Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A sign frequents this land
A couple months ago, Derrick Shepard, state representative for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, introduced legislation to ban women from exposing the tops of their thongs in public. To obey the ban, young women will have to commit a serious breach of modern fashion protocol. The E! Channel is upset. And you should be, too, even though Rep. Shepard may be on to something. ...
Preparing to barbecue one sunny Saturday afternoon, I walked into the local supermarket and plotted my course. The center aisle, the one where supermarkets sell seasonal items such as beach balls, doubles as the quickest route to the meat department. I made my move.
Rounding the corner, I saw an angry young man. He had just bounced one of these beach balls. His baggy jeans clung, precariously at best, to his waist. At mid bounce, he turned his backside to me. As the store’s ball hit the floor and rocketed back toward his hand, the adolescent’s pants and underwear gave way, falling down to his knees to expose a bare ass.
Now, I don’t know about you, but, for me, it’s a reflex. Whenever my pants and underwear fall down in public, I immediately grab them and frantically pull them back up, hoping no one sees what has happened. The punk in my supermarket sees things differently. Unfazed, he casually walked away, his pants, at that point, around his ankles.
A sign frequents this land. It hangs from the doors of family-owned retail establishments in small towns everywhere. Its message informs us, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No service.” Mom and Pop sure as hell never even thought to add the words “No Pants” to their cozy corner store’s sign.
My, how times have changed. Even this social norm has finally found its slow learner. Perhaps the kid never read the Book of Genesis. Who knows? Somewhere, somehow, however, this guy never processed the concept that he should pull his pants back up as fast as he can when they fall down in public.
Rep. Shepard’s designs to limit the quotient of publicly exposed female skin are wrong, and I oppose his efforts. But a revised version of his ban is surely in order. Let’s apply it first to contractors who enter my home to fix leaky faucets, broken wiring, and other structural and utility ailments only accessible from crouching positions. And let’s also think about writing in a minimum sentencing requirement for unrepentant beach ball–bouncing punks caught with their pants down at my local supermarket.