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Monday, October 04, 2010

Man-skirts

One of the primary tasks of a competent parent is to embarrass his/her children at regular intervals.  Such embarrassment can come in many forms, including (but not limited to):

  • kissing them in public
  • describing their childhood exploits to strangers
  • showing pictures of them as babies (preferably in the bathtub)
  • attempting to use teen slang in a public setting
  • acknowledging their existence at the mall

You get the idea.

But for raw blockbuster mortification potential, almost nothing beats having dad walk around the house (or worse, in public!) wearing a skirt.

It all started way back in the early eighties while I was in the Navy, when I spent some time in Berbera Somalia at the height of a blistering summer heat wave. 

While my shipmates and I sweated through our clothing and could barely drink enough bottled water to keep up with the loss of body fluids, the local men were walking around cool as cucumbers wearing tattered tee-shirts and light, wrap around cotton man-skirts. 

[ed note:  The Somali women were bundled in impossibly hot clothing so I have no idea how they survive the summers.  Maybe they don't.] 

I immediately bought a couple of these sarong-like man-skirts, and aaaaahhhhh... from that point on I was hooked on the idea of airing out my 'junk' when the weather turned hot.

 The problem is, outside of Africa and Asia, a man can't really get away with wearing a skirt (unless he is Scottish, of course).  A speedo yes.  But a skirt?  No.  Go figure!

Anyway, a few years ago I stumbled on a casual adaptation of the scottish kilt called the Utilikilt:

Ukilt1 
This seemed to be the perfect solution.  A casual summer-time clothing option that offered unlimited ventilation to 'the crew', but which didn't scream "ah-five-six-seven-eight... look at me as a go swish!" to passers-by.  I think I wrote about it here.

Sadly, I'm not nearly brave enough to be a trend-setter, and no matter how tempting those ulitlikilts might be, unless they became ubiquitous, there was no way I was buying one, much less venturing out in one.

Then I started traveling to India frequently for business.  And once again I was confronted with sweltering hot weather, and a native population of sensible skirt-wearing men.  In their case it was called either a Lungi or a Dhoti (depending on color, length and style of wrapping it).

This past July I traveled to the southern India state of Tamil Nadu, and found myself looking longingly at the cool, dry men walking around in their Lungis and Dhotis, while I sweated through three or four changes of western clothes per day.  After a particularly scorching afternoon I finally went to the local shopping district and bought myself a few Lungis.

[cue angels singing]

Three words:    Oh.     My.     G-d.

Lungi1 

Lungi2 
Now, before you start worrying that I've taken leave of my senses, I am perfectly aware that I can't show up to business meetings wearing a glorified diaper. 

But outside the office in 110 degree heat and 100% humidity?  Swaddle me, baby!

When I got home to Israel and started unpacking my suitcase, the family gathered around in anticipation (justified) of being showered with gifts.  But once they'd gotten their loot, they noticed me taking out a few big folded pieces of fabric and asked me what they were. 

I'm just sorry I didn't have the forethought to capture their faces on digital film.  My wife simply acted as though I'd lost my mind and went back to organizing the bathroom swag. 

But the kids... oh my, the kids. Written across their horrified faces was the awful realization that their father was going to humiliate them beyond anything any child in the history of the world had ever had to endure.

After a little negotiation, Ari and Gili were able to extract a vague promise from me not to wear the Lungis out of the house.  But near the end I reserved the right to wear a lungi at the beach or near a pool.  They weren't happy, but it was better than what they were probably imagining.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks to our trip to the US.  My younger sister invited us to her club in Westchester where she liked to take her kids to swim.  It was a plush place with multiple pools, carefully manicured lawns and people who sounded like Thurston Howel III ("Look Lovey... someone let riff raff into the club."). 

When we arrived and got changed, my kids began looking for places to hide when I emerged from the locker room wearing a tee shirt... and a faded orange cotton lungi.

Zahava simply shook her head and wandered off to swim.  But my little sister actually loved the thing.  So much so, that by the end of the afternoon she asked me to pick her up a couple of Lungis on my next trip to India.  As a reward for her compliments I gave her the Lungi I'd been wearing (Relax!  I had swim trunks on underneath.  Sheesh, I'm not a barbarian!!!).

Anyhoo, since we've been back home, Israel has been experiencing a record heat wave, and summer has continued on through the Sukkot holiday and into October. 

So, whenever I have to do heavy lifting around the house such as cooking or 'sponga' (think really sloppy mopping with a rag and a squeegee) I now routinely wear a Lungi.  Occasionally, if it is really hot around the house, I'll put on a Lungi just for lounging around.

