Saturday, August 21, 2010
HUMIDITY MAKES ONE DO STRANGE THINGS
I know. Staring at the midsection of a decently-dressed man is such a surprise. And why, you ask, would I even put such a thing up in front of you on such a nice day?
Well, the L.A. Times today had a funny article (although I think they meant it to be more interesting than funny) about how men in China handle hot humid days in the summertime. According to the story, the young people think this abdominal display is gauche, but the men who do it, even businessmen, say they have a good reason: to feel cooler. Regardless of the age of the men, they are called "bang ye" - exposing grandfathers.
Now I have a couple of things to say about this. First of all, here in Southern California we have seen this trend for years. It seems to be pretty much a favorite of Mexican men -- and we have seen such variations as the shirt pulled up over the back and head and held in place via the forehead. The other style is to remove the t-shirt completely and wrap it around one's head. I suppose every culture has a way to handle high humidity, some a little more dramatic than others.
If I were to see a man somewhat casually dressed walking along the street with a briefcase and having his midsection exposed in such a manner, I would assume he's really suffering from the heat and wouldn't give it another thought. If it was in the middle of winter, I would assume he has a screw loose.
Luckily, Southern California doesn't have high humidity like the east coast and the south does. I lived in Istanbul through two summers, and I learned real quickly that I do not do well in that kind of heat. I just felt awful. Our flat was not air conditioned and not only did I feel bad but I looked bad too. As our second year there ran up towards summer, Jerry and I investigated the possibility of moving out to one of the nearby Islands, where there is fresh and moving air all the time, making it livable. But instead we settled for having a big air conditioning unit put into our living room window. It worked wonderfully well and that is where I spent June, July and August of 1992. Did I get bored? No, because all my friends from the American Women of Istanbul group came to camp out with me during the day. It was a great summer.
Those two years taught me that it would be best if I stayed in Southern California when I retired. We do have the best of all weather here.
But getting back to men of any race or nationality with their bellies hanging out for a good reason: I will approve of those anytime before I would consider adopting a "live and let live" attitude for male teenagers and young men who choose to wear their pants hanging around their knees. Not long ago I was in a line at the bank behind an otherwise-well-dressed young man but whose pants were ready to take a plunge down to his ankles. I could see about half of his boxer shorts and as nearly as I could tell he had no behind at all for the pants to perch upon. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that shortly he would be "pantsed."
Now I understand that this is a fashion statement but in my thinking he did not have a good reason to be in such a state of half-undress. These guys wear baggy pants just for the heck of it; it doesn't matter whether the day is hot or cold, and their pants are merely hanging on by a promise. I am always sorry I can't be there when the pants take the final plunge. Yes, I'd probably be embarrassed and the pantsed man wouldn't. But I'd sure like to let out a large guffaw while he re-covered himself.
So let the poor hot Chinese men cool off any way they can. And let's pray that this fad with pants at half-mast moves from the fashion scene sooner, rather than later.