|picture taken today by Joyce Dyer|
May 24, 2016
Today was the first day since last fall that I donned my shorts and sandals (new ones, thank you; Birkenstock, thank you; on sale at DSW, thank you; gift cards, thank you). I love this day--right up there with the first day of the year that I can get back on my bike and head off to mail a letter (remember them?), get a haircut, go to the coffee shop.
I did not have much of a boyhood history with shorts. Oddly, though I grew up in infernal Oklahoma and Texas (until I was about to turn twelve), my friends and I didn't wear shorts. The schools proscribed them, and it was just not fashionable for boys to wear them. Levi's were the mode. After all, we were all future cowboys (I knew that I would soon be riding alongside Hopalong Cassidy and/or my other TV heroes). So even in the fiercest heat--sometimes about 110--my friends and I were tough, like Hoppy, the Lone Ranger, the Ranger Rider, none of whom we ever saw in shorts.
I don't recall wearing them during later boyhood in Hiram, Ohio, either, though my cowboy dreams had faded by then, and I was now positive that I would be catching for the Tribe, playing guard for the Celtics (there were no Cavs then--unthinkable).
But later on, one of my father's most insidious genes (the Sweat Gene) declared itself ruler of my summer days, and soon I was wearing shorts pretty much every day in the summer. (And many days in the spring and fall.) Still do.
I can't say that my mom has been thrilled with my summer wardrobe choices. Two stories.
- Out in Oregon for a Dyer family reunion (1990?), we were all staying in a motel just across the Oregon-Washington border in Walla Walla (near where my dad grew up). There was going to be a family picnic at my uncle John's house--scores of Dyers would be there. (Dad had about a dozen sibs.) As Joyce, Steve, and I walked over to Mom and Dad's room, she saw me (be-shorted) and said, "You're not wearing that, are you?) Note: I was in my mid-forties at the time. Mom, it's a picnic ... I began, but I could tell that I was really annoying her. So back I went with son Steve (about 18 at the time) to change into jeans (also not my mother's favorite--but I have standards!). I was not happy and uttered some grievous execrations in our room. And, of course, at the picnic everyone was in shorts or jeans. Except Steve and me..
- When my mom moved into her stages-of-care place in Lenox, MA (Dad died in 1999), oh, 2006-ish, she did not like seeing me (or my younger brother) wearing shorts (or jeans) when I came to visit. She told me (a lie) that they would not seat me in the dining hall--they always do.
Okay, another quick story ...
- In the spring of 1999 I was in Naples, Italy, and one of my destinations was the summit of Mt. Vesuvius; the day I was going to do the hike, it was very warm, so ... shorts. I rode the train to the base of the mountain, having walked a ways through Naples first. And all along the way--on the sidewalks, on the train--Italian men pointed and snickered and made, I assume, jokes. I also assume they had something to do with my manhood. And I noticed that no other man was wearing shorts, not in the entire city? (Oklahoma, 1954?) But I, confident in my solid masculinity, strode on, right to that gorgeous summit, then endured more ridicule on the way home (grateful, of course, that I possessed only a few key words in Italian).
I suppose there will come a day when pride and modesty (and shame?) will prevent me from wearing shorts. There will come a time, I know, when I will once again feel I'm in Naples, only this time I will understand every single word of derision/disgust/etc.
But for now? I'm wearing shorts, damn it! Deal with it!
**PS--the light cotton sweater I'm wearing in the pic ... it was a little cool this morning; I'll get rid of it later today.