Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fashionably Unfashionable

I'm just not a fashionable guy. Until very recently I wore a fanny pack. I still wear argyle socks, though I've been told they are in fashion again. But I never knew they were in or out; I just like them.

Over the past weekend, I was told by family that my jeans were out of date. My blue ones have the thick loop on the left. I guess you call them painter's pants. I looked like an oversized Bob the Builder when I wore them.

Miguel said to me, "Dad, some guy from the 80s called. He wants his jeans back."

My black jeans? My sister-in-law said they look great...if I lived in the 70s. My co-workers, who saw me in them out of work, were convinced they were sweatpants, with a dark sheen.

But the accessory that elicited the most comments and insults was the fanny pack. I'd worn my 'man purse' since the 80s because it was a convenient place to hold my keys, sunglass case, wallet, mesh grocery bags, and change (as in coins).

However, two of my co-workers made it their daily responsibility to chide me and poke fun at me mercilessly in public or private. They'd laugh as soon as I entered the building and point at my fanny pack as if were carrying 8-track tapes, videocassettes, or posters of Milli Vanilli.

The female co-worker went so far to say that she would never even date a guy who wore a fanny pack. In an effort to prove to her that a majority of women I know prefer substance over style, I randomly selected 12 friends and posed the question, Would you date a guy who wore a fanny pack?

I know the sample was unscientific, but I was curious how this dozen would respond. One friend, married, whom I've known for at least 15 years wrote, "Honestly, I have never thought about whether or not a fanny pack diminishes a man's allure or manliness. But if we are talking about superficial first impressions, I look at the shoes, jeans and shirt. There is nothing more eye catching and attractive than a 50-year old man who knows how to dress. My co-worker says women love messenger bags."

Another friend and neighbor, at whose wedding I officiated in 2005, said, "As much as I love people 'being themselves'...I would NEVER date a guy that wore a fanny pack."

And another friend, a single mom of a two-year-old said, "I briefly dated a fanny pack user, hid it, offered to carry it for him, offered bribes, anything to stop him!! And to this day my friends and I laugh about those times. You must say goodbye to the fanny pack!"

Three friends did say it didn't matter. But of the nine who responded, five said, "Ditch the fanny pack."

I may prefer substance over style, but I am sensitive to how others perceive and also see me. So I ditched the fanny pack. And found myself this past weekend with my sister-in-law at Kohl's buying two pairs of jeans that finally rushed me into the 21st century after I'd tossed five pairs of pants, one ancient suit, and three shirts into a bag for Goodwill. Faded blue or stonewashed black jeans are fashionable. Relics from high school and early college are not.

I'd like to say the new apparel is liberating (but I haven't worn either pair of jeans or the new shirt my sister-in-law badgered me into buying), however, I am still in mourning for my fanny pack. Grieving for a small bag that wraps around my waist may not be fashionable, but it is how I am coping for now.

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