The bright red underwear was hard to miss.
I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I moved into the left turn lane for Moffat Boulevard as I was driving down South Main Street in Manteca.
I came to a stop at the light and turned my head for a better look.
It was a guy, perhaps 20 years old. He was wearing his pants midway between his hips and knees with a large belt holding them in place. He was wearing bright red boxers that were covered just a tad from the prerequisite T-shirt four sizes too large that he had partially tucked in on his left hip. He started walking — strike that — waddling bow-legged style across Moffat.
Then the song started playing in my head: “Bring in the Clowns.”
All these years I had been laboring under the false assumption that “dudes” who wore pants in such a manner leaving no doubt about their underwear preference or the color they were wearing did so as an act of defiance or a desire to make a bizarre fashion statement.
Low riders are simply clowns in training.
Urban lore says drooping pants was a fashion trend started in prison to send a specific message. Whether that’s true there’s never been a reason floated as why to the belt line continued to migrate toward the knee.
It’s now obvious. They’re channeling the clowns of Ringling Brothers fame. You know the ones. They pedal around on small bicycles wearing pants two sizes too big that slip down showing their outrageously colored underwear with their faces covered in clown paint with “body modifications” such as bulbous noses.
Look around. You’ll see them on the streets of Manteca. They’re young adult men wearing modern-day zoot suits belted a few inches about their knees wearing a T-shirt four sizes too big for Mama Cass, wearing ear rings instead of bulb noses with massive tattoos replacing clown paint as they pedal their kid brother’s version of the Sting Ray from the 1960s.
They are all part of the brotherhood of clowns.
Now I’m sure that those who are in their 30s still dressing like Bozo the Clown wannabes probably have a disdain for my clothing choices.
But look at it this way — from what I can tell most of them have taken their mother’s advice and make sure their underwear doesn’t have any holes in them in case they have to go to the hospital emergency room.
They also have taken steps it appears to make sure they don’t incur wardrobe malfunctions — the trendy euphemism for flashing.
By now it is clear the droopy pants and the extreme gravity defying mid-thigh pants aren’t simply a trend. They’ve been around years before phones got smart and folks ever gave much thought to the World Trade Center.
It honestly doesn’t bother me that grown men want to dress like teen boys that are rebelling against everything because that’s what their hormones and impulsive thinking lead them to believe is the cool thing to do — to each their own.
That said, I don’t get why they think it is cool to walk around exposing their underwear.
A few years back one guy told me that girls — actually he used the “b” word — liked it and thought it was cool. Well, okay, he didn’t say “cool.” He used the “b” word with “ing” on the end.
On Tuesday I asked three teen girls what they thought about guys exposing their underwear. One thought it was stupid. One was neutral. And the other thought they had no respect for themselves. None of them liked the practice. But then again I may have asked the wrong girls since I’m sure if I had referred to them by the “b” word I’d get a well-deserved slap on the face or would be trying to explain myself to someone in authority.
For most folks that believe Droopy should be used to describe one of the Seven Dwarfs and not the manner in which pants are worn, the shock value of such fashion disappeared a long time ago. Such low-brow style is little more than background noise for most people any more.
But every once in a while those who act as if they have no idea where their waists are located do manage to get your attention by wearing underwear so bright that it tells the world to look at them as they waddle across the street.
And the world looks — just like they do at clowns.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.