THE BLOG

How I Got Through My Life Without Wearing Shorts

08/31/2013 08:18 EDT | Updated 08/31/2013 08:19 EDT

I was down by the beach the other day and I marvel at the young women strolling by in their shorts. Shorts so short they could double as car chamois.

Personally, I haven't worn shorts in decades. I don't ever feel the need to push my bottom into a pair because, from the rear, it looks like two puppies struggling to get out.

Now listen, I'm not putting myself down. I'm very grateful for the legs I have. They go all the way up to my waist. They are decent, stocky, Irish peasant legs, meant to support me as I carry rocks up a famine hill. But its not because of the size of my legs, but the colour. There is none. I don't tan. Like paint chips, there is white and there is French white and linen white. But mine are white white. I have zero pigment. When I sit by one of those SAD lights, they cure my depression but give me sunstroke.

Refusing to wear shorts has held me back in life. I could never be a nudist. Other nudists would go snow blind. I could never be a postal worker. Dogs would take one look at my Bermuda shorts and immediately want to bite me. I could never be a cop. Cops are forced to wear shorts. Was it not bad enough they put them on bikes? How humiliating it must be for them, wearing Bermuda shorts and cycling like little demons, chasing bad guys driving souped-up, vibrating cars. They look like the Wicked Witch of the West, warning, "I'll get you, my little drug dealer. You and your little pit bull, too."

My self-imposed shorts ban started back in my childhood. As a teenager, I was the one at the beach always pretending I'd forgotten my bathing suit. "I'll just wear my Levis." Not cut-offs. Full-length jeans. And boy, those suckers get heavy when they're wet. It's a wonder I wasn't found at the bottom of the quarry. One time I wore pantyhose under my bathing suit, and when people came up to me and said, "Hey, you're wearing pantyhose," I did what any self-respecting person would do. I denied it. "Uh, excuse me, I can't help that my legs get darker at the top," I lied. "And these webbed toes? Well, duck feet run in the family."

And so did bad taste in shorts. Thinking of some of my relatives who wore shorts gives me bad dreams. I still have nightmares about Cousin Garney bending over trying to start an outboard motor, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, gas leaking everywhere...and not from the motor. He used to wear shorts with black socks and penny loafers. He would be decked out in his short shorts, (the kind with no net pouch). Outright commando, if you get my drift.

I can be walking along a street in the dead of winter and suddenly get a flashback of Grandma Mary wearing her pink hot pants and blue pantyhose with white shoes. To church. She'd go up the aisle every Sunday flirting with the men who took up the collection. She always insisted on travelling to the beach in the same getup. For those road trips, she'd also sport her massive sunglasses and jam cotton balls in the side in case rays of sunshine tried to sneak in. In those days, there was no air conditioner in the car, and she would never let me roll down the window because she was afraid she might gulp wind. Apparently, if you gulp wind, you could blow up! That, and she didn't want to get dirt in her hair. OK, not her hair, her wig. She had no real hair of her own. She had a closet full of wig heads. If she ever sent you in there to get something, it always seemed they were talking to you.

I don't want to inflict that visual on the younger generation. So I sit here in my Mrs. Roper caftan that I got at S&R's closing sale, grooving to the sounds of Edgar Winter. For some reason, I feel a kinship to the man. Compared to me he looks tanned.