You see them only at weekends. After the effort of suspending all residue of wit, spontaneity and character from Monday to Friday in order to blend in with their fellow faceless professionals at the next desk, the white suburban male is sufficiently sapped of energy that he can only succumb to the worst manifestation of sartorial defeat. And so, while cowed into carrying out the chores his wife claims to have been doing all week (when in fact she was at Book Club talking about the area’s top 250 delis), he dons the universal uniform of the bedraggled dad – baseball hat, over-sized t-shirt, and crumpled knee length khaki shorts, all supported by depressingly brown loafers or sandals.
Badly Dressed Suburban Man’s identity is then boiled down to two basic items. 1. The sporting allegiance proclaimed on his baseball cap, which is generally worn backwards until the age of about 35, then turned front on to hide a receding hairline and to avoid skin cancer. 2. The name of a college on his t-shirt. He didn’t necessarily go to that college, but no one’s going to be interested enough to ask him if he really is a Duke graduate or not, so he can get away with it. Sometimes the t-shirt is just blank. Navy blue seems to be a favourite, as it can disguise the summer sweat a little better. The main thing is, it shouldn’t under any circumstance match the shorts, but that’s not a problem. After all, what actually goes with beige or pale grey?
You’ll see masses of them listlessly operating shopping trolleys, wandering the mall in a daze, or standing on the sidelines of a sports game automatically yelling, “Good job, buddy!” approximately once every sixty seconds. In the right hand pocket of their shorts is a Blackberry, which they fondle to remind themselves of who they really are on week days. The money maker, the main man. Although the wife has forbidden them from taking the Blackberry out and pretending to be reading important e-mails, they surreptitiously caress the keys, thinking that the weekend does at least have one saving grace – it makes going back to work on Monday morning more of a relief than a duty.
This passive assault on fashion hasn’t changed one jot in the 11 years I’ve lived here. You can admire its stasis in the same way that you might happily occupy a few hours by watching a tortoise walk in circles. You could even claim that its progenitors are, albeit unwittingly, involved in a collective statement against the fickle transience of mutating trends. Or perhaps it’s a collaboration of housewives dressing their husbands down to stop them looking hot to potential predators. The husbands acquiesce for the sake of a quiet life, and because hell, just because a t-shirt’s 20 years old, doesn’t mean you can’t still wear it, right? What's more, you can jump in the pool and drown yourself without ruining a good shirt.
More Great Suburban Traditions:
No. 8 Going To The Mall
No. 7 Cocktail Hour
No. 6 Grocery Shopping
No. 5 Limited Guilt
No. 4 Asexuality
No. 3 Dog Crap
No. 2 Neighbourhood Watch
No. 1 The Piano Recital