RISE UP, YOUNG
MAN, RISE UP

     My oldest son is no longer a teenager. He turned 20 yesterday, and I only had one question for him.
     "Does this mean youíre going to pull your pants up?" I asked.
     He responded the same way he did the 1000 other times I asked the question. "Nope."
     I realize every generation has their fashion quirks. Mine was bellbottoms and Frye boots. Iím sure my parents werenít always thrilled with my choice of clothes when I went out in public. I know my wife continues to feel the same way.
     But my fashion sense is impeccable when compared to the mind-boggling insistence of my sons and their male friends to firmly hike their pants no further than the bottom of their butts.
     I can place the exact moment it all began. It was about 10 years ago, when the boys were playing Little League. We were short on players, so we recruited their best friend, Brian, to play. We didnít have any extra uniforms, so he wore his baggy jeans.
     At a key moment in the game, Brian was on first base and somebody hit a single. Brian rounded second and motored towards third. Thatís when his pants fell down to his ankles, and he went sprawling onto the dirt. He tried to get up, but fell again. He ended up crawling to third, his pants dragging behind. He was tagged out, but it didnít matter. Iíve never laughed so hard in my life. Watching him struggle with his pants around his ankles was absolutely hilarious. Everyone was in hysterics, including my sons.
     Unfortunately, their little 9 and 10 year old warped brains apparently also thought it was the coolest thing theyíd ever seen, because they havenít pulled their pants up since. I should have known the fashion trend was there to stay when that very same Christmas they oohed and aahed when opening their presents.
     Iíd say that was natural, but the particular presents were patterned boxer shorts. What kid ever got excited about getting underwear for Christmas? Little did I know the boxer shorts were going to be their most visible article of clothing.
    Over the years, I tried everything to dissuade them from this ridiculous and pathetic fashion trend. In particular, I can remember one night when I was sure I could convince them.
    "I heard from someone today where this Ďhanging pantsí idea came from," I said casually over dinner.
    They looked at each other suspiciously. "Where?"
    "Prisons," I replied. "If a convict wore his pants below his waist it meant he wanted to have sex."
    The only thing raised were eyebrows. The pants went nowhere. But it was a start.
    A few weeks later, I was flipping through the television channels and came across one of the cop shows. A helicopter was following some kid through alleys and backyards as he tried to escape apprehension.
    "Hey, boys, come here, watch this!!" I cried. My sons shuffled into the family room and we all watched as the poor kid tried to run from the police, but couldnít make much headway because he had one hand on his pants trying, unsuccessfully, to hold them up.
    "See," I patiently explained as the police put the kid in handcuffs. "Youíll never be able to run from the police unless you pull your pants up. I hope youíve learned a lesson here."
    The next day their pants were probably another inch or two lower. Thatís when I gave up.
    Since then there has been absolutely no progress. Their pants continue to hang, at best, halfway down their skinny little butts. Every Christmas or birthday, they continue to be thrilled when they open a present of new boxer shorts. And they didnít think it was all that funny the year we gave them Tidey-Whiteys.
    There are moments when I can see the future. Last summer they both worked as waiters, and they were forced by the dress code to pull their pants up. I ate at that restaurant almost every day, just so I could see what the future would hold.
     But as soon as they got home, the shirt came out and the pants dropped. They claim holding their pants with one hand as they shuffle through life is more comfortable than a waist-high look with a belt.
    Oh, well. It will happen someday. Whether itís a job interview or prison, it will happen. The pants will rise again.
 

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