- They cause any man wearing them to appear five inches shorter than he really is.
- Their wide, ungainly, below-the-knee openings make even the most muscular man's calves look like spindly dowels.
- The pleated, poofy pockets are impossible to iron and catch on every cabinet knob below counter level.
- They cause the wearer to spill over at mid-thigh into neighboring airplane, train or bus seats.
- They give the man wearing them the roughshod appearance of one who rolled out of bed and wrapped himself in the first thing he could find that was at least one step better than pajamas.
- To top it off, scientists will likely discover cargo shorts are responsible for chronic joint degeneration due to the incessant knocking of wallets, smartphones and keys against the knee.
Will any of that stop me from wearing them? No, and it isn't simply a matter of obstinance.
I have understood the effect cargo shorts have had on my appearance and psyche ever since buying the first pair. I knew they made me look like a pale, unkempt, bloated Smurf with emaciated legs from the moment I saw my reflection in the dressing room mirror.
When people openly embrace something they know is bad for them, there is typically one root cause. For all their evils, cigarettes provide a calming effect, which is why so many people in high-stress occupations smoke. Chocolate might be fattening, but it provides a temporary elevation of mood some studies have claimed is similar to the way we feel when falling in love. Professional wrestling might be idiotic pantomime appealing to adults who never developed a taste for entertainment beyond Tom & Jerry or Punch & Judy, but... Actually, there is no benefit to professional wrestling.
The single reason cargo shorts have, for me, proven more than a passing trend is simple -- practicality.
My wallet is a huge mass with its own gravitation pull and weather system. I would never, for no good reason, wad up layers of leather and cram them full of plastic, pictures and paper just to shove it all in my back pocket, and neither would you. Sitting all day with one butt cheek propped several inches higher than the other can't be good for the spine or the sciatic nerve, so if I can wear shorts that position the wallet elsewhere in my attire, I will. Apperances be damned.
If I look back through the photographic journal of my life, there are style choices that immediately come into question. Acid-washed jeans, anyone? Facial hair? Anyone who has ever seen me with facial hair has witnessed living proof why blondes should not grow beards. There are only two end results for blondes with beards -- spiraling drug addict or shopping center Santa Claus. How about the tried-to-grow-my-hair-out-and-failed-with-a-bad-mullet phase? Wind suits, polyester pants, two-tone shirts, high-top sneakers, courduroy pants, oversize belt buckles, calculator watches, pink dress shirts, Magnum P.I. courduroy short shorts, knee-high tube socks, flannel shirts... Had any of those trends proven themselves anywhere near as practical as cargo shorts, I might still be wearing them.
I have no immediate plans to abandon my cargo shorts and I have every intention to replace them as they wear out. They might be ugly, and they might not be sexy, but they sure do come in handy when you ask me to carry your phone.
2016 Mark Feggeler