If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time on this Earth, it’s that people love fads. Whether it be tight-rolling your pant cuffs in the 80’s, wearing wide pant cuffs in the 90’s, or sewing your pant cuffs to other people’s pant cuffs when they’re not looking in the 2000’s, people love being a part of something that the culture as a whole is generally fascinated with.
Recently, it may surprise you to learn that fads have expanded beyond pant cuffs and into the World Wide Web.
Ever since Facebook stole my idea to have a site that a lot of people visit, I’ve been looking at a way to launch one of these ‘crazes.’
My friend Jim told me I need to come up with an idea that will go viral.
I immediately called the police. I’m not trying to kill anyone here.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was online trying to figure out Google’s web address when I stumbled on an interesting news photo.
“Ah!” I exclaimed, startled.
It showed a picture of the President with about 12 people standing on either side, arms folded. The caption read “President, flanked by supporters.”
Suddenly, an idea hit me, clear as day.
I could call Google and ask for their web address.
Then, I glanced at the photo and read the caption again.
I thought about ‘Planking’ and how that had become a huge internet sensation, until all of those people were killed.
This could be much larger, with a much lower death toll.
I knew I had to test it first.
I was at McDonalds and a gentlemen was arguing with the cashier. The Big Mac he had ordered didn’t give him as much joy as a commercial had implied and he demanded a refund under the pretense of false advertising.
The clerk was resisting the argument, saying different people experience different results. The man argued that there should have been a disclaimer at the bottom of the advertisement that says that.
I decided to flank this man.
I walked up and stood by his side and folded my hands.
The clerk looked at us.
“Maybe I’m wrong,” the clerk conceded. “Maybe this whole damn company is wrong!”
The man got his money back.
“Hey man, thanks for standing by my side in that,” he said. “If it wasn’t for your support, I would never have gotten my 3 dollars back. Want to be friends?”
“Nope,” I replied.
Flanking had passed the first test.
The next day at work, this guy was giving a presentation on something. Another Flanking (now at the point where I’m capitalizing it) opportunity. I got up and stood next to him.
“Great job,” my boss stood up clapping. “You two really put a lot of work into that.”
Later on, the presenter confronted me in the break room. He started going in on how much work he had put in that presentation and he didn’t appreciate sharing the credit or something.
“Look, I wasn’t even paying attention to your presentation and I doubt anybody else was either,” I said trying to make him feel better, but he was growing more and more angry.
Another flanking opportunity.
As he was yelling at me, I moved from standing across from him, to standing beside him. He kept moving around trying to get across from me so he could keep yelling but I kept moving until he was chasing me around the break room.
Finally he gave up.
Two more points for Flanking.
That night, I was explaining Flanking to the bartender when a Marine walked up to me.
“Flanking, by its very definition requires at least one other person,” he explained. “You’ve got to have someone on either side.”
“Good point,” I said, intrigued. “Would you like to help me out?”
“Please,” he replied. “You’re not Flanking at my level.”
And with that he disappeared.
Or something. I don’t really remember what happened to him.
“I’ll help you,” an old guy spoke up, who had been sitting at the end of the bar. “I used to be a cop.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked. Still I was glad for the help. We chose our target. This guy who had just been approached by a woman.
“Are you John?” she asked.
“I am,” he replied to her. “So nice to meet you. First dates are so awkward.”
Suddenly, we Flanked him at his right and his left.
“What…what is this?” she asked.
He looked at either side to see us, standing, hands folded in front.
“I don’t… what’s going on guys?” he asked. But we remained silent.
“Am I in some kind of trouble or something?” she asked.
“What? No! No!” he said desperately.
“This is too weird, I’m out of here!” she said and stormed out of the bar.
“You idiots!” the stranger seemed angry. “That was my first date since my fiancé left me! I was finally moving on!”
“You know, someone should really be photographing this stuff,” I said to the old guy. “Otherwise, how is this every going to catch on?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked.
“Back to me!” the other guy yelled. “You’re going to pay for this”
And with that he broke a beer bottle over my head.
The next day, I woke up in a hospital bed, Flanked by a doctor and a nurse.
“Sir, you suffered a mild concussion,” the doctor said. “Now we just need to take a photo…”
I could see what was happening. The doctor had learned for my Flanking idea and was trying to get it online before I could.
“Oh no you don’t,” I said jumping out of bed.
I ran out of the hospital only to find that I was too late.
Everywhere I looked, there were people standing next to other people.
“My idea has been stolen!” I shouted.
I ran down the side walk trying to pry people apart but they just kept going back together.
Later I was confronted by a police officer.
“So, you’re telling me, you came up with the idea of standing next to another person?” he asked.
With that he took me back to the hospital.
I sunk into a deep depression.
My wife tried to cheer me up by cooking me a nice meal, but unfortunately, she wasn’t thinking and had grilled us flank steaks.
I realized, I may never start an internet fad.
In the weeks after I had accepted that fact, I began to notice something, however.
I began to ask around and almost no one I met had started, nor intended to start an internet fad either.
“I started that!” I told them excitedly, but they didn’t believe me.
That’s okay. I bet no one believes the guy who started Tebowing that he was the brains behind that fad either.