Dear Dr. Boli: It has not escaped notice that many of our youths are re-adopting Victorian norms of dress and other conduct. They call it “steampunk.” What do you say about this remarkable development? Particularly I wish to know, is it a gas? Or will the whole thing just boil over? —Sincerely, C. Simon.
Dear Sir or Madam: It is indeed something of a satire on the mores of our time that the only way young people of today can shock their elders is by dressing properly and speaking with scrupulously correct diction. Some of them have gone so far as to study and practice the norms of social etiquette. Dr. Boli understands that these things are intended only to shock and annoy us; but he prefers to judge our young people by their fruits, and finds the “steampunk” fashion particularly fruity. It is a strange sensation to look on these well-dressed, well-behaved young men and women—something rather like waking up from an enormously destructive hurricane to find that a pile of unsorted lumber has been blown together into a tolerably attractive house. If sometimes the details need a little polishing up, one is nevertheless astonished at how much of the work is already done.
So much for the “steampunk” fashion of today. As to the question of its permanence, Dr. Boli regrets to say that it is only a fad, and as such must vanish, like the fads for crinoline or raccoon coats that Dr. Boli has watched come and go. The children of the “steampunk” generation will have to resort to still more radical ways of shocking their elders, such as driving within the speed limit or not getting tattoos.