Brian Logan never wears pants. The former general manager and still barista bravissimo of Theo’s Coffeehouse spends his days behind a serving counter, so you may not have noticed that he always wears shorts.
“I don’t even own any long pants anymore,” he admits. He’s not militant about his clothing choices. He keeps a pair of dress pants in case he gets invited to a wedding, for instance, but he hasn’t worn them in five years. He doesn’t know if they still fit.
“Maybe I’d have to borrow a pair.” He clearly isn’t seeing long pants in his long future. But what about those few days when it gets really cold? “Wool socks, layers, a scarf.” Even his answers are short.
I asked Brian whether he notices others who eschew long pants year round. “No, not really,” he answers, then pauses, as if a new idea had just entered his head.
When out-of-town friends test my contention that we have the perfect climate, I tell them on any day of the year, I can show them men in shorts and women with jackets.
We celebrate a diversity of dress codes in Lane County. Look over a symphony audience and you’ll find the occasional tie dye, but if you look harder, you might be surprised to see how many are wearing sandals.
For years, meteorologist John Fischer wore standard newscaster garb on KEZI, knowing the camera would never catch his naked toes peeping out his Birkenstocks.
On the other foot, you can wander through Saturday Market wearing neatly pressed duds, but people are likely to suspect you’re either a visitor or Up To Something.
If we sometimes take ourselves too seriously, you wouldn’t know it by how we dress. We’re more honest than most in this fashion, wearing our hearts on our sleeves, or on our lack of sleeves.
But tolerance is tested at the extremes, and I could feel my own getting wobbly when Shirley Gauthier called. She’s a committee chair for the Willamettans Family Nudist Resort near Marcola. They and their affiliates across the country are attempting to stage the world’s largest skinny dip this Saturday, Guinness requires witnesses, and so came the invitation.
“Do I have to look?” I asked, after first establishing that I would be allowed to remain fully clothed.
“The word they use is ‘witness’,” Shirley replied, as if deferring to my wordsmithery skills. We know from following criminal justice that witnesses often are not very observant, so the bar was set comfortably low. I won’t be required to count; only attest that I was there and that the event occurred.
Judging is not appropriate for an event where all the pretense of clothing is dropped. You cannot dress down those who are not dressed. We differentiate ourselves by what we wear, so without it there’s only who we are. And so my role seemed more of a bystander than any sort of overseer.
My friend Linda encouraged me. “Please DO observe! What an opportunity! To see the diversity of skin-encased beings, from the young to old, obese to sleek and tanned, from the apple shape, to bean, pear and plum.” She made it seem more like a fruit salad than a parade of humanity. And who doesn’t love fruit salad?
I accepted. And the best part? They’re giving me a commemorative T-shirt, which seems as appropriate as a gold-plated hot fudge sundae for a Weight Watchers convention or an engraved crutch for winning a track meet. But hey, it’s their party. I’m only there to watch, or observe, or witness.
Never mind this weekend’s event will likely attract fewer nudists than a different fete west of town. They will have plenty of witnesses near Veneta.
Don Kahle (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes a weekly column for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com. Saturday’s skinny dip is free for visitors. Registration begins at 10 AM. The skinny dip is scheduled for noon. The Willamettans is a year-round licensed RV park with a pool, hot tub, sauna, volleyball, tennis, rentals and camping areas. More information at www.willamettans.com or 541-933-2809.