Wednesday, August 09, 2006

dispatch from lebanon

andover
(me, on the grounds of phillips academy, andover)

lebanon, nh
(me, writing this post)

So here I am in Lebanon, NH with Kathryn on our way to the ASA meetings in Montreal. The main reason for this post is allowing me to cross New Hampshire off the list of states from which I've blogged.

Within five minutes of meeting me in Harvard Square today--a meeting at which, it goes without saying, I was wearing shorts--Kathryn announced that "most people believe adults should not wear shorts except on vacation, running, or mowing the lawn." I said I would canvass my blog for opinions on the subject. Opinions on the subject?

On our way here, Kathryn and I stopped by Phillips Academy Andover, where Kathryn went to high school, as did George W. Bush, John F. Kennedy Jr, and the Kerry daughters. We toured the campus and it was much different than the placebo school that desiccated my mind for four years in rural Iowa. Kathryn says, if she could choose to be any age again, she would choose to be fifteen, just so she could go to Andover again. By coincidence, I would also choose to be fifteen again, if I could to Andover, or at least to any high school where increasing the diversity of extracurricular activities did not mean just adding another sport.

Kathryn just asked me how many sports they offered at my high school. "Not as many as at Andover," I replied. "You could say that about pretty much anything," she said, "except for maybe meth addicts." "Did Andover have a Future Farmers of America chapter?" "No. But John Deere sent his son there."

32 comments:

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I am wearing shorts right now. I probably wouldn't wear them to work if I was going to be around other people, but other than that, if it's warm outside, why not? Are short skirts somehow different from shorts in this school of thought, or am I just all-around inappropriate?

dorotha said...

i don't give a crap what you wear, jeremy, except when you wear your black shoes with shorts. but that is a shoe/short interaction problem. a problem that makes me want to puke on both you, for wearing dressy shoes with shorts, and kathryn, for going to a snob fest of a high school.

i lived in a middle class neighborhood and had a middle class neighborhood. sociology was offered as an elective every other semester.

Teddy Love said...

If your lifestyle guide is "The Official Preppy Handbook" then yes, you would be in violation (trust me, I know, I memorized this thing in 1980, hoping to move to the northeast and marry well ... jeez, don't tell anyone. I was a teenager; it was a long time ago).
-TL
p.s. my nickname back then was "Bootsy" ... I swear.

IronLung1948 said...

peace to the suburbs

Hazel said...

SNAKES ON A PHONE!!
http://snakesonaplane.varitalk.com/

how friggin cool is that??

Anonymous said...

If you have noticeably hairy legs,
no shorts except in the company of those who know your body intimately.

It's an aesthetic rule, broken only for outdoor work and heated activity. Handicaps more men than women. Sorry if you think it's unfair that some were not born very hairy, or on some it can be felt but not seen. But that's the basic rule. And as a reminder, you asked. If mature and hairy, cover the lower legs if you don't know someone that intimately. Carries into other hot weather cultures and body modesty expectations outside right here USA.

Anonymous said...

Well folks, it wasn't very hot in Cambridge these past couple of days. Perhaps Jeremy was still wearing what he wore last week, when it was scorching?
Need more info.

Sounds as though Kathryn maybe was sending JF an oblique message: Oh! you look sooooo sloppy in those shorts, man!

Sister A said...

Until there really are "fashion police" who can arrest you, wear whatever is comfortable.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sister A. Adults should wear shorts whenever they want to. I have never heard of the informal limitations Kathryn mentions. I have heard of organizations having a formal dress code. Kathryn's statement is probably applicable in her world, but it sounds like her world is pretty small. However, this discussion reminds me that my lack of knowledge of such informal codes has probably undermined me in ways I'm not even aware of.

Anonymous said...

The rule on shorts, as it was explained to me, is as follows...

If there is a reasonable expectation that someone will address you as "Mister" (or, as the case may be, "Doctor") then wear long pants. Otherwise, shorts will probably be acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Wait - I forgot to ask...

Were they button and zipper shorts, or drawstring and elastic shorts?

Because if they had a drawstring and elastic then she's right.

AK said...

Wow, Jeremy, "placebo school" is the perfect way to describe my high school! You are so clever.

But still, I don't think you, or any other adult, should be wearing shorts unless you are doing some sort of physical activity. Or if you are actually near the beach or in a place where everyone else is wearing shorts, like Florida. Shorts are just kind of tacky. Like wearing a shirt with an American flag on it.

But I agree with Sister A. Wear what you like. Just know that some people will find it overly casual.

AK said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In the US people seem to wear shorts whenever and whereever. Plus you're a sociologist, should you be that concerned? You should know well that it's all socially constructed opinions anyway.

And that comment about hairy legs is pretty ridiculous. It would've only been more ridiculous if you'd added (if the person had added a note about woman in particular). Some people have hairy legs, others don't, big deal.

I do, however, oppose men walking around without shirts.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I oppose men walking around without shirts at least until I'm allowed to do it, too.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Addendum: even though my internship this fall is in an institution with "very casual" dress norms, I don't think I'll wear shorts to it. And I did not even pack my t-shirt that says, Wanna see my favorite yoga position?

Anonymous said...

Just so all of you know: Harvard Square isn't a fashionable place. Certainly not preppy. We're a scruffy bunch and dress comfortably (what was Kathryn wearing?).

As for Montreal and the ASA meeting? What will JF wear there?

