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Flip-Flopping Through the Ins, Outs of 1991

December 30, 1990|MARY ANN HOGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Hogan is a Berkeley free-lance writer

It's time once again for your humble arbiters of what's in and what's out to take you on a guided tour of the coming year.

So here's to 1991. The first year since 1881 that works just as well backward as it does forward. The year of the palindrome--a weird, anxiety-fraught year that sounds better than it feels.

Yes, 1991, where functional is in and decorative is out.

Where rotary phones are back in and car phones are back out.

Where having a second job is in and having a nose job is out (and not even tax-deductible after Tuesday).

Where catching it on the flip-flop is in and being on the cutting edge is out.

Which means it's back to basics, folks. Time to dig out the Hamburger Helper (in) and use your imagination (in) to stretch your resources. How? Have your Acura NSX (out) double as a vacation retreat or use your Marilyn Quayle retro-flip hairdo (out) as a coat rack (upright).

Speaking of basics, inarticulateness is in (the rap thing, the presidential thing), and the eloquence thing is out for the new year. So much for Mel Gibson playing Hamlet (in or out, depending on whether it's to be or not to be).

Which reminds us:

Being there is in for '91, but getting there is out. Driving, for example, is out, out, out--unless you have an electric car (in), a pair of high-tech roller skates (ditto), or a secret way to get through the Harbor Freeway construction nightmare (over and out) without getting arrested.

Leaving there is really in, especially if you're a hostage in a Kuwaiti oil refinery or a GI in one of those nozzle-nosed anteater gas-attack suits.

Speaking of attacks, you'll be happy to know that depression and despair are big in items for '91. The heebie-jeebies, the lowdowns and the mubblefubbles are all in, as is faxing your anxiety dreams in the middle of the night to your therapist, your tax accountant or your mother (in, in and in).

Getting your therapist (the doctor is in) to prescribe your Prozac is really in, by the way.

So is living to tell about it.

On the business front, the era of bloodless competition may finally be over, with Milken in the slammer and Trump in the doghouse.

Yes, dog-eat-dogism is out and underdogism is in.

Supermarket giveaway dog-food samples are in (arf).

Millie the Dog's autobiography is in, too.

Reagan the former President's autobiography (a real dog) is out.

Mrs. Thatcher is finally out, and her hairdresser is on the way to obedience school.

And what a year it has been international-wise (see aforementioned "inarticulate" reference). Sweep-of-History City! We witnessed the official end of the Cold War (out); the dismantling of the Soviet bloc (ditto); the Saudi ban on women drivers (off the road); the not-so-subtle symbolism of Mrs. Bush finding a backstroking rat in the White House pool. (Out, we hope.)

In the New Order of Things:

Unity is in; hegemony, out.

Skodas are in; Hondas, out.

Chevies are out; Volkswagon, in. (Oops, that's Volkswag e n.)

Which reminds us, spelling is in--that's S-P-E-L-L--especially if you want to keep up with your new United German investment partners. Indeed, the Germans have been out for so long that they're in. In fact, keeping a German dictionary in your pocket is really in, as is knowing the difference between a Volkslieder and Volkswagen and being able to recite the titles in Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen."

On other fronts:

Feuding Czechs are in; bouncing checks, out.

Declinism, isolationism and protectionism are either in or out, depending on whether you can figure out what they mean.

East-West is out; North-South is in.

Which reminds us: The Civil War is in, and it's about time! Maybe kids will start figuring out that the Battle of Gettysburg didn't happen in 1968 after all. Historian Shelby Foote is in and getting richer by the minute. Also in, knowing how many years are in four score and seven and who's buried in Grant's tomb.

The South in general is in, by the way, which means red beans with rice is in.

So is being nicknamed Bubba.

On the Western front, which is mostly quiet:

Brian Wilson is out, Pete Wilson is in. (And much easier to spell than Deukmejian.)

Jane Fonda is way out (I mean, Ted Turner!!!??), but this is somehow balanced by the fact that Tommy Lasorda's stomach is way in.

Los Angeles in general is back in after being demolished by a ridiculous network TV earthquake (out).

Which reminds us--CBS, ABC and NBC are out, out and out.

So are S&Ls, and the S&P 500.

X, the rating, is out, and sex 'n' dating is in after a brief period of ignominy.

The sin tax is in; syntax R out.

Implantable contraceptives are in (ouch!); saying you have a headache is out.

Taking Motrin for your headache is in; taking Tylenol is out.

Speaking of drugs:

Valium as an antidote to nerve gas is in; Marion Barry is out. (Catch you on the flip-flop, Marion.)

In the fun flavors department: Milli Vanilli is out; Darryl Strawberry is in. Dancing raisins are out; Dancing Coke cans, in (but don't forget to recycle). The Green House effect is still in; the White House effect is out. No, in . . . No, out . . . No . . .

Crime is up, the market is down, the party is over.

But what's to worry? Just curl up on your functional LA-Z Boy recliner with a good inarticulate novel.

Take two Prozac.

And call us in the morning.

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