The other day, as I walked into the local CVS Pharmacy, I was floored by a 95-ish year old man dressed in size small, orange satin/spandex, booty shorts emblazoned with a shiny University of Illinois logo across the derriere. I stared; I gawked; I choked on my gum in utter amazement at this cheerleader attire clad relic as he trudged toward the counter, hopefully in search of skin firming cream, if he was going to wear those shorts very often.
“What,” I wondered, “would possess this respectable senior to choose such revealing britches” (as Southerners call them). His accompanying t-shirt and jacket were perfectly acceptable. I say “acceptable” as if I, myself, have written the clothing etiquette guide for the entire population of U.S. senior citizens, sponsored by AARP, of course. Okay, there probably isn’t such a guide, but if there were, I don’t think ultra-low rise, cheeky spandex shorts would be on the list for menswear.
As I write this I think, “Maybe I’m too conservative; he has a right to wear whatever he pleases and not be judged for it. He probably fought for that right in both world wars and is now exercising it…albeit badly. Maybe I’ve lived in rural Georgia just a tad too long now and it’s starting to show in my prudishness. If this had taken place in San Francisco’s Castro District, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. I’d probably have wondered why the shorts weren’t shorter, and still had a crotch in them. I’ve never actually hung out in the Castro, but I’m told that there, lots of things do hang out. And hang low, and wobble to and fro. And maybe are tied in knots and bows too… those who have the dexterity. But I digress.
As I continued to observe the gentleman who seemed oblivious to anything out of the ordinary, I was careful not to stare too closely for fear of seeing details I’d regret for the rest of my life. My mind began running through different scenarios of why Mr. U of Illinois chose to wear that selected garment, on that selected day, which wasn’t near Halloween or any recognized Gay Pride Festival (not that we have those in Dublin, GA, but I hear they throw one humdinger in the Castro.) I also gained the valuable insight that women aren’t the only ones who have to deal with cellulite.
Below are three completely fictitious, yet potential reasons that Mr. Honeycutt (as I named him) was wearing spandex cheek holders, rather than trousers.
To impress a woman (very bad idea, he’s obviously been out of the market too long) I can picture him shimmying into those Hooter girl shorts, glancing backward in his floor length mirror, doing just enough of a pelvic shake to rattle his artificial hip and proudly declaring, “Damn, Burton Chester Honeycutt, you still have it. Just wait’ll Florence and Ethel down at the Bingo parlor get a gander of this mature stallion.” Maybe he was trying to get Florence to notice him. After all, she was the one sending off powerful flirtations by allowing just enough cleavage to peak out between the bottom of her blouse and the elastic waist of her pedal pushers. She, with her Richard Simmons obsession, was the one who gave Chester the idea for purchasing the shorts. He was disappointed not to be able to find a candy striped pair like the workout queen sported in his Sweatin’ to the Oldies video series, but the orange pair was striking enough to grab Florence’s attention.
The blind laundress: Or maybe there’s no Florence or floor length mirror or anything like that. Maybe Chester lives with his daughter Linda and her family. Linda is blind and for all practical purposes shouldn’t be doing the laundry. She’s always putting the wrong clothing items in the wrong places, like the freezer and the china cabinet. Linda accidentally put her daughter Sheila’s shorts in Grandpa’s drawer. Rather than chalking it up to her blindness, Chester thought that Linda was sending him a covert compliment that she thought he had the legs and backside of a cheerleader. After all, he had been a runner years earlier and the muscle tone was still there if you looked closely, past the spider web of veins.
(Note: for this scenario to be halfway plausible, as if that’s possible, Linda would have nerve damage in her hands preventing her from feeling items of clothing in addition to her way around the house. Oh well, stranger things have happened.)
The fire that destroyed everything (long version):
Chester Honeycutt was once a dashing, cavalier man of refinement who wore Brooks Brothers and Neiman Marcus every day of the week. However, he had one peculiarity that would eventually be his downfall. He didn’t trust banks as far as he could throw them. And, with his tendonitis, Chester couldn’t even throw a baseball, much less a large building with a vault inside. Therefore, he kept his amassed fortune in a king-sized Sealy Posturepedic pillow-top mattress rather than a sensible checking account. Bad idea, Chester. Everyone knows that that particular mattress, the 1989 model, had spontaneous flammability issues.
And sure enough, late one Sunday night, as Chester was finishing up a Matlock/Murder She Wrote marathon, the unthinkable happened. With the entire top floor engulfed in flames, he had no choice but to run out the front door abandoning his fortune and wardrobe. The fire was a total loss. Neither a single dollar bill, nor stitch of clothing, except the wool bathrobe Chester wore, had survived the tragedy.
Three days later with no insurance settlement in sight, (Farm Bureau, no doubt), Chester, still in his increasingly itchy bathrobe, stood at the counter of the town’s only thrift shop in disbelief at the complete absence of men’s clothing. “We’ve sold every jacket, trouser and men’s shirt we had,” mused the toothless volunteer. “We did, however, just receive a huge shipment of used cheerleading and team dance attire. Say, you look like a size small through the hips. I think I’ve got a little something for you. Are you, by chance a Fighting Illini fan?”
“What the Hell is an Illini?” thought Chester as the clerk held up the shiny bright orange U. of Illinois pantlets. “That’s lamer than the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug. Not in the mood to be wearing wool or discuss college team name follies anymore Chester grabbed the shorts, along with a unisex t-shirt and jacket and headed for the dressing room. At this point, he simply didn’t care. It was time to re-invent himself. Now he would meet the world wearing flame colored spandex. First stop, CVS Pharmacy. Go Fighting Illini!!!
So there you have it, three halfway plausible explanations. The world may never know why the man whose name I’m certain isn’t Chester ventured out in shorts that would make Paris Hilton blush. The world may also never know what an Illini is. I’m not sure I care anymore.