Statistics show—and as we know by now, these cannot be wrong—that Saturday is the least likely day that people like to ponder statistics. Traffic on this blog is at its lowest ebb on this day. (Wednesday is the most likely.)
Still, a millennium of poor souls stop by to say hi. For this most loyal group, I offer what we used to call the “Polish Cheer” (our town had a high proportion of people, like your author in fractional part, of Polish descent):
Hit ’em in the head
With a big kielbasa
This was sung by members of the high school pep band when the instruments went silent. I was in this band. (“What? This math-computer-logic geek was in the band? Who would have guessed?”)
You might laugh at this seemingly fangless cheer, but I put it to you: how would you like to be milked? Our cry surely struck fear into the hearts of our rivals.
I’d give the stats on wins, and thus the effectiveness of our fight song, but I was so busy blowing my bass sax and giggling at witty ditties like these, that I can’t remember whether our team won any games.
What I can recall with clarity is that we had to wear uniforms, just as the sporting fellows did. This separated us and announced our purpose. Uniforms were merely an extension of the school’s policy on dress. No jeans, shirts had to have collars, etc. Those in violation were sent home, parents were informed. As a consequence, the hallways, classrooms, and bleachers were pleasant, cheerful places to be.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the latest (de)trend in fashion is for teens to wear pajamas everywhere.
Greedy businesses, like Abercrombie & Fitch, giving no thought to their responsibilities, are encouraging this behavior by manufacturing sloppy-on-purpose clothes (for sale at high price). “A wide neck is key, says Jennifer Foyle, chief merchandising officer, because ‘girls are wanting to show their bra straps.'” Charming, charming. How nice to see what fathers have become. Yes, fathers.
The paper continues:
As with a lot of teen behavior, some adults are annoyed. In Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, which encompasses Shreveport, Commissioner Michael Williams is getting national attention for taking a stand. He plans to propose an ordinance outlawing the wearing of pajamas in public.
“The moral fiber in America is dwindling away,” Mr. Williams says. “It’s pajamas today; what is it going to be tomorrow? Walking around in your underwear?”
“Stay off my lawn! What an old man. Parents have been saying this kind of thing about their kids forever. Even the Sumerians complained about teens slacking off.” (I have a quote from an ancient Sumerian text that I can’t lay my hands on at the moment, which proves that, yes, this ancient society did in fact complain about their offspring. Once I find it, I’ll revisit this topic.)
To which I answer: where are these Sumerians? Where are the Romans? O tempora o mores! Where are all the other civilizations who complained about encroaching decadence? They are no more, that’s where. They each and every one of them failed to heed their prophets. They succumbed.
It is no counter-argument to say that because your parents complained, just as their parents before them complained, that the state of dress1 is therefore not declining. It could be, and obviously is, growing worse with every generation.
There are some areas of this fine country where all that is worn is shorts, a sloppy t-shirt, and some sort of plastic, funky foot gear. Men augment this ensemble with baseball caps. Women, depending on state of their journey toward senescence, either cinch the t-shirt tight or let it billow like a tent. The only reason this style has not triumphed completely is that winter forces extra layers.
Meaning jeans. Here is the truth of jeans. After eighteen, you look ugly in them. You might assume you cut a certain je nais se quois. You do not. You look sloppy. Even the most expensive jeans—which are designed to look as close to non-jeans as jeans can be, so why bother—-do not look nearly as good on you as you think they do.
People have forgotten one purpose of dress: to please others. You are not wearing clothing solely for yourself. You are doing it for your neighbor. Be kind to your neighbor and wear something nice.
1Or music, architecture, art, literature, movies, public discourse, etc., etc., etc.