A trio of African American youths walked by, their jeans slung low on their hips, the bright hue of their boxer shorts on display. Just like everyone else on the street, they were just going somewhere. A white woman at my side stared holes into the youths before snarling, “Pull your pants up!”

Saggy pants is an issue that is driving a segment of America crazy. It’s a baffling mystery. The United States ranks 24th in the world for literacy and 33rd for Internet speed, but the metric that concerns many white people most is saggy pants. 

Arguing the benefits of pants worn dangerously on the verge of sinking to your ankles is a Herculean chore. I’ve never understood the appeal. But then again, my generation wore parachute pants, shirts branded by Coca-Cola, and jeans with holes purposely ripped at the knees. Who am I to judge?

Gang associations may be an excuse to pass judgement, but then again, we didn’t seem to mind that regrettable, biker-gang inspired Ed Hardy trend.  And quite honestly, the kids that offended the middle-aged lady weren’t giving off a gangland vibe. They were certainly better behaved than her.

What rankled this lady? The absurd discomfort of the fashion? The immodesty of exposed underwear? Furthermore, why did it matter so much? These kids were strangers. They passed soliciting no provocation. And yet, this woman was so offended she felt compelled to advise the teenagers on how to wear their pants. How might have she responded if the teens had sneered, “Do you realize you’re wearing a man’s windbreaker?”

Which she was.

 

 

 

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  1. “Hi. I’m Dr. Ben Dover. Take off your pants.”