Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Going Out

Saturday evening. I was getting ready to head into the city, and it'd been a hot, humid summer day. I rinsed off, exchanged the sweat-soaked wifebeater for a clean, dry one, threw on a guayabera, and put on a pair of jeans.

Hold up.

It peaked at 90 that afternoon, and wasn't getting any more comfortable anytime soon. Sweating = natural consequence of sitting. Jeans?

Earlier in the day, I'd laughed at a guy strolling through sunny McCarren Park wearing black jeans and two black t-shirts. Eh? I was still manufacturing volumes of sweat wearing one tee, shorts, and sandals!

But when it comes time to go out, we all follow suit. No matter how insanely hot and humid it may be, the shorts stay at home. I feel this is a condition unique to New York; everywhere else, shorts come out when it hits 80°F (except in obvious cases like church, funerals, jobs, and Important Business Dinners). Some places have a threshold as low as 70, such as my hometown of Traverse City, MI, and other Midwest locales where people are built for cold, and don't do well with heat; maybe even Chicago.

Here, about two years go, I was chastised over the course of an evening by a cute, tipsy hipster girl for wearing walking shorts and sandals to a bar on a Saturday night much like the one described above.

"But it's summer! That's what you do!" I'd protest.

"Yeah, but not HERE! It's just, like, so... I don't know, you just don't DO it."

Gee, thanks, Rebecka, for your thoughtful elucidation.

Though now, two years later, I have conformed. We all do it. Why? Style would be the easy answer — and not without validity. But I believe the greater reason is the appeal of suffering. Masochism, simply put. The gleeful pursuit of suffering is a defining facet of the New York experience. We live in shoeboxes, endure month after month of hand-to-mouth living, pack into sweaty, cramped bars to buy $6 beers, tolerate sidewalks littered with broken glass, dog shit, and winos (a good neighborhood!), then dress for 70 when it's 90. And why else if not for pleasure?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel your pain Mr. Dave -- the trick is to whiddle down your shorts collection to one pair of beat-up rags that you are only comfortable wearing around the house, then you'll never wear shorts out simply for the reason that you don't have any.

10:30 PM  

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