Today’s Tide eaters are tomorrow’s voters | Column | The Press and Standard

by | February 24, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 21, 2018 at 10:56 am

Seen the memes about teens eating Tide pods? “Today’s Tide eaters are tomorrow’s voters.” And, “Never thought I’d see kids wash their owns mouths out with soap.”
(Speaking of mouths and soap: When I was three, my brother T-Bob pushed me down a snowy hill on a makeshift sled, a big, shallow tray from Dad’s Merita bread truck. Unable to steer or stop, I slid downhill screaming, landing head-first in a snowbank. I popped up weeping, shook my tiny fist at T-Bob and screamed, “Ya bastid!” Dad laughed so hard he cried. Mom dragged me into the house for a session with Ivory soap.)
Now, I admit that biting into a poison pod is pretty stupid. But kids have always done crazy things, like eating a spoonful of cinnamon or… swallowing goldfish. That was a big thing back in the ‘30s; guys actually gulped live goldfish to impress their dates. Some are still trying it: last week at a restaurant, I saw a man eat a writhing octopus tentacle as his girlfriend squealed in horror—or was it admiration? (I can’t even watch Widdle eat Jello; I packed up my meal to go.)
In the 1920s, flappers—women who liked to dance, party and drink bathtub gin– scandalized America by doing all those things, and also bobbing their hair, wearing makeup and smoking.
Another craze was college men wearing oversized raccoon coats. They looked ridiculous. And the next time you despair of guys who bust a sag, think of zoot suits—wide-legged, tightly cuffed pants, huge lapels and ginormous padded shoulders. Judging by photos, they looked almost as bizarre as today’s baggy jeans revealing four inches of underwear.
You know what else was shocking? Drive-in movies—preachers denounced them from the pulpit. Parents also worried about panty raids, dirty dancing, and flagpole sitting. Another fad was kids cramming themselves into telephone booths and Volkswagen Beetles, followed by mood rings, Twister (I knew kids whose parents wouldn’t let them play), mooning, streaking, etc. etc.
Remember when “rolling,” or draping someone’s front yard with toilet paper, was a huge craze? In our town, it started out as something teens did to people they disliked, like mean shop teachers, or the neighbor who kept every ball that bounced into his yard. Then it evolved into a symbol of popularity, which just shows you how fickle teens are.
Today’s young adults have tattoos, body piercings, blue hair—but it’s all been done before. My grandfather refused to let my dad date a certain girl because she had pierced ears. That was considered scandalous, 70 years ago.
Some of this stuff is funny, especially with the perspective of a few decades. What’s not funny? Sexting. Bullying. Chugging shots. Slut-shaming. Sniffing glue, solvent or anything else God never intended to go up your nose.
And the music—parents have always been shocked by what their kids listen to. Today’s lyrics like “touch my body, throw me on the bed,” and “your *** is paradise” aren’t nursery rhymes (sorry, Bruno), but let’s throw it way back with this: “As my trembling fingers touch forbidden places, I can tell you’ve never been this far before.”
Not exactly G-rated, right? That song, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” is 45 years old. It was a Top 10 hit for Conway Twitty. Some radio stations wouldn’t play it. My dad turned the radio off when it came on. It was shocking, y’all.
The more things change…
Julie R. Smith, whose yard was never rolled, can be reached at

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