My children scavenge our junk mail the way raccoons go through garbage cans. Consequently, they are authorities on every "hot" knee-jerk and right-wing cause in America. They also are up on every get-rich-quick scheme available to suckers and children of all ages.

But they were stumped by a recent subscription plea from the magazine "W," a radical-chic weekly made up of the tidbits and fashion items of Women's Wear Daily, the must reading for those involved with Seventh Avenue. The pitch was who and what is In and Out . . . people, foods, places, even countries.

"What do they mean, 'In,'" asked my innocent 10-year-old -- unable to grasp either the cynicism or the upward mobility implied in any In and Out list. I explained that In is what "everyone" likes, and Out is what they disdain. I decided, just for fun, to get my children (aged 10, 13 and 14) to make an In and Out list for kids. Naturally they refused. So I wrote it instead, with them and others acting as consultants only.

On a more sober note, it appears that these days drugs are Out, but drinking is In.

Sometimes you can't win for losing. Food IN Cokes Bacon-cheeseburgers French fries Cheetos Homemade cookies OUT Apple juice Gum Fried chicken at Roy Rogers Potato chips Store-bought cookies Clothes IN Docksiders Sneakers Preppy look (boys) brand-name T-shirts No-name jeans Button-down shirts (girls) Blazers (girls) Cowboy boots (girls) Loafers (boys) Pappagallo look (girls) OUT Oxfords Iron-on T-shirts Designer jeans Dresses (girls) Vests (girls) Lacoste socks (boys) Madras pants (boys) Cosmic strips IN Doonesbury Gasoline Alley OUT The Hulk Nancy Spider Man Sports IN Horseback riding (girls) Gymnastics (girls) Roller-skating (girls) Baseball (boys) OUT Ballot (girls) Golf (boys) Soccer (boys) Skate-boarding (boys) Games IN Walkman stereo cassette players Chinese jacks (girls) Stratomatic (boys) Space Invaders (boys) OUT Computer baseball (boys) Dungeons and Dragons (boys) Pinball machines (boys) Television IN "Dallas" (girls) "Saturday Night Live" (still in) "M*A*S*H" OUT "Dallas" (boys) "CHiPs" "Happy Days" "Laverne and Shirley" "Mork and Mindy" IN New Wave Beatles OUT Sean Cassidy BeeGees Radio Stations IN Q107 WPGC DC101 OUT WGAY Expressions IN Awesome Excellent OUT Groovy Nerd Faggot Hangouts In Georgetown (area) Station Break Roy Rogers OUT White Flint (area) McDonald's Miscellaneous IN Talking on the phone Eating out Extra cash Sleepovers OUT Cleaning the room Walking the dog Doing chores Liver Animals IN Dogs Cats OUT Goldfish Gerbils Hamsters