I was walking down an East London street the other day, minding my own business and spying nothing unexpected or untoward. There was a crackhead on one corner, a hipster on another, and something that could either be one or the other passing by in the distance—all in all a generic and casual stroll with nothing majorly aberrant around to disturb my over-priced-latte-clutching stride. Until that is, while gently correcting my vector to swerve past a smattering of used laughing gas canisters in my path, I spied a huge colourful poster in the window of a small local shop.
‘FIDGET SPINNERS HERE NOW; £1.99 EACH!!!’ it read, using words I didn’t know and a picture of a thing I didn’t recognise.
Briefly intrigued, I slowed my stride and made a mental note to figure out what the hell this cryptogram meant for me and for the world.
Then, because the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a thing, I started spotting that shit everywhere.
FIDGET SPINNERS HERE!
Cheap fidget spinners there.
Fidget fucking spinners everywhere.
One minute they were nowhere, nothing, and then in a blink of an eye it seemed the whole world had gone fidget spinning mad. They were being advertised everywhere. Sold everywhere. Videos and gifs were being made about them. I would see hordes of schoolchildren on their lunch breaks playing with these things as I cycled past and I would frown and I’d wonder:
What is that shit?
I mean, I know it’s a fidget spinner.
But what the fuck is that?
What do they do?
Using all the power of my formidable booze-powered head-computer I surmised that they probably spun. But that couldn’t be it. Did they fly too? They looked a bit like drones? Could you use them to do battle?
I refused to look online to figure it out. I was not an Old. I mean, I’m not exactly what you’d call trendy, but shit, I stay pretty much on top of most trends, just by virtue of osmosis. A passive awareness. But this spinning shit had apparently appeared, created a buzz, and was adopted by everyone while completely passing me by. I would tell my friends about it, and the older ones would nod knowingly and smile with wry melancholy and they’d tell me that they always considered themselves Young and With It, until that one thing came along—a fad, a musical act, a meme—that they just did Not Get, and BOOM that was it. I’d stare at them slack-jawed, not understanding until the Indiana Jones warehouse man in my head finished fishing out an appropriate Simpsons reference for me to filter new knowledge through, at which point I would gasp with revelation. I got it: I am become Abe, the not understander (shut up it’s a perfectly cromulent word) of trends!
Is this it now?
Have I crossed my fidget spinner Rubicon?
I wander in a daze contemplating whether I’m now an Old as the shops keep their posters up and the schoolkids keep their fidgets spinning while I hike my trousers up past my belly button, steadfastly refusing to look this up.