Because of Mississippi's hideously hot and humid summers, I grew wearing shorts all summer, every summer, and, except for school hours, much of the spring and fall and some days in what we ironically call our winter as well. But this summer I found myself thinking about giving them up.
For one thing, this summer I discovered that skirts can actually be cooler than shorts. For another, the past year and a half or more, I've been doing a lot of thinking about modesty in dress, and I'm not sure most shorts make the cut. I've also sometimes found myself thinking about how Americans never dress up any more and what that and the tendency of so many adults now to dress in juvenile ways says about us. And then there's my age (35) and my noticing that the old and late-middle-age women I see now don't seem to look as neat and well-put-together as old women used to when I was young. And then there was the Wednesday evening I stopped off at mass on my way to do the shopping and only realized as I walked into the church I was wearing shorts; it was a nice Liz Claiborne shorts and vest set but I felt bad wearing shorts to church, and then I started to wonder why it was okay to wear them elsewhere but not to church. But none of these are the reason.
No, I can recall the moment the decision, such as it is, was made. I was in Wal-Mart, headed for the check-out, when I saw a woman, probably in her early-thirties, of average attractiveness, probably with a kid or two at home, and she was wearing shorts. They weren't too short or too tight. They were normal shorts that came at least half-way down the thigh. On the outside of the thigh, that is. On the inner thigh, they were bunched up so high, the cloth was resting against her crotch. On both of the inner thighs. I know not every woman's shorts ride up that badly and that most women would have done one of those covert "pull the fabric down" moves before they rode up that high, but that visual got to me. Somehow shorts just haven't seemed appealing to me since.