There’s a meme out there telling folks to stop wearing cargo shorts. My Response: Hey fashion world, you know why I wear cargo shorts? Because it’s warm out. And I have cargo. Why do I have cargo? Because of you.
Yes, you. Blame yourself, sartorial contempos. It’s not like I’m listening to anything you have to say, but you’re the ones telling my wife and daughter to wear yoga pants or miniskirts or other unpocketed garments leaving them entirely unequipped for modern living.
In case you are too busy purposefully striding six-abreast around Milan with a bunch of wax-chested rentboys, let it be known that here in the actual 21st century one can’t take a simple stroll through the city center without giant smartphones, water bottles forged from aerospace quality tensile steel, packets of Lactaid, a wad of plastic cards the size of a car battery, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, energy bars in case someone gets “hangry” and a massive inhaler resonant of something my hippie college roommate would roll out for “Bootleg Friday” on our college radio station. (When the doctor gave this woodwind-sized thing to my daughter I asked, “Don’t you have one shaped like a skull? She did not laugh.)
By comparison my grandparents landed in this country with less crap than we have to carry on a three hour visit to the Peabody Essex Museum and absolutely no one else is wearing clothing capable of bearing even a fraction of this burden. Thus my thighs have become the family minivan of clothing, except that my wife and daughter get to zip around in cute little convertibles while I follow up in the “support-vehicle.”
To be clear, this is not a male/female comparison. This is a “fashionista v. utilitarian” one. I know chicks who wear cargo pants. I have met female drone engineers with such cool stuff in their shorts that if I were to say, “I want to get into your pants” I would literally only mean just that. In their bulging side pockets lurk the latest fight controllers, tiny infrared cameras, and crazy-lightweight high-performance motors. Also my personal fetish item, the Leatherman multitool. You know, one of those pliers/knives/drivers/nailfile/peppermill combo deals. Laugh away Clamuniards, but I carry one all the time I’m not in TSA controlled space.
Why? For the same reason I wear cargo shorts, because I hate being unequipped. I was at a poetry reading at the Cantab when as screw fell out of the microphone stand during an adjustment. The MC looked up at the audience in horror, asking rhetorically, “No one has a screwdriver…right?” The crowd reeled as if someone at a Morrisey show had requested a slab of panda jerky. I, however, dug my trusty multiplier out of one of my many conveniently placed pockets, strode past my tweed and sundress bedecked fellow audience members to set the mic back to rights. I’m sure now there is sonnet titled “Trousers of Majesty” in a well-worn Moleskine notebook somewhere.
Unlike jorts, cut off sweats, plaid Vineyard Vines golf numbers with little whales on them or jumbo athletic shorts absurdly dangling down to mid-calf, cargo shorts ask to be defined on practical terms rather than style. Furthermore, I don’t really want to hear any bullshit along the lines of, “you shouldn’t wear them if you don’t need them for work.” Really? Fantastic. Tell me where I can pick up your SUV, North Face jacket, those running shoes you’re walking around in, and the backpack with the little sewn loops as if you were going to be hauling your Macbook Pro up Gollum Right on El Capitan. We use overpowered and utility-designed stuff in regular life all the time. Cargo shorts are suddenly where we draw the line?
Everywhere I go schlebs are wearing Pat’s jackets to funerals, visors backwards and track suits with gold chains (what we used to call a “Southie Tuxedo”). It seems like cargo shorts might be down the priority list of fashion faux pas to be called out. For instance: The leading contender for the GOP nomination wears white shoes, a brown belt, and a golf hat on the campaign trail making him look more like a mid-level bookie than one of the ten richest people in the country.
Until someone figures out how to build a wall keeping out the real fashion offenders, let me reach down to my left thigh and produce a generous pocketfull of “bite me” to the cargo-shorts haters.
Oh, does that make you cry? No problem. I have tissues.