by Christopher J. Bachler
Fashions have come and gone since Fred Flintstone was a baby, but they usually follow a logical pattern. For instance, early man wore bearskins, not especially because they liked them or because they were easy to obtain (the bears usually objected) but because they were warm and practical, fleas and parasites notwithstanding.
Styles continued to evolve, reflecting man’s ingenuity and needs, but every innovation suited a purpose. The Romans developed some great body armor to protect them from their enemies. The Scots developed the kilt, presumably to keep their legs cool in the highlands. Shirt collars were designed to cover one’s cold neck. Coat sleeve buttons were first sewn on coats during the winter at Valley Forge when an irate general wanted to discourage the men from wiping their noses on their sleeves.
Baseball caps were no exception; they, too, were designed for a specific purpose. The idea behind the simple cap with a visor was to protect the eyes from the sun and the face from the elements. Aside from Janus, no one needs to protect a second face on the back of his head. Why, then, wear a baseball cap backwards? I ask this question because I’ve noticed how commonplace this is today, especially among young males.
Wearing a baseball cap backwards makes as much sense as wearing shoes on the wrong feet. Imagine your impression of a person who wears the left shoe on the right foot, and the right one on the left. Wouldn’t you think he was demented? What would you think of someone who wears his pants backwards, or underwear over his street clothes, or socks on his hands and gloves on his feet? This is my impression of those who wear baseball caps backwards.
I don’t question one’s right to wear a baseball cap backwards; I only question why one would want to look like a fool. But I suppose that the fool who reveals himself to the world does us all a big favor.
The Saggy-Baggy Look
There was a time when a man who walked around with his pants half-way down his keister and his underwear sticking out was a bum, and everyone knew it. He might be intoxicated or just deranged. Or he was just a typical slob whose bloated belly and disappearing rump made the decline of his britches inevitable. But nobody thought he was making some kind of a statement. He was a victim of poor upbringing or bad genes. Period!
But now some “youths” choose to wear their pants this way for reasons known only in heaven or hell. I don’t know what the appeal is; aesthetically speaking, droopy pants are no match for properly fixed ones. I can’t see how it can be comfortable or easy to sit in pants so arranged. I can only guess that they like to deliberately disrespect whoever has the misfortune of walking behind them; kind of a lazy man’s way of “mooning” someone without needing to stop, drop the drawers and bend over.
Some stores now sell torn jeans, and young folks actually buy them! I’ve always preferred to rip my own. Isn’t that the point of wearing them? But I imagine that young people are too busy doing nothing in particular to wear out their own pants, and they would rather pay someone else to do it for them.
I understand the idea of pre-washed jeans; it gets the excess dye out and right-sizes the pants before you buy them. But pre-torn jeans? There’s a difference between looking like a bum because you can afford no better, and actually paying for the privilege. America is a place where being an individual is a right, and rubbing other people’s faces in it is a privilege.
From what little I can glean from the contemporary culture, the whole thing boils down not to reason but to following the crowd. Do whatever everyone else does, especially if it’s some emotionally-stunted, maladapted celebrity, no matter how nonsensical, pointless or even harmful it may be. It’s a curious irony that so many of the very people who scream loudest about their freedom are so eager to surrender it to the roving herd which they follow blindly.
(It is the great mystery of all ages that so few labor to pull us out of the darkness while so many struggle to pull us in.)
Young people are dutiful slaves to their gullibility. Like Socrates, I encourage them to actually think about the things they believe and do. But then, that didn’t do Socrates a whole lot of good; did it?
Christopher J. Bachler is a long-time freelance writer from Delaware County.