Each new year social pundits come out with well-publicized lists of what's "in" and "out." Do you read them with the chagrined realization that the "outs" are things you've just been catching on to and three quarters of the "ins" you've never heard of?
Life styles in America today are anything but static. And, secretly, many of us yearn for more predict-ability. We wouldn't mind the changes -- if only we knew what to expect.
A solution to these fluctuating fashions may be borrowed from the ancient wisdom of those people who brought us gunpowder and egg rolls: the Chinese. Every winter, a big Chinese New Year celebration launches a predetermined animal totem to guide the public through the months ahead. The Year of the Dog, the Year of the Rat, and in 1983, the Year of the Pig.
Why not follow suit with our own set of rotating years? We could keep the fun and freshness of ever-shifting life styles without the insecurity. Knowing precisely what the next year's fashion -- and resolution -- will demand, we could all act accordingly.
For starters, we could have these six years:
Year of the Fat Cat
This is the year to shed any vestige of embarrassment at luxurious and ostentatious living. Preparations include buying new china with a service for 40. Start subscribing to Fortune and Washington Dossier magazines. Do all your shopping in Georgetown Park or the Watergate boutiques. Cultivate a Meaningful Relationship with your favorite designer. On the evening of celebration, sit down and plan a program of conspicuous consumption as you welcome in the anticipated excesses of the New Year.
Resolution: I will wear each new garment twice before donating it to charity.
Year of the Volkswagen Rabbit
Austerity and environmental conscience are the fashion for the next 12 months. Prepare by renewing your subscription to Prevention Magazine and Consumer Reports. Remove all fashionable labels from your clothing, with the notable exception of L. L. Bean. Purchase a wood-burning stove and befriend your local chainsaw. For that special New Year's celebration, plan a pot-luck dinner and invite Ralph Nader. Be sure to warn fellow revelers to wear extra sweaters since the thermostat will be set at 64 degrees F.
Resolution: I will recycle my brown paper lunch bag until it disintegrates.
Year of the Steaming Stallion
This is the year for all closet Travoltas and their female counter-parts to strut into the limelight. For men, preparations include cutting the top four buttons off all shirts and investing in several yards of gold chain. And you'll need to lay hold of the best curling iron money can buy -- for your chest hair, of course. Women, suit up in red spandex and practice a provocative stance -- in 4-inch heels. Male or female, Celebration Eve finds you profiling on a Karastan rug.
Resolution: I will not go home alone.
Year of the Rara Avis
This is the year to be the kind of sensitive, intellectual person that mothers wish their sons and daughters would bring home. Both men and women should buy some Proust to flaunt modestly on the Metro. Celebrate the Eve of Eves having a romantic tete a tete with a date, discussing classical allusions in Rocky III. At midnight, remember to call both mothers.
Resolution: I will not cry in group therapy.
Year of the Charley Horse
Focus is on the New You. Preparations include joining a spa or health club and mastering an arcane argot. From abs to Adidas and Nike to Nautilus, your waistline is shrinking while your consciousness is expanding. Incorporating a salt-free diet with 5 miles a day brings you to that special night in excellent condition. Plan an aerobic midnight workout with a friend of the opposite sex. Share a hot tub and a tube of Ben-Gay.
Resolution: I will feel as bad as necessary in order to feel good.
Year of the Sensuous Sloth
Exertion and fitness are out and indolence is in. The guidelines are simple: Do as little as possible. Only energy expended on behalf of rich food, expensive drink or self-indulgent surroundings is acceptable. Celebration Eve finds you with a case of Mumm's Extra-Dry and only one problem -- whether to imbibe, or dive into it.
Resolution: Under no circumstance will I work up a sweat.
The advantages of the Chinese system for American society are obvious. Conformists will know what to do to be au curant, while non-conformists will not run the risk of inadvertently being in step. The possibilities are endless... Year of the Boll Wevil, Year of the Blue-Blood WASP.
And just think of how much fun we'll have pigging out in the Year of the Whole Hog!