Not far from a ragged basketball court squeezed between two sidestreets just off Dorchester Ave., you could sense the boredom, the chronic misjudgements, the drifting spirit of urban life as easily as you could sense the gathering chill in the late autumn breeze.
Two young adults approached, one lanky, the other of slighter stature. The tall one was holding a bottle of Orbitz, that fruit-flavored beverage that looks like it has goobers floating in it. They obviously had too much time on their hands–like so many city kids today–and too little advice from grown-ups on how to choose beverages, as well as clothes that aren’t 150 sizes too large.
“What up, man?” the short one was saying. “How you feelin’?”
“Loosey goosey,” said the short one, his pants incredibly baggy.
Farther up the avenue, a merchant, who gave his name as Kim Chi, stood and watched like a sentry. He sensed a drifting spirit in urban life, too.
“What is city coming to? These kids with their too large clothes. Their pants so huge. They come in store, and you can’t tell what’s in pockets. I used to think America was terrific place. Now I wonder. This is era of bad clothing, for sure.”
Why does everybody see it except the incredibly elite and out-of-touch media? Why have we looked on with cow-eyed complacence as youth styles have led to baggier pants and huger T-shirts, making our leaders of tomorrow look like the nitwits and imbeciles they probably will turn out to be?
Take a walk through Harvard Square someday, which is sure not what it used to be. Bad dressing has taken hold of a whole generation of fakers, most of them from neat and clean homes in the suburbs.
The public schools are in total meltdown, allowing loose-fitting garb that mirrors the loose-fitting values of teachers who probably still wear ratty ‘Question Authority’ T-shirts left over from their heydey as ’60s hippies.
Think about it: What most hard-working Middle Americans want to know from their elected officials is simply whether their children are going to come out of the public schools able to answer a few basic questions–questions like “in hockey, what color is the blue line?”
Naturally, President Clinton was derided by preposterous hypocrites in the press when he came out for dress codes in public schools. How many of the smug editorial writers who sneered at the President’s idea send their own children to prep schools where the students are properly attired with marvelous clothes that fit?
You can bet your last pair of Red Sox tickets it sure is more than a few.
Incidentally, there is one group that stands out as a role model for smart dressing. In any city in America, it is the cops who cover themselves in glorious garb. But because they are cops, we don’t see them as guys who might actually have a clue. Check out the stripe up the side of the leg. Notice it doesn’t run curvaciously over mounds of surplus garment. It goes straight up the leg.
We live in an era where sloppiness is getting totally out of control. We are a nation of slobs, pandered to by a news business that was ruined when a Hollywood movie glamorized two slovenly Watergate reporters. Now most big-city newspapers are overrun with well-educated Yuppies from the best of broken homes, too young to remember what America was like when pants were worn with cuffs a few inches above the ankle.
On top of that, most newspapers are loaded up with big-time columnists who have stayed on too long, collecting tremendous salaries while presiding over a slow but steady decline in standards.“I am tired of seeing standards fall,” Kim Chi was saying. “And worst of it is, big-time columnists give us funny names and make us talk pidgin English.”
But too many of us go on blissfully unaware of what is changing all around us. As society continues to unravel, our clothing begins to tell the story of who we are. We have more than enough material, and yet somehow it never manages to make us look good. Somehow we never seem convincing as we make a show of being in touch with the nation’s changing fabric.