Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | October 30, 2008

Paleontology 101: Slap Bracelets

As far back as I can remember there has always been some sort of “wrist-fad.”

Lance Armstrong brought the LiveStrong craze upon us like a plague. Nerds brought those crazy calculator watch-things. And a slew of old ladies besieged a generation of young women with the albatross that is the charm bracelet.

All of these ‘flavor of the month’ wrist-fads pale in comparison to the shockwave that slap bracelets sent through the world in the early ‘90s. I remember how excited I was when I got my first one. It seemed like everyone in my class already had two or three and I was still without a single one of these marvels of modern fashion, when my grandma showed up one Sunday afternoon baring gifts.

To my older brother she gave a VHS-cassette tape featuring the Ultimate Warrior in all his face-painted, feathered-hair glory. To my younger brother she gave a package with three new Hot Wheels race cars. Then, she turned to me and handed me my first slap bracelet!! Unfortunately, my moment of glee was somewhat thwarted by the fact that my grandma had picked out—just for me—a neon-pink slap bracelet.

Now, I realize that dudes can wear pink nowadays and it’s all hunky-dory, but in northwest Iowa, in the early ‘90s…the last thing you wanted to be sporting was a pink bracelet. A fact I discovered in very short order the very next day on the bus in what would become my first near-death experience. Okay, perhaps that’s a little drastic, but whatevs…it’s my blog.

Anywho, so I hopped on the bus, all-kinds of stoked about finally getting a slap bracelet, despite its fairly chickish hue. I figured the fact that it was “neon” pink and not “please beat the crap out of me” pink would bode well for me. Not so much. I had no more than settled into my seat on the bus and waved to Mama through the window when one of the junior high kids sat down next to me. Three or four others gathered up around my seat and I knew that I was in for some serious shit.

I could draw this out and make a big spiel about how it went down, but I’m already 350-plus words into this thing so I’ll make it short and sweet. The d-bag who sat down next to me promptly started picking on me about my pink bracelet. Being the mouthy ‘lil punk that I was (am?!); I cleverly retorted that it was, in fact, NEON pink and he should shut up and leave me alone. Needless to say he was not receptive to this suggestion and decided he’d rather rip it off my wrist, tear off the pink fabric and then—while one of the other assholes was holding my arm—smack me with the sumbitch about a hundred thousand times.

For those of you who don’t remember; slap bracelets got banned in a ton of schools after they found out people were getting sliced open by the metal strip inside. Apparently the brain-trust who created these things didn’t have the foresight to think that the cloth could ever break or be removed. Honestly, I can’t even imagine the pitch meeting for these things.

BOSS: “So Fred, rumor has it you’ve cooked up a new idea, huh?!”
FRED: “Yes, sir. It’s a slap bracelet.”
BOSS: “A slap bracelet you say?!”
FRED: “Yes…you take a piece of sharp metal, cover it with some thin, bright-colored fabric and you thwack it on your wrist so that it curls around!”
BOSS: “You slap yourself with a piece of metal?!”
FRED: “Exactly!!”
BOSS: “And the metal is sharp?!”
FRED: “Yes…but it’s covered by this thin, cheap piece of fabric!”
BOSS: “GENIUS!! Let’s start producing these things immediately!!”

Anywho, as you can probably guess by this rambling mid-story interlude…I got cut open. I bled quite a bit. In my defense, I didn’t cry…mostly because I’m a robot who rarely cries…but also because I wanted to show that prick I wasn’t going to take his shit. It seemingly worked as he and the rest of his future-parole-seeking friends wandered back to their seats blatantly disappointed they had been unsuccessful in their attempts to make a child cry.

By the time I showed up at school, my wrist had pretty much stopped bleeding so I went to the restroom, cleaned myself up and went about my day with my sweet-ass METAL slap bracelet. Tons of people thought it was bad-ass and I sure as hell wasn’t going to argue with them…or tell them that it was actually a deadly weapon that had lead to my near-death (come on…I was like eight-years old).

It wasn’t long after that that the crackdown on slap bracelets began and/or like most early-to-mid ‘90s fashions the slap bracelets just disappeared from hipness when people like me started to wear them, who knows?! All I remember is that I had one for like a month before no one was interested in them anymore.

The slap bracelet did make a mini-comeback in the early 2000s, but not to nearly the same mass appeal. Although to ensure I’ll never be the last guy to jump on that trend again; I’ve got two ‘second-era’ slap bracelets (zebra print and leopard print) sitting at my house in Iowa, just waiting for a third revival of the slap bracelet craze!!

It’s gotta happen, right?!


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