Posts Tagged With: bellbottoms

Improbable Causes

A department store flyer this week included an ad for men’s “causal” pants. My first assumption, naturally, was that a proofreader, possibly on a Monday morning before his or her first cup of coffee, had been a little too “casual” about checking the copy.

But maybe not. What if the ad meant exactly what it said? This could explain so much. There is definitely a “causal” relationship between the wearing of certain styles of pants and the effects thereof. For instance:

The astonishingly long-lasting style of grossly oversized pants for young men, which causes:
a. An increase in underwear sales, at least among certain styles and brands, since the top two-thirds of it are visible to all who care to look and even more who don’t.
b. The inability to do anything, such as mowing the yard or carrying laundry downstairs, that requires both hands, because of the need to keep one hand free to continually hitch up one’s sagging britches.
c. The inability to carry anything heavier than a ten-dollar bill in the multiple pockets of those saggy pants, because even an extra half-ounce of weight will cause the jeans to end up around the wearer’s ankles.

The latest and opposite extreme style for young men of super-skinny jeans, which causes:
a. Still more of an increase in underwear sales, since the boxers that were required under (or rather, above) the baggy jeans won’t fit under the skinny jeans.
b. A decrease is impulse spending, because while it is possible to carry a limited amount of cash in the super-tight pockets of the super-skinny jeans if one puts it into the pocket before zipping up the jeans, it’s not possible to get the cash out of the pocket in public without losing one’s dignity.
c. A possible need to switch from the baritone to the tenor section of the high school chorus.

The style for women of super-skinny jeans, which causes:
a. The continued sale of large, heavy purses. (See “b” above.)

The style for young women, as well as for some women old enough to know better, of super-stretchy tights in brightly colored geometric patterns, unfortunately too often worn with too-short tops, which causes:
a. Even more sales of large, heavy purses, which if carried in appropriate positions may provide some much-needed cover.
b. The unavoidable noticing, by innocent bystanders, of dimples in places said bystanders have no business knowing about and would really prefer not to know about.
c. A presumed decrease in underwear sales, since if even the stretchiest underwear were worn under the stretchy tights it would be possible to read the size, brand name, and fiber content printed on it.

All these and similar extreme styles in pants certainly are causal of outbursts of sarcasm and hilarity from observers, particularly those who are old enough to have forgotten—or at least to hope others have forgotten—about some of their own earlier fashion excesses. The outbursts may be muted if these observers are encouraged to browse through old photo albums. Or, if they can’t remember where they’ve stored the photo albums, the hilarity can be brought to an abrupt end with one evocative phrase: plaid polyester bellbottoms.

Categories: Fashion | Tags: , | 2 Comments

You Can Get Anything You Want . . .

. . . at Alice’s Restaurant. The original restaurant under Alice’s name is long since gone, but the song that made Arlo Guthrie famous in the mid-1960’s is still a satisfying entree. All 18 1/2 minutes of it. It’s actually not a song but a funny, rambling monologue that’s clever satire and wry war protest laced with an irresistible chorus that will lodge itself in the back of your mind and stay there for days.

And it’s a true story. Or at least, as Hollywood might put it, based on true events. “Alice’s Restaurant” starts with Thanksgiving dinner at Alice’s home in a remodeled church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, wanders off to an escapade of illegal garbage dumping, meanders through a court hearing with “8 x 10 color glossy photographs” of the evidence and a judge who is blind, and ends up with a draft physical where Arlo, with his conviction for littering, is relegated to the “Group W bench” with the other undesirables rejected for military service because of their criminal records.

A brief digression: Until recently the treasurer’s office was on the second floor of our county’s elegant old courthouse building. You could walk up the sweeping, curved marble staircase on either the right or the left side—not without a passing thought of Scarlett O’Hara in a ball gown—to get to the open hallway in front of the office. Opposite the service windows were two long wooden benches like church pews where you could sit while waiting in line to get your license plates or pay your property taxes. As the person at the end of the bench was called up to one of the windows, everyone in line would slide to the right. The benches had to be the most thoroughly polished pieces of furniture in Pennington County.

Once, when it was my turn at the window, I told the clerk I always thought of the waiting line as the “Group W bench.” He was a man about my age; I didn’t have to explain the reference.

Though I wore my hair long and straight and appliqued more than one heart-shaped patch onto more than one pair of bellbottoms, I was never a hippie. I did not protest the Viet Nam War. The only college building I ever occupied was my dorm. I never participated in a sit-in, a love-in, or a be-in. The only mood-altering plant substances that have ever passed my lips are coffee and chocolate.

But I loved the irony and humor of “Alice’s Restaurant.” Still do, actually.

So I was pleased—at first—to see a news item this week announcing a new tour by Arlo Guthrie. He looked good in the accompanying photo, quite familiar in a cowboy hat with his curly hair flowing past his shoulders. It was a bit disturbing to note that the hair was white. The real distress came, however, when I read the full article. This tour is to celebrate the anniversary of “Alice’s Restaurant.”

The 50th anniversary.

Apparently, you can still get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. You just have to order it off the senior menu.

Categories: Remembering When | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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