9 bizarre things that actually happened in the '90s

7/24/2017, 6 a.m.
As we age, we tend to look back on earlier decades' culture with smug superiority.

— Yes, the "A little bit of Monica in my life ..." song. It's running through your head right now, isn't it? Sorry.

And we haven't even mentioned Vanilla Ice.

Men grew soul patches

Over the centuries, dudes have experimented with every possible permutation of facial hair. Let's be honest: By the time you are rocking a neck beard, there's pretty much nowhere left to go.

But the '90s were a special time. For some reason, guys started growing little patches of hair under their bottom lip. Howie Mandel wore one. So did Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks' rocker alter ego (yes, we'd forgotten about him, too). Kevin Costner still has one.

The "soul patch" trend actually began among jazz musicians in the 1950s -- you know, back when it was actually cool -- before being revived.

We carried pagers

Get this: Before cellphones, some people carried pagers -- also known as "beepers" -- little electronic gizmos that beeped when someone was trying to reach you. If you were paged, you would ACT LIKE YOU WERE VERY IMPORTANT and rush to the nearest payphone to call the person back.

Doctors wore them. So did drug dealers.

So, apparently, did people arranging booty calls, according to A Tribe Called Quest's song "Skypager":

The 'S' in skypage really stands for sex

Beeper's going off like Don Trump gets checks

Keep my bases loaded like the New York Mets

Ridiculously oversized jeans

Yes, JNCO jeans were briefly a thing.

These denim atrocities made bell bottoms look like skinny jeans and were the perfect wardrobe if you wanted to, say, smuggle a small family inside your clothes.

JNCO stood for "Judge None Choose One," but fashion cops did plenty of judging. Sales of the much-mocked jeans peaked in 1998 before fading. (Although GQ says they're making a comeback this year. Yeah.)

Pauly Shore was a movie star

Someday future historians will open a time capsule buried in 1996, watch "Bio-Dome" and shudder in horror while wondering how American society did not implode.

The mostly unfunny Pauly Shore somehow parlayed his Kenny G hair and his surfer-speak schtik into a brief film career -- "Encino Man," "Son in Law" -- that fizzled when each of his movies earned less money than the last.

By 2003, he was spoofing his fading celebrity in a mockumentary, "Pauly Shore is Dead." It grossed $11,000. Ouch.

We all worried for nothing about Y2K

Remember in the late '90s when we were warned a calendar programming glitch might crash the World Wide Web on January 1, 2000, hurtling the planet into chaos?

Clocks would roll back, banks would lose people's money, the electric grid would fail and planes would drop out of the sky.

Even Prince prophesized it would be so!

Then 2000 dawned, and ... almost nothing happened.

Some people woke up on January 1 and seemed almost disappointed that everything was pretty much the same.

But hey, at least the '90s were over.