This is a guest post from “Pierre,” a Dad of two toddler boys, who recently learned a life lesson from a major fashion faux pas.
I was born in 1976, so most of my life I have been a young person… most of my life, but, lately, not so much.
Many things have changed.
For instance, when I was born, Perú was the reigning fútbol champion of América. Nowadays, we don’t make it beyond third place. On my birthdays, I remember Mom getting a “Magicube” for her Kodak camera, so she could take pictures at night. That “Magicube” would give her four flashes for the camera. I also remember when The Smurfs were the new cartoon on TV.
So you have the idea, I was born a while ago.
I am thirty-nine. I have grey hair. I am married… for a second time, and I have two kids (thank God! from the same wife). My kids will soon start to retain their memories with me.
One of my memories when I was a kid is seeing my dad well-dressed, exiting a really tall building and taking me for lunch somewhere in the nice business district where the above-mentioned building was located. I like this image of my elegant father.
Now, will my kids remember me as a well-dressed herald-of-the good-manners Dad?
Let’s see: I do not work in a tall building. I work in a laboratory, where I handle stinky, carcinogenic, radioactive chemicals, and bacteria, like E. coli, which smells like… well in the lab we say “it smells like shit.” On top of this, I live in North Florida. For a few weeks it gets cold in the winter, but it is essentially a tropical location. We do not have a dress code here. It is just “dress with something comfortable but not something you will miss.” For instance, in case I spill something on my clothes in the lab, I may have to put it in the trash or a biohazard bag. (I remember once having an accident and needing to remove all my clothes and drive back home just wearing my lab coat.) My clothes smelled like pyridine (think concentrated dead fish perfume).
Let’s recount: no tall building, the next fancy restaurant is fifteen miles away, no dress code, very likely to sweat most of the year even with the best effort of the AC. No, I will not look like my dad in the eighties. I need a compromise. What can I do to look more like a dad? Something has to change.
I grew up in a city where the sun does not shine most of the year; a little rain is newsworthy, and it is easy to dress up with that weather. But in Florida weather?—The Sunshine State? Last month we almost reached ten inches of rain according to my electricity bill.
When I first came to the United States as a graduate student, I found that hiking pants were extremely practical since I could unzip the bottom of the pants and boom!— they turned into shorts!
So what looks like hiking pants but are just short?
The answer was cargo shorts. I did not even know they were called that, but one day, I found myself buying some. They cost around twenty bucks. You can ride a bike with them, you can store a couple of CDs in your pockets, and they do not need any special care. They store cargo. However, these convenient pants, I found out recently through social media, carry some burden.
I read that people who wear these pants are very likely to be named Todd. Who is Todd? Todd is the guy your mother dated briefly but did not marry. So Todd did not make it to the top of the pyramid, meaning being happily married, with kids, some grey hair, and just just just below being in your forties. And probably there is no Todd with a real job in the business district either.
So, after that day, I left the cargo shorts behind and never looked back. And my wife is loving it.