Older folks always seem to be lamenting the fashions and trends of "kids today," but Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley recently took a time-honored tradition (complaining about the younger generation) a step further when he asked council members to seriously consider new "decency" laws that would patrol "offensive" clothing worn on the boardwalk. The most eyebrow-raising stipulation is the proposed "saggy pants ban," under which anyone wearing pants three inches or more below the waistline would be fined $25.
I have to wonder if Mr. Ashley has seen a bathing suit in the last twenty years.
I'm being quite serious. Assuming you've been to the beach in the last decade, you know that the outfits are only getting skimpier. Not only are revealing bathing suits de rigueur, but thong bikinis seem to be increasingly popular with the younger set. Scandalous, I know, but consider this: on my last vacation I had to endure the sight of multiple middle-aged men - who, I must point out, were paunchy and pale, unlike their younger thong-wearing counterparts - in Speedos. Now you tell me, who amongst us is suffering the most?
So picking on baggy-pants-wearers seems not only random and petty, but also foolish. It's like putting a Bandaid on a gunshot wound - both senseless and futile. You can't stop the progression of a trend, and it seems we youngsters will only start to cover ourselves up once being naked has become stale and mundane. Might as well let fashion run its course in the least formal environment possible. After all, they have nude beaches in Europe.
If that doesn't sound like an appealing option, however, perhaps Mr. Ashley would consider being more unbiased about his laws and take a good, hard look at the entire beach-going population. Fine the seniors in Speedos and the leathered old ladies in bikinis, too, Mr. Ashley, because I find your generation just as capable, and culpable, of indecency as you seem to find mine.
There's also one final possibility, of course; we could simply leave things as they are. We could all be adults and realize that no one is going to be emotionally scarred by the sight of another person's half-naked body. (I myself have gone to the beach every year and have yet to sign myself into a mental institution after seeing one too many teeny bikinis.) But maybe that's asking too much of a man whose singular ambition is to police the inches of exposed underwear sported by other men.
Permit me to let you men of the younger generations in on a little secret. Getting old sucks. No, that's not the secret. The secret is that every year more and more women look good. When I was a teenager and a college student, I was very picky. Today, almost every female under forty appears to be a passable date, if I were single. This seems to be one of the few real advantages of old age.
That being said, Mr. Ashley, I'm afraid you will never recruit me to your cause.
However, let's all be honest. The harsh reality is that of the seven billion of us tramping around on this groaning planet, something like 6.9 billion look better fully clothed. The kids with their fannies hanging out are (mostly) among the .1 billion who actually look their best stark naked or thereabouts.
So I must throw in my lot with Claire and urge an ordinance that severely fines those members of my generation who lack the good taste and good sense to keep our beer bellies and bubble booties under wraps… while encouraging Claire's generation to let it all hang out. Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.