On my commute to work, I travel five delightful miles through what is commonly considered “the hood.” The route is decorated with chicken wing bones, discarded carryout boxes and cups, and blue plastic grocery bags that blow down the street like non-biodegradeable tumbleweeds. In fact, this one time, my baby sister (clarification: she’s my baby sister because she’s the youngest, not because she’s actually a baby) came to visit me and I took her to my office at night after realizing I’d left some very important paperwork on my desk. We stopped at a red light in the heart of the
hood. It was an intersection where the large, gray, steel train tracks were just overhead and thanks to the street lights, they were casting long, ominous shadows making the lines of row homes on each side of the street (most of them boarded up) seem even more abandoned and drearier than usual. There was a small group of men who stood uneasily at the corner, while the blue plastic grocery bags tumbled along the streets, and a feral cat (or possibly an over-sized sewer rat) scurried stealthily through the intersection. It may help to know that my sweet littlest sister has spent the better part of her existence living in either Southern Maryland, Eastern North Carolina, or Southeastern Georgia. No, silly. She’s not a tobacco farmer. I glanced over at her as she peered out the windshield and I swear her eyes were the size of serving platters. Marty Feldman’s eyes weren’t ever that big. I’m fairly certain you could see the whites all the way around. Blink…Blink… Blink-blink. She looked at me with an expression that only a sister could read. The look said I’m-not-gonna-start-screaming-or-anything-like-that-but-I-am-seriously-freaking-the-hell-out-right-now-and-think-we-could-possibly-get-killed. And then as calmly as she could muster, she said, “Jesus Christ. This is how scary movies start!”
How right you are, baby sister. Every day of my damn life.
But I digress.
In addition to the glorious scenery I get to take in daily, I also get to see some remarkable sites of the human form. Most of the time, I am so late for work (like, every single morning — “honey, hit the snooze button just one more time…”) and should be rushing along to get to my desk as quickly as possible. But to let you in on a little secret, usually I’m more than happy to miss a traffic light so I can stop and take it all in. Lots of good people watching on the street corners in the hood. We’re talking women with Ronald McDonald-style red wigs. Girls in lots of really tight stretchy outfits
that show off all their business — my favorite is the really big girls who do this. Think Precious meets Catwoman (based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire) . Crazy people shouting profanities at no one in particular. Trust me when I tell you, I am taking in each and every look like Anna Wintour at a fashion week runway show! Here’s what I’ve noticed lately. Brace yourselves. This is big. It seems (fingers crossed) that the trend for men of wearing their jeans about 16 inches below their ass cheeks has finally come to an end. Can I get a collective “Hallelujah?!” Really. Who came up with that? And why? Who said, “Since the Kriss Kross backwards clothing craze has finally died down, you know what would look totally cool? Let’s take a pair of oversized jeans and only pull them up to our thighs. It’ll be great. Everyone will see your underwear, but you can wear a long oversized shirt to cover that up so you’ll just end up looking like a Corgi –and who doesn’t love a dog with stubby little legs?!? Oh, and sure the pants will constantly be falling down and most of us are going to look like we took a major shit in our pants, but don’t worry. It’s gonna look totally fresh.” How could something so stupid and impractical have lasted for THAT long?? Thankfully, most of the boys, teens, and men I see along my travels these days have their pants at the hip, belted, and somewhat fitted as opposed to the über baggy style that might lead one to believe they are smuggling an entire city block in the crotch of their pants –hold on, I know I have a Section 8 apartment complex down in here somewhere. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still a fair share of late adopters who are clinging to their saggy assed pants like Kate hung onto Leo in the frozen waters after Titanic sank. I picture these dudes waking up every morning and grabbing their pants at the waistband and gazing at the oversized denim saying, “I’ll never let go.” But eventually Kate pried herself off Leo’s frozen corpse and I’m sure eventually these guys will give up their ass-saggers and embrace a new style — even if their heart for the saggy pants will go on and on. Damn you, Céline!!
But in thinking about the stunted evolution of these men, I can’t help but feel some empathy…
And now I present unto you a story of my high school days.
Ah, the grandeur of the late 1980′s!! Shoulder pads. Sky high hair. Ridiculously horrible perms. Acid washed jeans. I don’t know whether I should take a moment for nostalgic reflection, or curl up into the fetal position and rock myself. For any of you young ones reading this, I’m about to drop some store names here, but it’s not going to be the same as what you know today. So don’t get all, “Oh, I know THAT store.” No. You don’t. You never will. Because it’s NOT the same as it used to be. Places like The Gap, Banana Republic, Lerner, and The Limited had the clothes I felt like I had to have — in every color and print. And total sidebar: do y’all remember when you’d walk into Banana Republic and feel like you’d instantly teleported into the middle of some South American jungle expedition?!? Talk about a major brand overhaul. But anyway, I’d spend all this money on printed blouses with weird triple buttons and peter pan collars, and pants with weird pleats in front — and don’t even get me started on the 14-inch zipper and what ultimately amounted to an Urkel-height waistline. Ah, those were the days. And then the pièce de résistance: pegging the cuff of the pants leg!! Looking back, the pegged pants leg truly was my version of saggy-assed jeans. It was stupid, impractical, and lasted way too long. I pegged every pair of pants I could: denim, khakis, sweatpants, pajama bottoms. You name it, I pegged it. And I could never get the peg tight enough (c’mon girls, I know you know what I’m talking about). I was always redoing them to get them tighter. I wasn’t satisfied until my toes were turning purple from lack of circulation. It was ALOTTA LOOK! I remember when I went to my freshman year of college in 1990. It was clear that the pegged pants fad was, if not already over, then quickly on its way out. I clung to my pegs!! I was single-handedly going to carry this “style” through my college years. It wasn’t until I finally accepted that pegged jeans had gone the way of some of my other favorite 80′s fashions (neon, leg-warmers, and banana clips) that I finally decided to give the straight leg a try. It definitely took some getting used to, but I can’t imagine going back to anything that looks that unflattering…thank the sweet baby Jesus. What’s that you say? Skinny jeans?!?! Sigh. Anyhoo, I’m pretty sure that the poor dudes still not ready to let go of their saggy assed jeans will see the light. And it won’t be a moment too soon, ’cause I hear The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s denim overalls look is making a huge comeback this season!