Every generation has its unexplainable fads. Items and activities and styles that just everyone — of a certain age — has to own or wear or participate in.
Some of these fads maintain their wild popularity for generations, like the yo-yo and beer-battered Pop-Tarts, while others quickly fade from memory (think Furbys or coonskin caps).
Virtually all of the diverse fads of the past century, however — from Pez to Pong to Pogs — have one thing in common: Each of them is at least a little cooler or more interesting than the current craze sweeping the youth of America.
Silly Bandz? This is what you kids are going to contribute to American culture? Not exactly Big Mouth Billy Bass, now is it?
Silly Bandz, for those of you without children, are simple rubber bands that come in many colors and shapes and are worn by our youth like bracelets.
Other companies have co-opted the idea — with names like Goofy Bandz, Fun Bandz, Crazy Bandz, Bandz on the Runz, Zilly Bandz, pSilly pBandz — to further spread what is a completely harmless, and completely lame fad.
The bandz are simply little pieces of extremely flimsy rubber that happen to be shaped like dinosaurs or wizards or toaster ovens ... but even that doesn't matter, since the objects lose their shape when they're on somebody's wrist. Still, rare is the preteen without a handful of these running up his or her arm.
Come on. At least an 8-track tape gave you ... something.
You can't play games with Silly Bandz, like prior generations could with hula hoops, Frisbees, Hacky Sacks, Rubik's Cubes, Pokemon cards, Slinkies, Atari 2600s, slap bracelets and Clackers.
You can't throw and catch them, like Nerf balls, Koosh balls, pet rocks, Happy Fun Balls, Magic 8 Balls and lawn darts.
You can't eat them, like Pop Rocks or Super Elastic Bubble Plastic.
You can't dance to them, like the Hustle, the Macarena and the Electric Slide.
You can't watch them grow, like Chia Pets, sea monkeys and Tamagotchi virtual pets.
Unless they're covering an ugly wrist scar, Silly Bandz can't improve your appearance, as bell bottoms, Nehru jackets, platform shoes, Farrah Fawcett haircuts, Keep on Truckin' T-shirts, temporary tattoos and legwarmers can.
You can't use them to cheer on your favorite team, like vuvuzelas, Terrible Towels, Homer Hankies and Rally Monkeys.
You can't hug them and squeeze them as if they're your very own beloved — if odd-looking — family members, like a Beanie Baby or a Cabbage Patch Kid or a troll doll or a Care Bear.
They're not helpful in daily life, like lava lamps, the Sony Walkman, soap-on-a-rope, hair extensions, mood rings, CB radios, Trapper Keepers, sneakers that pump up, sneakers with wheels and George Foreman grills.
Silly Bandz, frankly, are an embarrassment to the long and storied history of silly fads. At least they cost less than a Tickle Me Elmo. That's something, I suppose.
E-mail Steve Ouellette at: firstname.lastname@example.org