Friday, January 12, 2007

The Polo Situation.

Never has one piece of clothing changed so much, by changing so little. Skirts changed fabrics, got shorter, got longer, and then got shorter again thank goodness. Jeans got loose. Hats got lower. Bandanas were worn; scarves came back (my doing). And polos, um well…they had their collar flipped. Or popped I should say, don’t think I’m not down with the lingo. Admittedly I’ve been wearing polos since a small child. And when the collars got popped I thought it was the coolest thing. First, not too many people popped the collar. I had my collar popped, it was a bit…dare I say trendy. Some people thought it dumb.

“I’m not ‘popping’ my collar," they said.

My parents thought it was just a baby trend. (babies are stupid).

“Keep your collar flipped down,” they said, “it looks messy.”

“Oh no, Maaa! This collar is staying POPPED!” I exclaimed.

Sometimes people would say,

“Look at this guy with his collar up.”

I felt good.

But sometime in the night a change happened. Kanye West… popped his collar. Now all collars were being popped everywhere. I was fine with it at first. It was like a mass change in fashion, a uniform uprising. Like, ripped denim in the late 80’s. But no…not an uprising at all. Just when everyone started popping their collars, the anti-poppers well…stopped being anti. My mom thought my popped collar looked nice. This forty year old fat dude had his collar popped in Wendy’s. Suddenly my popped collar didn’t seem nearly as quote unquote, cool, anymore. This was a serious issue. My emotions were conflicted. Yes, I like my popped collar, I like how it looks, but I don’t like everyone and their grandmother doing it too. I literally saw that everyone under thirty-five wearing a polo had their collar popped, and a lot of people older did too. Only a small minority didn’t, and you did not want to be them. On survivor I remember a gay dude was on it. He wore a red polo, collar popped. I turned my off TV, disgusted. Is he surviving!? Or…izing? Brand names like Industry had polos, collars pre-popped with “Industry” at the back. So people could see it when your collar was popped. I once saw my dad at a social interaction with his collar popped.

In a hysterical fit I actually un-popped my collars. Now it just felt wrong. I didn’t care it was my attempt at anti-culturing the anti-culture, which was now pop-culture. But it couldn’t be done. My then girlfriend told me I looked better with my collar up, and would proceed to pop it for me. I turned away, so she couldn’t see the tears. It was true, I did. For several weeks I didn’t know what to do. The popped collar looked practically robotic to me now. But deep down I knew the decision was already made. One night looking into my closet trying to decide what to wear the next day(I do this because I wake up late and then can’t decide what to wear and sometimes this results in me being late for class and forgetting my belt) I put polos on notice. Gathering all my polos I hung them in the very corner of said closet with a note saying, “Not to be worn until the tide goes down.” It was an emotional decision. But one I felt confident making as I was already into a new shirt. The graphic tee, and I proceeded to wear a mix of graphic tees, (sometimes over a long tee for added warmth) button up westerns, striped sweaters, and the zip-up hoodie. Probably the greatest clothing invention ever made, I love me some zip up. Despite my confidence in the new lineup, I couldn’t kid myself. Polos were still and are still the shirt of choice for many. They are cool. Girls like them. This fact became evident when a female work associate of mine asked me,

“Can’t you just wear like…a polo once?”

I remember one incident before the actual ban, but when I started wearing polos less frequently, I wore a gray polo (collar popped) to work. My female manager told me.

“That’s a nice fit.”

That’s a nice fit…gimme a break! Admit it, you like the popped collar.

There is no denying it, the polo has changed drastically although barely really changing at all. We can’t help it human culture is always in a state of fluctuation. I mourn for my beloved polo, but I know its in good hands. I wave goodbye as if it was a departing friend. And maybe it is. But I know one day we will be reunited.