Anonymous said...

For the record, I did say this. And I stand by it. Except when engaging in specific leisure activites, shorts are not appropriate wardrobe for adults. (The hosts on 'What Not to Wear' would totally back me up on this... though I held this opinion long before I ever saw the show.)

When it came up, Jeremy WAS wearing shorts with white athletic socks and black shoes. He wants to buy sandles when we return to Cambridge so that he doesn't have to sport this particular look again. I simply suggested another alternative was that he not wear shorts when sneakers were not an appropriate accompaniment.

If it matters, I was wearing white summer-weight pants and a chocolate knit tee. One of my favorite outfits for hot summer days.

Also, Dorotha's right...I did go to a snobby high school. But I still loved it.
-Kathryn

Anonymous said...

Love this post. That Kathryn has it nailed. Unless you’ve done some traveling around the world, I don’t think that most of us in the U.S. even realize how ridiculous the Average American looks, dressed up like a four year-old in knee-pants all the time. I also love the “baby” look which, alas, seems to be going out of fashion – velour sweats complete with ample “muffin top” spilling over the sides of the elastic waist band. “Awwwww, what a cute wittle chubby-wubby baby!” My current fave is the “college dude”/”college dudette” look. It is particularly hilarious, especially when sported abroad. I don’t know how many times I’ve spotted the baseball caps, t-shirts, cargo shorts, and flip-flops a mile away in a sea of dressed-like-adults sporting light coats and sweaters. (I’ve literally seen locals in both Asia and Europe turn around, point, and snicker/shake head forlornly as Joe College has ambled by. The REAL American creed: “comfort” above all else.

Anonymous said...

The REAL American creed: “comfort” above all else.

What else is there? Style? Forget that--practicality takes the day. I'll admit, there are times when I don't feel all that proud to be an American, but in this case I am. Disparaging us for our policies (foreign or domestic) is often warranted, but for dressing too casually?? Come on, people...

Anonymous said...

"Comfort" with scare quotes because it is really the appearance of comfort - affecting the pose that one simply CAN'T BEAR to wear clothes, as if they were too heavy or something - that defines the US aesthetic. Witness, as I'm sure we all have, Joe College wearing filp flops in the snow, or slipping into college dude uniform as soon as the temperature breaks 32. Sure, it is freezing, but it is more important to LOOK like one is heading to the beach, even whilst in Madison in March.

Anonymous said...

"What else is there [than comfort]?"

I think that pretty much sez it all.

By the way, I, anonymous 12:40, am American and I am not wearing shorts today...

Anonymous said...

(So many, many who are 'Anonymous' on this subject. Sort of like a style in itself.)
Let's have some pictures, please! I can't imagine myself following info on when to wear shorts or whatever in Cambridge.

But I don't object to those who do.

nina said...

I used to say only in America do men wear shorts. Then I spent two months in southern France and noticed that almost every man -- young and old -- wore what we would call cut offs. I did a post on it. I thought it was sexy.
If you want to do what pleases you, wear what you want. If you want to show that you have some respect for the surroundings, take note of others. Big city types rarily wear shorts. Madisonians always wear shorts. It would be ridiculous to say "no shorts here." You'd stand out.
Hsving said that, I don't know a place on earth that would encourage shorts in the workplace unless you're a gym coach or something.

zed said...

Which is the greater faux pas: a man wearing shorts or a man wearing pants with sweat soaking his shirt, dripping off his face and also smelling of body odor?

Anonymous said...

... and JF leaned close and said ..... Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confin'd within the weak list of a country's fashion; we are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places stops the mouth of all find-fault .....

Anonymous said...

" If you have noticeably hairy legs,
no shorts except in the company of those who know your body intimately."

This is TOTAL bullshit. How dare you impose your stunted-conformist-human-body-fearing small mindedness on me. Hair on the legs is natural, and there is nothing wrong with it, and if you don't like to look at it when it's on my legs, DON'T F***ING LOOK!

I was talking to a family Dr. the other day who said that she's been treating lots of PRE-TEEN girls for ingrown hairs from getting Brazilian wax-jobs. Our culture's obsession with the hairless female body is sick.

Anonymous said...

Our culture's obsession with the hairless female body is sick.
---
Hairless preteen look. That's the female version of short pants, ballcap, gymshoe wearing guys.

Modesty makes distinctions between private and public showings. Why are all the comfortable people getting so... hot and bothered? Why so eager to show share?

Winston said...

Dress for comfort - always...

That highbrow crap went out years ago. Anything goes...

dorotha said...

funny thing about leg hair: when jeremy was in madison, i knocked on his office door to say hello. i was wearing shorts (go screw if you have a problem with that). first thing out of jeremy's mouth is, "you have hair on your legs." my response was, "we are mammals."

jeremy, were what you want. i have no problem with you showing your hairy legs. i have no problem with your shorts. who am i to dictate what you should wear?

that said, i am addicted to go fug yourself.

Anonymous said...

first thing out of jeremy's mouth is, "you have hair on your legs." my response was, "we are mammals."

Good response!

Reading all this discussion about shorts just made me glad none of the people I hang out with went to Andover. I don't think I could take all these pant-length rules.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this generated a lot of comments. Jeremy, what have been your most-commented-upon posts?

Anonymous said...

To me, that rule seems just as artificial and arbitrary as no white shoes after Labor Day. The sort of meaningless distinction used to sort outsiders from "polite society".