Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Short Pants

I don't wear a lot of shorts. Every once in a while this gets pointed out to me. There are those among my friends who see it as kind of an ongoing challenge. They proselytize. They cajole. I remain unmoved. I live in Texas, and the weather here, particularly during the summer, heavily suggests semi- if not outright nudity as the only sane mode of presentation, yet I persevere.

When pressed for a justification, I tend to get a little peevish, and when I'm feeling especially mean-spirited, I might say, "I'm not a child," which is a shitty thing to say to your well-meaning, accomplished, grownup friend who is standing right in front of you, wearing shorts. Most of the time, though, I just smile or grumble, depending, and kind of dodge the issue. Well, now, thanks to the New York Times Magazine, I can just refer people to this incredibly bitchy think-piece that outlines every possible rationale for wholesale shorts avoidance:

He's Got Legs

Patterson dares to be much cattier than I could ever manage about the subject, meanwhile providing a pretty thorough history of pants length throughout the past couple of centuries. It's a fascinating read, and I was kind of amazed to come across it. For once I didn't feel like a trouserial iconoclast. There are others out there!

I wasn't always shorts averse. In my high school days, regardless of the arena, I garbed myself almost exclusively for the beach. Witness:

(Extra points if you noticed the
Spuds Mackenzie poster in the bg.) 
The dress code at my high school stipulated only that the hem of one's shorts not rise more than six inches above the knee. Eton it was not. Somewhere exists photographic evidence from those days of a pair of Jams unmistakably occupying my person. If you want to see that one, you're on your own.

Then I moved to Rhode Island. Sure, it gets hot in Rhode Island. I definitely wore shorts there on more than one occasion, but when a place gets a foot of snow dropped on it the second week of April, two weeks after my home beach of South Padre Island's monthlong cavalcade of barely clad spring breakers has already vamoosed back to campus, leaving a wake of discarded Bartles and Jaymes 4-pack holders and vomit-filled jacuzzis, you're probably best off keeping those knees hidden from the elements.

I don't know when the shorts forsaking became a personal mandate, but I think it was around the turn of the century. Motivations are open to speculation, but I know mosquitoes contributed to the reasoning. There were doubtless aesthetic considerations as well. I've noticed that rockers rarely sport them (When was the last time you saw a photo of a bare-legged Keith Richards?). Skaters and hardcore punks are a different story. Cargo shorts abound. At some point, I made a semi-conscious transition from the style choices of the latter to those of the former. And there I stayed. (I actually touched on this phenomenon in a piece I wrote a while ago in Tribeza. Here it is, if you're interested):

Sympathy for the Devil Who Wears Prada

Once I stopped, I never really went back. At a certain point age imbues a certain ridiculousness unto a mode of dress essentially designed for children. At least in my case. I still don the short pants for appropriate occasions. For me, that's athletics and swimming. And nothing else. People still try to bring me over to their side. But now I can just forward them this post and know this secret: Last summer, I used a gift card from my mother-in-law to acquire a pair of gray J. Crew lightweight chino club shorts with a 9" inseam that I plan to wear only for vacations or picnicking, mosquitoes be damned. Until then, I'll see you around town in my black jeans and Adidas Superstars, the way God intended.

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