Ephemera hoopla hula
RANGE: From the drawing board to the boardroom to the assembly line to the ad agency to the supermarket shelves to the house next-door to your own house to the closet to the attic to the garbage dump to the antique store to the museum.
HABITS: A Passing Fancy seizes your imagination and possesses you with a lifelong, burning desire to purchase and own something you’d never known existed the day before yesterday and probably will forget the day after tomorrow. Many of them are quick and clever little tailors and cobblers, who virtually overnight can raise (or lower) every hemline, widen (or narrow) every lapel, sew buttons on (or snip buttons off) every collar in the land. They frequently raise or lower the heels of women’s shoes, causing many a ludicrous stumble. Like many other Fairies, the Passing Fancies are passionately fond of music and dance and can invent an entirely new and totally popular beat, sound, and step in the wink of an eye. They are mischievous: thanks to Passing Fancies you might go to bed with a full head of long flowing locks and awaken with a shaved skull and a safety pin in your nose. These spritely creatures have been known to trick grown men into cultivating droopy, lugubrious mustaches and wearing scarlet knee-length shorts. Through the years, Passing Fancies have bent, bloated, stretched, and flattened the bodies of female victims; singed, knotted, and streaked their hair; and naughtily inspired them to smear their eyes, mouths, and cheeks with grotesque and colored gorp. They are, obviously, extremely capricious toward humankind, tempting mortals to squander their riches on pastimes, garments, and accessories often demeaning (consider the muu-muu) or dangerous (witness hang gliding). But Passing Fancies are also incompatible with one another, so that an invading troupe (like the Preppies) will invariably force into exile a dominating force (in this case, the Punkers) who had, themselves, driven out a previously popular group (the Discos).
HISTORY: In France, they were the Modes, in Germany, “Zeitgeists,” in England “U’s” (and “non-U’s”). In America, the immigrant Fancy families joined together to form the powerful Conspicuous Consumption Syndicate (a leisure service of monopoly capitalism) and practiced the restrictionist art of TM on their products and the language. These three divided the world—the French Modes assuming responsibility for fashion, the Zeitgeists for opinions, and the “U’s” for etiquette—and inspired in all Americans the fear of being caught dead with last season’s cuff-widths, manners, or principles. Although their life spans are notoriously brief, Passing Fancies can be revived. One such group, even now infesting restaurants and shops on both coasts of America, is known as Elf Nouveau.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: If you listen closely, you can hear the hustle and bustle of Passing Fancies expiring (or reviving) in whatever dark corner of your home to which you have consigned your mood ring, lava lamp, disco cassettes and Walkman, skateboard, Smurfs, quad speakers, yo-yos, coonskin caps, Topsiders, Rubik’s Cubes, and Mork suspenders.
Are the expressions “in,” “hip,” “with-it” stillin, hip, with it? Go ask a PassingFancy.