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Winter Shorts Guy

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I thought I noticed a slow evolution, but now, several weeks into November, it seems the transformation is complete: I've become Winter Shorts Guy. Yup, Winter Shorts Guy, that variety of North American male who dresses like it's always summer all the time.

Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night stays Winter Shorts Guy from baring his pale, fleshy, goose-pimpled legs 12 months a year. Even Perpetually Embarrassed Wife can't get Winter Shorts Guy to leave the house in seasonally appropriate attire.

So strong has my proclivity for year-round shorts wearing become, that Perpetually Embarrassed Wife (in this case, my own perpetually embarrassed wife) has lately become Exasperated Concession Lady. As long they're not ratty mesh lacrosse shorts - which trap odor like nobody's business - I'm free to wear shorts to most events, even if I've slept in them the night before.

Let me put it another way: she'll ask me to wear pants to Thanksgiving dinner, but she won't insist.

Now, I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm not tough, nor do I think I'm tough (there's a difference). I simply find pants confining. They stifle my creativity, and I work in an office with an extremely relaxed dress code. In fact, it's my home office, which means I can work naked if I want. I mean, I don't - the desk chair's made of vinyl, which really sticks to the skin - but I could.

The other thing is, I now find myself with home office-mates, "family members," you might call them: my wife, on maternity leave for the next nine weeks, and our three-week-old son. Now, the moment more than one person occupies a space, there's going to be discord about the temperature of that space - especially if the people are of different sexes (and one's a newborn).

While I usually avoid sweeping generalizations, in my experience, women and infants enjoy heat. It's not a value judgment, just an observation. And it makes sense. They tend to be smaller and smaller people tend to be colder.

Of course, this doesn't take into account my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, who, though barely 30 pounds, strips down to underwear and runs around the deck barefoot every time it snows.

Still, every full-grown woman I've ever met prefers her atmosphere substantially hotter than mine. In college, I once had this teeny-tiny girlfriend who lived in a teeny-tiny studio she kept at 90 degrees (there was a thermometer). I don't think I got one hour of sleep that whole summer, and not for any good reasons. We had no choice but to break up. Also, her guinea pig died and she felt I wasn't mournful enough.

My wife, on the other hand, can live with the thermostat set to a much more tolerable 75, a big part of why I married her (also she had no pets). Even at 75, she'll get cold, but she's willing to put on a Slanket and deal; at 75, I'm perpetually hot, but I'm willing to put on shorts and deal. Relationships are based on such willingness to deal.

Of course, there are some sartorial lines I still refuse to cross. For instance, I won't clip any type of handheld electronic device to my belt. Nor will I wear a fanny pack, not even ironically. In the same way, I can't wear socks with shorts. That's way too Two Car Seats in the Back of a Station Wagon Guy, and I just can't be that guy, even though I technically am that guy.

For that reason, becoming Winter Shorts Guy also forces me to become Winter Flip-Flops Man. Even I can see the idiocy of flip-flops in the winter, and yet, it'll take at least one solid wipe-out on ice - which hurts a lot more on bare legs - before I bite the bullet and break out the boots (sockless, of course). Although, I did spend this past summer nailing metal studs into the soles of my imitation Crocs ("Rics," they're called). I'll let you know how that works.

There's more. Because I can't very well wear a parka with shorts, either - I mean, I wouldn't want to look ridiculous - that leaves me with one choice for outerwear. So now I'm now also Puffy Vest Dude.

And I have to say, I'm not sure I get the point of puffy vests. They're not warm or waterproof. Your arms sort of just hang out. The pockets - shallow and sloping - are a lost set of keys waiting to happen. Come to think of it, my puffy vest isn't really good for anything, aside from letting me know I should go easier on the Tillamook Mudslide if I'd like to be able to zip it.

What's the point of all this, you ask? I'm not sure, actually. It's just a little something mindless to think about for five minutes. Nothing wrong with that.

But if there is a point, I think it's this: I'd rather be Winter Shorts Guy, Winter Flip-Flops Man and Puffy Vest Dude than Obnoxious Newbie iPhone User, which I'm also dangerously close to becoming.

Of course, that's a whole other line of narcissistic deconstructionist rambling, entirely.

• Kirsch's "Slack Tide" appears every other Wednesday. Check out more of his work at www.geoffkirsch.com.



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