Stop me if you’ve seen this before. There’s a man crossing the road in front of you. As he places one foot in front of the other, he exudes an air of confidence, determination, and purpose. He is not so much involved in the act of walking as he is striding. However, what strikes you the most about this man is that he is wearing shorts and it is winter.
That’s “shorts guy.” He is one of the soldiers making up the legion of men in shorts. You can find them in most geographical regions on the planet, but they are particularly bountiful here on Salt Spring.
Shorts guy doesn’t care about what season it is or the atmospheric conditions. Maybe it’s the middle of a heat wave in August, but it might just as easily be a teeming rainstorm in March or a white-out blizzard in December. For shorts guy, any weather is good weather for shorts.
How do I know this? I happen to be a chartered, card-carrying member of men in shorts. Shorts guy is me. In fact, I belong to an honoured subset of the club, known and feared by all as Old Men in Shorts. For us, attire in shorts is not just a fashion statement; it’s a way of life.
Putting someone like me into a pair of restrictive trousers would be comparable to tying me up in a confining straightjacket. Without the cool touch of the breeze lapping up against my bare legs, I might just as well be smothered in cling wrap and stuffed in a can of sardines.
Why do we men in shorts, especially the senior members of the cult, flaunt the accepted standards and mores of society? Why do we inflict the more normal segments of the population on this island to our display of narcissistic exhibitionism? Does the planet really need a close-up view of our massively burgeoning calf muscles as we glide powerfully along the earth’s surface? Certainly, they must all be checking out our strong and fit legs and nodding away in admiration.
To be honest, we older shorts guys are much more likely to be showing off our atrophied calves on bowed legs pitted with bulging varicose veins. We might even be accessorizing our attire with knee-high black compression stockings to help stave off edema swelling, gout or early neuropathy.
Although you will find that many men in shorts are employed in the fields of courier delivery and postal service, shorts guy can come in any size, shape, or flavour. He may be wearing wool socks and orange crocs, or going sockless in Mexican huaraches sandals. Perhaps he’s wearing a pair of those all-weather khaki safari shorts equipped with dozens of unnecessary pockets. (You can usually hear safari shorts guy long before you see him on account of the annoying noise emanating from the potpourri of coins jingling in his excessively numerous pockets.)
The ubiquitous question that gets asked of shorts guy is “don’t your legs get cold?” To safari shorts guy, this is a ridiculous question. Why would getting completely waterlogged or developing a severe case of frost bite discourage someone who is used to wading through quicksand lagoons while sidestepping crocodiles, boa constrictors, and pythons (if only in his imagination).
Shorts guy has nothing against long pants, really. He knows they can protect your legs from pests like mosquitos, wasps and yappy little Chihuahuas snapping at your heels. He realizes, however that nothing brings your nervous system to life faster than strutting barelegged through a field of stinging nettles.
As shorts guy, you realize that pulling on a pair of shorts over your undies is like getting into a time machine that will transport you back to the past. No matter what your present age, you will always still be stuck in that stage of life where you are getting off the bus at middle school wearing nothing but gym shorts and a T-shirt. Your backpack is stuffed to the gills with a couple of skateboards and a half dozen cans of high-octane caffeinated pop. There’s no room in there for any school textbooks or binders, so you left them strategically stashed at home under a pile of dirty laundry.
Even if shorts guy is doing something as mundane as carrying a blue box of recyclables over to the bin full of tin cans, he moves with the panache of a sun-bleached surfer dude as he hops on his board and paddles out into the oncoming waves to the cries of “surf’s up.”
It doesn’t bother shorts guy if people look down on him and consider him weirdly eccentric. In fact, he considers their disdain as a badge of honour that sets him apart from the teeming hordes. When it comes to the anatomical real estate situated between his knees and his ankles, shorts guy has nothing to hide. Shorts guy’s psyche screams out, “Here are my imperfections; deal with it!”
Recently, there has been talk on the island of forming a special republic for Shorts Guy Nation. Rumours are that this move has been initiated and welcomed by the long pants majority, who envision men in shorts being rounded up and banished to a separate NO TROUSER ZONE island. Hopefully, reason will prevail and we will all be able to coexist together whether we have our knees exposed or not.
Nobody asked me, but I can’t really say how much longer I can continue on with my shorts guy ways. Maybe there will come a day when I turn my back on that middle school bus and graduate finally into a more mature late adolescence. Then again, maybe not. After all, it could be worse. I could be short kilt guy.