February 11, 2009

The Editor Who Hated to Wear Pants

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I’ve never been a huge fan of pants.
I wore sweat pants to school every day until sixth grade. Like the little shirts I had my mom sew for my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal, or the phase I spent painting rocks and selling them for 25 cents to my mom’s friends, it was just something I did. I didn’t consider how other people would perceive these things. I wasn’t trying to stand out. An understanding of social dynamics, acute observation, and discerning judgment: these were not strong points of my youth. Blissful ignorance and naiveté, well, I was a Viking at those.
In fifth grade, however, the cruelly maturing wit of my peers awoke me to the fact that I was a cotton-and-elastic-clad sore thumb. Always one to cave to peer pressure, I chastised my mother for leading me down this baggy, comfy path, and things soon changed.
Ever since then, I have exclusively worn jeans or khakis. Bound by societal pressures, I figured I was doomed to a life of constraining and rigid pants. I saw no way to avoid the constant battle between my thighs and denim.
I was wrong.
There is a way to wear sweat pants and still circumvent the derision of your peers. It’s genius in its simplicity and maddeningly frustrating because I’ll never be able to do it.
Be an athlete.
Think about it. Every athlete on campus has a free pass to wear sweats and a hoodie to class every day, regardless of the circumstance. At this point, when I see a guy contentedly sporting a baggy sweat suit around campus, I don’t even wonder if he is an athlete — I can safely assume it.
Now, I failed as an athlete a long time ago. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but after being humbled repeatedly to the point of emasculation, I came to terms with my shortcomings. Had I known doing this would mean passing up the opportunity to return to my loose-fitting days of yore, though, I may have reconsidered. Maybe I would have refocused my time to some less athletic sports.
But why are athletes exempt from social ridicule? Are they on call at all times, waiting to be called into surprise workouts? Do they get the urge to exercise unexpectedly, requiring constant preparation? I’m sure it’s easier to go straight from class into practice if you’re already rocking shorts under your sweats. And there’s no doubt that carrying around a bag with a change of clothes probably sucks, but everyone who played sports in high school did that. Why did this habit change in college? Don’t athletes have lockers for this purpose?
To be honest, I really don’t care what athletes wear around campus. It’s of no particular concern to me what anyone wears, frankly. I’m just bitter. I hate jeans. They bunch awkwardly, they squeeze your waist, and they make my boxers bunch up. When I get home, the first thing I do is unbutton that first button to freedom. Even shorts bother me somewhat — all that static clinging. It was tough getting adjusted to wearing them around the hallways freshman year at Cornell. Growing up in a two-person household was kind of like backpacking; I could go days without seeing anyone.
I have found replacement activities for nearly everything I got out of being an athlete — community, exercise, competition. But when I tried to declare the Daily Sun offices pants-optional, people thought I was joking. Even when I compromised with the suggestion of “Sweat Pants Sundays,” I got mostly irreverent laughs. When I wear sweat pants to the library, people mock me because they say “Holla” across the butt (OK, that’s on me). And apparently the notion of “Casual Fridays” doesn’t include Zumba pants or Parachute pants. Am I to understand that I simply wasted $15 on eBay?
It’s time for society to stop allowing athletes to monopolize the sweat pants contingency on campus. I have spent nearly four years being subservient to athletes, interviewing them about how good they are and writing about their amazing work ethic and attitude. I have put thousands of miles on to my lovingly nicknamed car “Big Problem Bessie” following Cornell sports teams up and down the East Coast.
I am willing to concede many benefits to athletes. All joking aside, athletes are some of the most talented, hardworking people on Cornell’s campus. They should reap the benefits. But this is where I draw the line. It’s time to give sweats back to the people.
I’m not calling for a Marxist uprising, but rather a peaceful transfer and some new social mores. We all have enough to deal with as it is. Comfort shouldn’t have to be one of them.