Strangely, the kids have been inviting their friends over less and less.  I wonder why that is?!

Posted by David Bogner on October 4, 2010 | Permalink

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What, no pic of you in a lungi?

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Oct 4, 2010 1:18:34 PM

Trep, I really love you. Only this could make me feel better about being called "the most embarrassing mom in the world".

Posted by: Raizy | Oct 4, 2010 1:59:39 PM

If you are looking for a skirt wearing male role model you could do a lot worse than David Beckham - remember the whole saronng saga back in 2006??

Posted by: Skaj | Oct 4, 2010 3:01:24 PM

Photos. We want photos.

If I can post photos of me wearing a colander upon my head, surely you can favor us with a Lungi-Shot.

Posted by: Elisson | Oct 4, 2010 4:27:47 PM

Surprised you didn't go for the "so embarrassed they coughed up a Lungi" line.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 4, 2010 5:11:46 PM

Yeah, so, on a completely unrelated note, I want to tell you that one of the guys in OK Go always reminds me of you. He's the one who starts out on the far left (from the viewer's point of view) in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHlJODYBLKs&feature=recentlik

Posted by: Sarah | Oct 4, 2010 6:38:52 PM

Many / most of the islands in the S. Pacific have "man skirts" as their smart attire. It is not unusual at airports here to see a 6'8" guy wearing a smart "skirt" made of grey flannel or black wool, highly polished shoes and matching socks and tailored jacket. These chaps are big enough and strong enough to flick you to the other side of the airport apron if you as much as smiled at their attire.

Enjoy wearing your lungi - they are very practical.

Posted by: Kiwi Noa | Oct 4, 2010 7:49:14 PM

One of my favorite comic sites, The Oatmeal, gave his view on Utilikilts some time ago:

http://theoatmeal.com/blog/utilikilt

(Oh, and I'm with the other commenters ... pictures, we want pictures.)

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Oct 4, 2010 9:37:08 PM

That is awesome! I totally would wear one around the house (And maybe even beyond)

Posted by: Bryan | Oct 4, 2010 10:36:29 PM

Utilikilts are quite popular here in Oregon, particularly among software developers and outdoor enthusiasts.

I love it that the guy wearing one in that picture is chopping wood. How manly!

(Except all I hear is, "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok...")
;)

Posted by: Tzipporah | Oct 4, 2010 10:58:02 PM

Who knew Trepp was such a fashionista?

But I won't believe you until I see a picture.

Perhaps you can also include a man-purse to complete the outfit.

Posted by: Baila | Oct 4, 2010 11:49:45 PM

And that, class, is what we call "the ultimate fadichah"... :-)

Posted by: Mrs.S. | Oct 5, 2010 12:15:27 AM

Utilikilts are really popular with computer and scifi geeks. They all wear them to the cons.
And when I was a volunteer all the guys came back from trips to Egypt with a 'bespoke' galabyia.

Personally I'm not so fond of wearing a skirt but then you guys don't wear them with panyhose.

Posted by: Esther | Oct 5, 2010 6:26:42 AM

If you wear swim trunks underneath, of what utility is the lungi?

Posted by: Henry | Oct 5, 2010 4:28:46 PM

I'm reminded of the episode of "Home Improvement" when Tim and Al go to a Scottish festival to participate in a caber toss. They are both wearing kilts. Tim says something like "Boy I wish they had underwear with this. Al says "You're supposed to wear underwear with it, Tim." Insert deer in headlights look. I wish I was bold enough to try the Utilikilt though.

Posted by: JDMDad | Oct 6, 2010 12:12:36 AM

Nice

Posted by: jo | Oct 7, 2010 2:35:31 PM

Coming from a man who wishes to wear a skirt, in the US, and throw embarassment to the wind, I think I might try one of these skirts your talking about. The black one, lol.

Posted by: Nicolas | Nov 13, 2010 6:50:38 PM

I wear a skirt everyday,to work and when im not at work.I am just the same person as if i was wearing jeans,which i dont wear but maybe once a month at most.You should try it some time,then you would know why guys like skirts.And just a FYI,women adopted the skirt from the mens wardrobe,AND it wasnt until the 1930’s or so til women wore pants when women first started wearing pants,and they had the risk of being arrest.Do a google search on the history of the skirt.Dont be affraid.And most women like to see a guy in a skirt.As of last night i was standing in line at the cash register,the was a woman behind me and she said,” i really like your skirt” i then said ” thanks”.I told her “im was tired of just wearing pants”,she then said“i dont blame you,skirts are much better”….so give it a try,you will see what i am saying…

Posted by: Blake | Dec 25, 2011 11:31:28 PM

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