in thirteen years (part 1/2)

In thirteen years, there will be a new fad: love languages expressed through colored collars: red orange yellow green blue / gift touch time praise deed. On February 10th, the fad will begin--quietly, on blacktwitter or fairykeitumblr or youngartistinstagram or somewhere else that will never receive credit. Some raver kids of color who are into wholesome memes and celebrating each other will craft them out of kandi. A post will go viral, and the community that follows the bright young lives these kids express through photograph will adopt their trend in their own cities.

On February 19th, a bullied eighth grader reads a silly manga online and decides to test the world in a leap of faith in humanity. She dresses in all orange, collar included, arms himself with a 'Free Hugs' sign, and skips school for a bus ride downtown. The bus driver is a twenty-something with an orange collar, and she is just the first. No one asks why she's not in school. They just hug her. Someone buys her a meal (blue, though). At some point, she works up the courage to raise, and use, her sign on a busy street. At some point, she start crying and doesn't care because it's a good kind of cry, carthartic and joy-tinged. Kids get out of school and even her own neglectful classmates run to hug her. It becomes a minor news story, but only the young understand the significance of her coloring.

On February 23, a group of five high schoolers will go to a barlike restaurant (it must kick them out at 10pm) to exchange compliments. They all wear green collars, of course, and they all agree it would be fun. They talk like many youth do in that tone of sincerity that is played up to the point of laughing at itself. But they're still sincere, wearing their favorite outfits, having pre-gamed before if with access to alcohol, pretending to grow drunk on sodas, improvising talents, and praising and praising and praising each other. It feels good every time. Some of their dates are present, some of their dates are more masculine, less emotional, and without collar. They complain: it's a circlejerk taco party. One of their dates is masculine but emotional and says what's working with circlejerk? An ego feast? A lot of what they say is true as long as they believe it. He asks some the dates if they know their colors, because obviously they aren't being fed by this.

By March 3rd, everyone at a small southwestern grocery chain store will have a color. The clerks will have a system of tapping in or out based on customer reputations: here is the customer that loves to take his sweet time and you're the most patient, aren't you? or here is that customer who always needs help and you love to help, don't you? or here is that customer who loves to flirt, so let me handle her! On breaks, the ones who can, smoke as they all chat. There is an ongoing debate on whether listening to someone vent counts giving quality time, providing words of affirmation, or performing emotional labor. This blue green or yellow? one says. Why not all of them? So the topic switches to multicolor collars. 

On March 7th: An instafamous celebrity displays a red collar with the tag #diamondsareagirlsbestfriend. An indie artist with a semi-popular Etsy specializing in 8bit kandi sprites immediately starts tagging her color collars with the celebrity's name. Of course it takes off. An aspiring journalist and part-time political astroturfer drafts up pitches the very hour, hoping to be the first to explain the trend to adults.

By March 26th, even preschoolers are wearing them. There is a whole class whose eager clamours convinced a teacher to begin the day with color collar activities. They learn colors and matching actions: sharing on red day, hugging on orange, helping on blue, and complimenting on green. Every day together is a yellow day, their teachers says. They are too young to know their favorite love language, and so most tend towards the rainbow collars popularized by Target.

On April 11th, two private school buddies hatch a plot to wear all yellow until their parents notice. Their parents do not wear colors, but the friends concluded that they are all red due to rough upbringings. But who wants to be a lawyer or banker, just to make money? Who wants another dumb car? They loiter together, dressed down and skating on the hills by the beach, drinking slurpees with the same straw, lying in the park grass and conjugating new cuss words. They notice the green on the poet at an open mic, and cheer extra loud, bang the table. They notice the blue of the young mom pulling a personal shopping cart uphill and convince her to give some weight away to their healthy young bodies. They notice the red of a sticky toddler wandering too far from her cousin's birthday party, and they stick a roll of twenties in her back romper pocket with hushed giggles. The toddler dives for the first drops of candy when the cousin's pinata receives its first rupturing crack, and the two private school buddies laugh at the cuteness of greed in such a tiny little body.