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Crime of Fashion

The long and short of wearing shorts on planes

By Vivian R McInernyPublished 21 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - November 2023
image generated by author using NightCafe

I am not a particularly formal person.

My grammar is lax. My hair probably needs brushing. My housekeeping is casual at best. No kitchen floor is swept before it sounds crunchy.

And if you seat me at a table with more than one fork, I will hesitate before picking up, what may or may not be, the “correct” utensil.

Being lackadaisical on stuffy rules of etiquette is the modern way. And I am totally onboard. I’m part of the culture. Just look at me writing in my sweats and T-shirt!

If it isn’t already obvious, I am trying hard to present myself as a reasonable and rational human being. It is my hope that when I confess my sinfully inconsequential complaint, the reader won’t immediately dismiss me as yet another trifling whiner. Hear me out.

Shorts on planes; they are my petty pet peeve.

And by shorts, I don’t mean those ten-minute darlings of international film festivals.

I’m talking shorts as in the naked lower-leg-calf-baring-half-trouser kind.

Look, I am a reasonable human. Do I expect to see shorts on the beach? Of course. Shorts, for sure!

In a restaurant?

Well, I’m no empath but I can imagine that maybe a person grew urgently hungry while hiking and didn’t have time to run home and change clothes before ordering a bite to eat from a laminated menu with pictures of pancakes and french fries and calorie counts.

That is understandable.

I am not here to fashion shame the wearer of shorts in any situation that might be construed as an emergency.

Say a person was playing a friendly game of pickup when they got an urgent call and had to immediately head to the nearest airport where they and their hairy knees were squeezed into the middle seat of row 21 between two cranky passengers. They have my sympathy.

As do their seat mates.

But say you booked in advance. Maybe after a grinding year of work, you felt more than a little eager to hit vacation mode. In your mind’s eye, you are already drinking tropical drinks with paper umbrellas by the pool. But in the physical world, the one you are currently sharing with approximately four-hundred other people, you are buckled into a seat hurling through the air far above the earth.

Is the wearing of shorts really necessary?

Are your knees that hot?

Maybe concern that your legs will overheat midair on a Boeing 737 warrants dressing like an oversized ten-year-old Boy ScoutComfort comes first.

That is why you often see menopausal woman board in bikinis, no?

When did your Shorts Journey journey begin? That was a combination rhetorical and sarcastic question.

In all seriousness though, when will your Shorts Journey end?

Let’s be reasonable.

Casual, baggy, pull-on shorts with elastic or drawstring waists were made for sport. Unless you intend to shoot hoops with the pilot in the cockpit — and it is probably in the best interest of all aboard that you do not — shorts are not an altogether logical choice.

But what if you were to wear dress shorts, you say.

Those fancy kinds of shorts made of military grade khaki that feature real waistbands and belt loops and lots of flappy pockets to hold all a person might need to survive in the wild are serious and practical, the Swiss army knives of apparel.

In the unlikely event that the plane goes down in a dense jungle those passengers decked out in the survival shorts are set. In that situation, you would have the right to gloat and ridicule my impractically attired self, and I wouldn’t complain. In fact, I wouldn’t say a word.

Because I’d be dead. Right alongside your shorts-clad corpse.

Shorts will not help a body falling 35,000 feet through the air to the ground, unless those calf-less pants billow out in just the right manner to function as a type of parachute. A three-tier ruffled full skirt might be a safer sartorial choice but I wouldn’t bet on it.

My fashion complaint is as petty as petty gets. There are real problems in this world, serious issues that deserve attention.

I’ll try to remember that the next time I am screaming my lungs out at a game because the clock is ticking and the Vikings are three points behind.

I’ll be wearing shorts.


About the Creator

Vivian R McInerny

A former daily newspaper journalist, now an independent writer of essays & fiction published in several lit anthologies. The Whole Hole Story children's book was published by Versify Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021. More are forthcoming.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (13)

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  • Jay Kantor16 days ago

    Dear Vivian - No shirt no "Shorts" no service - Such a 'Briefly' Unusual Topic. I've been following you forever - But, who me, "Lackadaisical" I've neglected to let you know. *I've subscribed to you with pleasure since we are often 'Bunkmates' (metaphorically speaking) within the 'Humor' Department. I'm just a retired highly scrutinized legal writer morphed into a self described 'Goof Writer' nothing more. * I will delete this in a few minutes so not to take up space. - Thanks for the Giggle - Jay Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community.

  • Rana Shafiq18 days ago

    The mention of wearing shorts adds a casual touch, highlighting the contrast between the intensity of global concerns and the everyday passions that bring joy and excitement.

  • Amusing take on air travel dress code… growing up in a tropical area, shorts are worn most places, all year round by males and females.🙃

  • Claire Guérin18 days ago

    I enjoyed your sarcastic tone, but I must say I fail to see the problem. It is my opinion that both men and women should be allowed to dress however they want, shorts, dresses, crop tops, tuxedo... Heck, even PJs are fine! At the end of the day, they are dressed, isn't that the most important thing?

  • PK Colleran19 days ago

    I totally loved this. Ever since I moved to Florida I've had this inexplicable unease ☺️... And you so artfully nailed it. I'm still laughing. Great writing. 🥇🏆😎

  • Mamunal19 days ago

    Shorts on planes—a humorous yet relatable take on attire! Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Naveed19 days ago

    Amazing job! Keep up the outstanding work—congrats!❤️❤️

  • Babs Iverson20 days ago

    Entertaining and humorous read!!! Love it!!💕❤️❤️

  • Mr Ahsan20 days ago

    Very Weldon your are doing well. Congrats on top story

  • Alexander McEvoy20 days ago

    I don’t mind shorts on planes so much. I typically dress in a polo shirt and trousers when I fly but that also how I dress every day. What bothers me is sandals, flip flops, or otherwise. Why do those people think the rest of us want to be stuck on a 14 hour flight with their feet in the open air? Boggles the mind.

  • JBaz20 days ago

    I have mixed feelings on this, maybe they do it for comfort on a long flight? I know people who wear shorts all year round, and no I do not live on a tropical paradise. ( now that I have an issue with, it’s snowing outside , put on some pants . Congratulations on TS

  • Gerald Holmes20 days ago

    Well done. I agree!! Congrats on Top Story

  • Judey Kalchik 20 days ago

    I love this. I worked with someone that had a similar firm belief that all shoes should have solid toe caps are toes weren't meant to be seen. I also love your timing, the way you take that shorts-aficionado through the plan scenario only to let them know they, too, would not survive the crash.

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