July 20, 2003

Street Farts

The fashion police have arrived in my neighborhood. They have chosen this summer as a time to review my entire wardrobe.

It will not take them long. I have a friend who has a great changeover of her summer and winter clothes in her closet and bureau. I have no need for that. I can barely fill the space I have with my entire wardrobe.

My closet does have arrangement. A few pair of pants and then a long line of t-shirts hang neatly. These are my short sleeve summer dress t-shirts, as opposed to my short sleeve summer anytime t-shirts which are scrunched into one corner of a drawer. My winter t-shirts are in there too. Any piece of clothing worn under something else does not deserve a hanger.

Further down at the end of my closet, which you have to stretch and stumble to get to, is my “almost never” wardrobe. A dark suit for weddings and funerals. A navy blazer for weddings and funerals of people that I do not know well. A few shirts with collars to wear to weddings and funerals. And three ties to cover all seasons of, well, weddings and funerals.

My real wardrobe challenge this summer has been about socks. Socks are a much neglected item in a man’s wardrobe. Specifically, I am having trouble with my white socks. Since I only wear dress shoes at, well, you know where, I mostly wear athletic shoes. In the United States a male must wear white socks with athletic shoes. I think it is a law or maybe even in the Constitution. I cannot tell you what a faux pas it is to wear dark socks with tennis shoes. Just go up to Old Orchard Beach in Maine and watch all those French Canadian men prancing around in dark socks. It hurts the eyes! It jars one’s sensibilities!

But even after I get the color right, there remains the question of length. When I was growing up in the fifties, there was only one length: long. Women wore these little shoe liner things, maybe called peds. But real men wore high, white socks.

Around 1980 I played in a gold tournament with Brother #2 in Florida. He and his friends all had on those little peds. I can recall vividly how much fun he and his friends had ridiculing my high white socks for the entire weekend. I of course knew how superior my socks were to their sissy socks, but their remarks made an imprint.

As our culture moved forward, sock rules changed. Golf and the running boom moved the tops of socks lower. I like to fit in and I have adapted. I do not wear those silly peds, but I do wear low cut, heavy, manly socks.

However, I do have one little quirk. I like to wear these socks with my sandals. I just do not like the feel of sandal on my feet. It is sticky. Rocks get caught in there. Ouch! Socks with Birkenstocks is definitely counter cultural.

My other brother, Brother #1, takes great glee whenever he catches me in my socks and sandals routine. Fortunately he also lives in Florida so I do not have to be the brunt of his comments too often. But he got me to thinking. Maybe I was going too far with this protect the feet thing.

This year I decided to initiate a bold experiment. I would go sockless with sandals. It felt alright for awhile – for about a hundred yards. Then the bottom of my feet started to heat up and stick to the sandals. And then my right foot started making this sound. I was mortified. My feet were farting! I was looking for street smarts and all I got was street farts!

The experiment ended quickly. I have decided to grow up and stick by my guns or at least by my socks. I am old enough to choose my wardrobe without fear of ridicule. At least if I am not in Florida. And my walks are much quieter.

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