people will buy even though there’s no definition of “need” under which they actually need them.
Maybe the most notable difference between the fads of yesteryear and the must-haves of today is cost. A Hula Hoop probably ran a couple of bucks when the craze hit, around 1958. The Mood Ring and the Pet Rock likely cost a bit more when they suddenly appeared, in the 1970s.
But to keep up with the Joneses nowadays, you have to have a high-end smart phone (for several hundred bucks), with whatever apps are hot right now and cost up to $9.99 a month, each; and a navigation system in your car, for maybe a grand more, even if you already have GPS on your phone; and if your car isn’t also factory equipped (for many more simoleons) to respond to voice commands such as “Find sushi!” and “Call home!” you may as well hang your head in shame.
Speaking of home, it has long been mandatory to have several thousand dollars’ worth of granite or quartz countertop on which to unwrap your Lean Cuisine frozen entrée before bypassing your six-burner, restaurant-grade, stainless steel range to pop it into the microwave; along with piles of bamboo that’s been dragged out of the tropics and shipped thousands of miles — in freighters powered by bunker oil — for your flooring pleasure. So much for harmless fads.
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In a completely unrelated matter, there’s no telling what you’ll find if you should find yourself rummaging around in Meriden’s City Code (or, perhaps, in just about any municipality’s code of ordinances.) Anyway, here are today’s offerings:
1. Just in case you were wondering what “graffiti” means, here’s the definition that applies within the city limits: “Any letters, numbers, word or words, writing or inscription, symbols, drawings, carving, etching or any other marking of any nature whatsoever which defaces, obliterates, covers, alters, damages or destroys the real or personal property of another.”
However — and it’s a big however, perhaps informed by a desire not to clog court dockets with flocks of little-girl defendants — the code specifically exempts hopscotch courts (or grids, or whatever they’re called) from any whiff of criminality: “This chapter shall not be construed to prohibit easily removable chalk markings on the public sidewalks and streets used in connection with traditional children’s games.”
2. And lots of people probably don’t know that there’s a 9 p.m. curfew for anyone under 15 “to loiter on the streets or in any other public place in the City” unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, or another adult person assigned by a parent or guardian.
3. As for the definition of “person,” that’s been a problem since before dirt was invented, but now it’s been settled. Here you go: “Any individual, corporation, partnership, joint venture, or other entity.”
Wait a minute. Not so fast: “Person” does not mean “a private corporation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code [26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)] whose chief executive officer earns a salary which when calculated on an hourly basis is less than eight times the lowest wage paid by the corporation or which employs 20 or fewer year-round employees in the City of Meriden.”
Just think: Give your CEO a raise and your not-for-profit can be raised to personhood.
Well, that’s a relief.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.