Why are you wearing that?

I reached (I won’t say celebrated) my 60th birthday last month. As I get older, I’m discovering I’m more and more curmudgeonly on more and more subjects. This morning I heard a quotation of John Adams, founding father of the U.S., that reassures me I’m not alone:

“In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.”

Now, I have no intention of getting involved in commentary on our current political atmosphere. I mention this quotation merely to make the point that I feel justified in my increasing grumpiness about the world as I find it.

Some examples, all observed on a recent trip to North Myrtle Beach:

1. When did the fashion for men’s bathing suits abandon practicality and comfort? While designers of women’s suits seem to be focused on baring as much skin as possible, they have also made the suits light-weight and, if you buy the proper styles (my wife says), comfortable. The result is that women can swim or sun themselves pretty easily. They have a wide range of types of coverage available, from nearly naked to practical and relatively modest. I’ve not seen a single women’s bathing suit, for example, that covers the knees, but many cover the stomach.

Men, however, are stuck with ridiculous looking (and feeling) trunks that extend from the knees or below up to the waist. These things weigh a ton when wet (young boys are frequently outweighed by their wet swimwear). They dredge up sand and hold it in areas very dear to most men. In fact, I’ve known guys to cut the linings out so they wouldn’t have to abandon their beach trip because of chafing.

A few years ago, I watched women struggle to keep their suits adjusted when swimming. Designers seem to have addressed many of those issues, and the women I watched at the beach (strictly in the interests of research for this blog, you understand) were able to swim or play in the surf with relative ease.

The men, on the other hand, were constantly tugging at the 20 pounds of wet fabric that weighed down their lower bodies. Running while wet looked akin to dragging a bag of cement across the beach.

Why didn’t I have so much trouble? I rebelled from buying one of these monstrosities, and did my beach visiting in my old Nike running shorts. They look like a 20-year-old swimsuit, and behave similarly. I can sun my kneecaps, play in the water, or run along the beach in complete comfort.

Admittedly I look like an old geezer who won’t buy a new swimsuit, but I’m beginning not to resent that reputation as much as I once did. Next year you might see me on the beach in my wingtips and black dress socks, Bermuda shorts, and flowered shirt.

2. When did people decide it’s easier to type with your thumbs than talk?

We were a two-car caravan to the beach. We made sure there were cell phones in both cars so we could keep in touch. When somebody needed to stop for gas or needed a break, my instinct was to have a passenger call a cell in the other car.

It strikes me as technology that works — you can talk directly and clarify your message immediately as needed. You know the message was received, and you can negotiate changes in plans instantly.

My daughter and her husband, who were in the other car, see things differently. When they needed to stop, they sent a text message. Joyce would text an answer as quickly as possible, so inevitably we were past the exit they wanted to stop at before we received and responded. Not wanting to separate the caravan, they would throw up their hands in frustration as we motored on. Another round of text would ensue, with mounting frustration and impatience all around, not to mention bursting bladders.

“Why can’t we just talk on the cellphone?” I would growl.

“Their generation just doesn’t do that,” Joyce would reassure me.

“Well, mine does,” I finally grouched. “Call them.”

She did, and we got our stop at the next available exit.

Sorry, but I agree with Jay Leno: texting seems like something that should have existed before we had the ability of two-way voice communication.

I know that qualifies me as a geezer (as does my use of a grandpa box to write instead of using a keyboard-less tablet or smart phone), but you young’uns will remember that I told you so when you develop severe arthritis in your thumbs.


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