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If you’re like me, you ignore the expiration dates on foods and medicines. Cough medicine from back when Seinfeld was in its fifth season? Take an extra teaspoonful. Frozen broccoli encased in a block of ice? Grab a pick. A box of Twinkies from the apartment you moved out of a decade ago?  Don’t worry; they’ll still taste the same.

Of course the expiration date is worth heeding in the case of one food substance: milk.  Spoiled milk is vile. Fortunately, even if you’re foolish enough to ignore the expiration date, there are other telltale signs of spoilage. If you smell it first, you’re usually clued in to its rancidity. Or, you could wait for someone else to take a sip first and they spit it out, you know it’s time to go shopping for a new carton. 

Or, if you’re a certain type of person (royalty or just someone who wants to be treated thusly), you could smell the milk first, and, if its drinkability is hard to determine, ask someone else to taste it. (Of course only a certain type of person agrees to such a request.)

Then there are the things that don’t come with an expiration date but really should, like stupid trends. Maybe there should be a burial ground for them, much like the graveyard in Waterbury, Vermont for discontinued Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors (Peanut Butter & Jelly, Ms. Jelena’s Sweet Potato Pie, and Coffee! Coffee! Buzz Buzz Buzz to name a few).

Some stupid trends and trendy products fortunately die a natural death (Baby on Board signs and shoulder pads in women’s blouses and dresses and the saying “talk to the hand”), but others live on and on and on, defying the norms of good taste or logic. Here are ten current trends that must be stamped with an expiration date…hopefully today’s date.

1. Fascination with people who have lots and lots and lots of children.
Octomom, Jon and Kate, Brad and Angelina spring to mind.  Having a really, really large family doesn’t usually make parents fascinating, it just makes them stressed.

2. Derogatory terms for women that have no counterpart in the language for men. 
It was bad enough with “bitch” and “slut” but now there’s “cougar” too?  How come when a woman dates a much younger man she’s a predatory jungle animal but when a man dates a much younger woman he’s just lucky?

3. Women dating men who are notorious abusers.
Doesn’t it seem strange that so many fabulous women have a hard time finding a decent guy to go out with, yet Drew Peterson, OJ, and Phil Spector had no trouble attracting the ladies? 

4. Movie or television characters coming back as apparitions to haunt the living girlfriend or boyfriend.
The concept seemed fresh in the movie Ghost, but guess what?  That was nearly 20 years ago! Grey’s Anatomy should have given up the ghost on this storyline last season.

5. Covering a greater proportion of your body with tattoos than not. 
Other than the members of the Blue Man Group or someone suffering from a lack of oxygen, no one should be more blue than flesh-toned.

6. TV doctors and nurses with a drug addiction.
I’ll watch anything with Edie Falco in it, but really, weren’t the creators of Nurse Jackie aware of a television drama featuring an ornery doctor with a dependence on pain meds, namely House?

7. Calling things by what they’re made of rather than what they are. 
It’s not a film, it’s a movie.  It’s not a vinyl, it’s a record.

8. Male celebrities thinking their bad hair makes them iconic. 
What’s up with Conan’s crazy swirl, Donald Trump’s sparrow’s nest, and Andy Rooney’s inch-long eyebrows?  Bring back Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, pronto!

9. Female celebrities denying they’ve had any “work” done. 
If you’re tempted to ask “does she or doesn’t she?”, keep it simple and assume she does.

10. Paying attention to Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, or Dick Cheney. 
‘Nuf said.

In her "Vox Pop" column for PopMatters Meta voices her observations about pop culture, particularly as it intersects with our lives. She is endlessly fascinated by the myriad ways in which our pop culture choices reflect back on us -- our beliefs, our desires, our idiosyncrasies, our intellects. Wagner's published pieces include written commentaries, features, and profiles for Salon, Boston Globe Magazine, Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, and other publications. You can visit her blog here. When she's not writing, Meta is molding young minds as an adjunct professor at Emerson College, where she teaches creative writing. She also developed and occasionally teaches a column-writing class at Grub Street, an independent writing center in Boston.

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