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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  May 25, 2008
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A fashion fad that needs to end.

When I was in my early teens I wanted a motorcycle jacket in the worst way. A lot of guys had them and I wanted to look cool. Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time), all of my “want” ran up against my dad.

“Where’s your motorcycle?”

“What?”

“I said, ‘Where’s your motorcycle?’ A leather jacket isn’t going to make you anything you aren’t.”

It took me a long time to understand his point, but things got a little clearer when, several years later, I came across a quote that went something like this:

“I see by your clothes, you’re a sailor. I’ll get me some clothes and I can be a sailor too.”

What brings all of this up was something I saw while driving home the other night. There was this young kid at a bus stop dancing to whatever noise was entering his skull via his earphones. “Dancing,” in this instance, mostly involved strutting around while throwing hand signs around like the universe actually cared what they meant.

I should add that this kid’s hooded coat was about four sizes too large and was being worn over a t-shirt that fell below his knees. There, his bunched-up pants were piled atop oversize shoes that were minus laces.

Unfortunately, I think that the “thug” style of dress still has a ways to run before we’re rid of it, but it’s already reached the point of such utter ridiculousness that perhaps - and this is a big perhaps - even the “wannabes” may soon realize that they look like nothing more than a bunch of doofuses.

My guess is that this kid was trying for the “I’m tough” look popularized by those who wear this getup, but what his outfit mostly did was start me thinking.

What I was thinking was that, somewhere along the line, we (adults) missed the chance to say: “So you think that wearing clothes that make you look like insolent, foul-mouthed brutes are going to paint you as being tough? Hate to break the news but, as for being truly tough, it’s a case of not having the motorcycle to go with the jacket.”

Somewhere along the line, we missed the chance to them what tough really is. We missed the chance to tell them that “tough” is recognizing when you’re hanging out with a bunch of losers and deciding to walk away before you end up in a situation that has nothing but “bad” written all over it.

Tough is having the guts to admit that willfully choosing to be pig ignorant most likely isn’t the path to a bright future.

Tough is deciding, despite the scorn of your “peers,” to work your way up the behavior scale rather than trying to see just how low you can sink.

Tough is learning how to earn and keep the respect of others.

Tough is continuing to try even in the face of failure rather than quitting to spend your time on some corner bitching and moaning about how bad everything is.

Tough is taking responsibility for and accepting the consequences of your actions.

Tough is avoiding fights but, when pushed into one, becoming someone truly not to be messed with.

Here’s something else we should have mentioned: Tough doesn’t always show through. Tough is often hidden in unlikely places.

The toughest guy I ever knew stood about 5’ 6” tall and weighed in on the near side of 155 pounds. If you ever pushed his magic button, though, the world as you knew it was about to change dramatically.

If they need a picture, we could tell them that real toughness is like a rock hidden under about an inch of dirt. You don’t know it’s there until you run your shovel into that dirt and get stopped cold by an unyielding piece of stone.

After seeing that kid the other night, though, I think we still haven’t gotten through with the message and, in fact, I worry that we may not even be trying to send it.

Still, I’m hoping that this latest fashion fad has about run its course.

It’s gone on for too long and I know I’m not alone in my thinking that looking like some brutish clown isn’t having the desired effect on many of us any more - if it ever did.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.


Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2008 by Larry Simoneaux
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