Monday, June 25, 2012

Pull Up Your Pants! or Why I Chose Not to Become a Proctologist

Nobody wants to become a curmudgeon: "Mah! Kids today...with their clothes and their hair..." We are, however, here in America, in a place that makes it difficult.

I don't know how it is in other countries, but, here, there is a trend related to the wearing of pants. Young men (and, sometimes, young women, I'm told) wear their pants around the hips or lower, exposing some or all of their underwear. It used to be only a select group of the younger set, but, lately, it seems more common to see a young man with his pants slung either lowishly or even below his buttocks, his underwear completely exposed.

Where'd this come from?

When I was a kid, there were a lot of musical, playground sing-songy teasings of: "Hee, hee -- I can see your underwear." One lived in fear if one sat in rows in front of others. One pulled down the back of one's shirt compulsively. I don't know. Maybe, one day, someone said: "I'm not gonna take any more," and yanked those babies down in the lunchroom to do a defiant table-top dance among the plastic trays. If so, kudos to the brave fourth grader -- the Thomas Paine of pants.

Nah -- alas, it ain't so. It did begin in prisons --  not, according to Snopes, as an invitation for casual sex with other inmates, but as a result of ill-fitting prison garb and the lack of belts therein. (The lack of belts, of course, is a result of the ban on interior decorating in cells. Wardens hate when prisoners hang things from the ceilings and bars, especially themselves. I can see why. It's really quite gauche.)

Anyhoo, now kids are walking around not just with the tops of their underwear exposed, but with their entire unmentionable-clad posteriors soaking up the light of day. This is absurd, of course. Ridiculous. I have gone on record as a great defender of the American teenager, but I would like to take this opportunity to kick these kids out of the club.

I know it is not clinical or even logical, but I have to posit the theory that anyone who wears his pants like this must be a moron. And I am not in the habit of defending morons. (One of my friends on Facebook once said: "And some day, these kids will be running the country." I seriously doubt that.)

My personal curmudgeonly opinion aside, I do have to ask one question: Are there not still laws about "indecent exposure"
in the United States? -- because here is the ever-lovin' mother of all toppers: Friday last, I was driving home from school and a young genius was outside of a store pulling up weeds. He pants were slung with the belt halfway between his knees and hips. His grey-clad rear-end was exposed to passing motorists. This is absurd enough, but there was a hole of no less than four inches in diameter in the locale of the right buttock.

I won't disgust you with a further description of the sight that, even at the speed of fifty-miles-per-hour, was impossible to miss. Let is suffice to say that I nearly wept. I feel violated, if you must know. There is a reason I chose not to become a proctologist and, while I never had the need to articulate it before, I think it had something to do with not wanting to inspect the rear-ends of strangers. But at least proctologists get paid handsomely for their daily inconvenience. I don't expect to be forced to perform arse evaluations for free. I believe men are endowed with an inalienable right to not see the butts of other men.

What do I want? I demand an arrest. This style is indecent exposure. Isn't it? As a protest, I am considering mowing my front lawn in my underwear in order to see what happens. It may not be the best career move for someone in the teaching profession, but someone has to take a stand.


  1. Chris: Being a decade or so older than you, I may have you beat when it comes to curmudgeonliness. Ah, I long for the "old days"! When I was growing up in a suburb of Minneapolis in the mid-Sixties, our elementary school (a public school, mind you) required the boys to keep their shirts tucked in. The hall monitors (do they still have those?), in addition to watching out for those who ran in the halls, were instructed to warn all those whose shirts were untucked to straighten up and fly right.

    Yes, I know that modern educators and social scientists will likely say that I was raised in an intolerant, overly strict, repressed Midwestern/Scandinavian culture, which turned me into an intolerant, overly strict, repressed adult. Oh well. I still think that people should pull up their pants.

  2. Stephen -- thanks for attneding this meeting of the Curmudgeonly Club! You know, though -- this is just really over the top; I'm only half joking about it being an issue of indecent exposure. Along the lines of old-fashioned ideas, I have to say that, often, it seems to me, what passes for unecessarily strict is often a vehicle for individualism. When I started teaching in a Catholic school, for instance, after years of having attended public school myself, I thought uniforms were a suppression of individual expression. I came to see it as just the opposite, over the years. In a school uniform situation, kids are forced to BE individuals -- to achieve or to express themselves in new ways with their actions and words. They can't rely on wearing a T-shirt with a hard core band on it to show the world what a "badass" they are; they can't pierce their eyebrows or dye their mowhawk hair purple. They must BE different. In fact, I find, when I teach college classes, that my students at Rutgers seem boring compared to my kids in the high school. They sparkle on the outside and fizzle on the inside, lots of times.

    Thanks again for stipping by, Stephen. Always a pleasure.