Originally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 2005
FROM HIGH SCHOOL shop classes to construction sites, fashion critics wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots have long cast a disdainful eye on shorts and sandals. And sadly, San Francisco, in many ways an open-minded city, perpetuates that distaste. Wearing white after Labor Day seems as dashing as sporting an Armani suit when compared to wearing flip-flops in the foggy city. Not only do most San Franciscans choose not to wear shorts, but my experience has been that they patently disapprove of those who do: an aberration in the city’s live-and-let-live attitude.
To experience the city’s scorn firsthand, I put on my gold mesh shorts, manufactured from the same material as the liners of swimming trunks, and revealed my pale, hairy legs and knobby knees. I had carefully selected a pair of boxers that would look good through all the evenly spaced mesh holes in the fabric. My snaggletoothed toenails hung over the edge of my Baywatch-brand flip-flops, a toe-flossing pair decorated with an earth-tone, faux Indian motif. On my T-shirt in puffy-paint bas-relief was an image of a red deck chair on a strip of shoreline, with, beside it, an enormous nautilus shell that, disobeying all logical proportion, dwarfs the seagull flying above it. Could I be the flint to ignite the stored potential energy of charcoal gray power suits into the kinetic colors of summer-fun beachwear?