1) Social networking. Remember humans? You know, those fleshy creatures with arms and legs and eyeballs? No, me neither. That’s because all my friends, even the formerly human ones, are now avatars on Twitter and Facebook. It’s the best way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances, both old and new, without ever having to actually see or converse with them. Fist bumps are tough, but I’m sure they’ll come up with a virtual one soon. (By the way, both avatars and “Avatar” are in.)
2) Doing it yourself. Used to be when something broke in your house, or you needed new tile in your kitchen, or you wanted a new room to put your widescreen TV, you’d call a guy. Well, no longer: Now you just call the guy after your screw these things up yourself and can’t figure out how to fix it. Luckily, you can no longer afford a widescreen TV, so you don’t need that room anymore.
3) Bargain groceries. Those fancy supermarkets that sell organic vegetables and pre-made gourmet meals and 47 different varieties of hummus (chipotle? really?) are just as suave as ever — and they’re also out. Because the grocery stores with the white floors that have been off-white since 1987 and the bins where you can buy rock-hard caramels for a nickel each are what’s fitting into our budget. Au revoir, semi-firm Gruyère!
4) Skinny jeans. If skinny jeans were only for skinny people, I wouldn’t have a problem with this. But it’s the other people, the ones who look like they just stepped out of an industrial strength dryer, that I’m concerned about. Mark my words: The person who invents fat jeans will make a fortune.
Tall boots are also back in — it’s only a matter of time before we’re all dressed like musketeers. But Crocs, alas, are out, as much as you’d think brightly colored plastic shoes with holes in them would be popular for all eternity.
5) Reading. Here’s the thing about books: You don’t need a cable hookup or a satellite dish. You don’t need $12 per person for tickets or $25 for popcorn. You don’t need 3-D glasses or a special plastic pad that you stand on. You just need a book, a couch and, if possible, a cat to sit on your lap. So books are in, and they’ll be really in once people figure out how to distribute them free on the Internet. The Internet is in.
1) Eating out. Tight budgets mean more home cooking, which means cries of “Meat loaf again?” in kitchens across America. (Appropriate responses include “You’ll eat it and like it!” and “People are starving in Africa!”)
The one exception is if you can go out somewhere and have somebody bring your food to you in your car, whereupon you unwrap it and eat it in a parking lot with your motor running. As Julia Child would say, bon appetite! Julia Child is in.
2) Beauty pageants. These were already going the way of dog racing and indoor smoking (both out) when Miss USA Carrie Prejean dealt the final blow, dissing same-sex marriage from the pageant stage and then taking her show on the road … before her sex tapes started popping up like rhinestones on a tiara. Unfortunately for Prejean, same-sex marriage is in, and sex tapes are out — on DVD and Blu-Ray, probably. (Blu-Ray is in.)
3) Phones. Having a plain old phone would seem to indicate that you want to talk to people. This is completely unnecessary (see “IN,” above). The in people all have “smartphones,” from which you can text, surf the Web, watch videos, listen to music and taser people at parties. (Tasering is still in.) And with texting in, e-mailing is out, except among deposed Nigerian princes, who simply will not give up on it. Saying “application” instead of “app” is way out.
4) Dog breeds from hell. What is a labradoodle, anyway?
5) Dancing on the graves of newspapers. A year ago, people seemed to be thinking that by this time newspapers would be being used exclusively to make papier mache animal masks. And while there are fewer papers than there used to be, things have calmed down a little bit, and people seem to be realizing that newspapers actually provide a valuable service.
Namely, bringing you this “What’s In and Out” every year. In and Out is in!
This year’s What’s In and Out appeared originally in North Shore Sunday and was written by Peter Chianca and researched by Carol Brooks Ball, Richard Clapp, Myrna Fearer, Lisa Guerriero, Christopher Hurley, Dena Lisle, Dan MacAlpine, Sarah Menesale, Kathryn O'Brien, Kris Olson, Charlene Peters, Nancy Prag, Marlene Switzer, Barbara Taormina and Wendall Waters.