Monday, August 12, 2013

The Year of the Turtle

Back in the mid 80s, when we used to take the extra fabric around the ankles of our jeans, then fold, wrap and roll it as tight as possible to our ankles -- in a fashion practice known as pegging -- I asked my mom how anyone could ever have thought bell bottoms were cool. She said, all things come and go. She even went so far as to predict that one day pegging would be seen as odd and bell bottoms would be back in style. I thought she was nuts. 

A decade later, she was right. It was the first time I remember seeing the pendulum swing so clearly, and it proved a powerful lesson. All things do come and go: even things as odd as excessively loose, or ridiculously tight pant ankles.

But even in her wisdom, I do not think my mother could have predicted a blast from the past that has come back recently to overtake our household. It’s a trend for sure, though not of the fashion variety, and it has become the singular obsession of my four children. Anyone who has interacted with my kids in recent months knows the scourge of which I speak: Turtles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to be precise. Though, by my estimation, they are middle-aged mutants at best, by this point.

I remember the first time the series made waves in the late eighties. After that, I don’t think I heard a thing about them for a decade or two. Though I'm kind of out of it when it comes to trends.  Now they are back, stronger than ever, as a newly animated series has suddenly taken over Nickelodeon’s summer programing. 

How these four mutant martial artists made it back from obscurity, I haven’t a clue. Heck, I don’t know how the trend caught on in the first place. This was a television series that jumped the shark in the concept room.   

They're mutants. They're reptiles.
They're ninjas. And they're everywhere.
Still, my kids love it. They've gone so far as to each adopt the name of a favorite turtle, along with a preference for the color of their chosen turtle's headband and constant repetition of key quotes from that character.

There's Leonardo, the leader (blue); Donatello, the smart one (purple); Raphael, the tough guy (red); and Michelangelo, the dumb, but funny one who likes to surf and party a lot (orange). I never quite understood why the so-called “heroes on the half shell” were named after four great Italian artists. They just were. Again, the idea for this animated foursome passed the exit for absurd long before the names were chosen.

And, of course, each turtle also has its own specific martial arts skill and a ninja weapon or two. Which makes for hours of family fun, as the kids pretend to fight evil and I scream at them to stop hitting each other with fake ninja moves.  
 
I’m half expecting this year’s Christmas wish lists to include nunchucks and throwing stars, as well as all the TMNT crap our local, neighborhood Target can cram into the aisle that all the retail giants will most certainly devote to the mutants this shopping season. That is, if this trend last until Christmas.  
 
As the old saying goes, the flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long. That's right: I just quoted ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu. Circa 550 B.C. That's because the kids have decided that I am Splinter, the giant mutant rat that is their sensei. I take my pretend dojo lessons vey seriously.   

We’ll have to wait and see just how long this turtle obsession lasts. But it certainly proves again that all things come and go. No matter how absurd -- like bell bottoms.  

Though, I’m still waiting for pegged pants to come back. Or, did that happen already?

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