April 7, 2006

First Person

The last Pendleton shirt

By Al Carlos Hernandez

As a point of reference, a Pendleton, is a very warm flannel buttoned down collar shirt that comes in many colors, usually plaid. The shirt is the mainstay of a uniform worn by old style Pachucos, Vato Locos, and a few retro Cholo/Homeboys. Street tradition dictates that the shirt, irrespective of weather, is always ironed, creased and worn buttoned to the top no matter what.

Lumberjack and grunge Dudes wear them as well, but seldom compliment the outfit with, Mad dog 64 Sunglasses, a Hairnet, and Stacy Adams shoes.

International social service agency’s have an abiding concern for the Cholos in Fresno, ELA, San Poncho, and the Southwest in general. Health professionals recommend for shirt wearers to drink lots of liquids during the hot summer seasons.

Wearing a flannel over 70 degrees is a quick way to get oneself turned into a pork rind. Experts suggest Homies, should consider the wearing of white Penny’s Health net t-shirts underneath the shirt to avoid itching to death.

A Pendleton can only be worn t-shirtless as a tribal initiation, or if a Homeboy does his own laundry, dying all of his undergarments red or blue, or jumping out of a window avoiding an irate husband or significant other.

I have said all that, to say this, my wife says that my last Pendleton needs to go.

It all happened quite innocently enough after an evening of shopping at the Mall. She took my hands looked deeply into my eyes and said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings but do you know that you look like someone who just got out of prison with that tired old shirt buttoned to the top?”

I was flabbergasted, not really, only Gringos get that. I was pumped.

Here I was thinking that I was looking lean, clean and mean on the retro-cool OG tip, while all of the surveillance cameras were tracking me from store to store like Osama and his Mama.

Would it help if I didn’t button it to the top? No, I would look like a broke down raggedy lumberjack, who got jacked, or the guy who smoked himself from Nirvana and by the way, those Los Lobos sunglasses don’t work anymore either.

There are something’s that guys can wear for years that is a part of their identity. It could be a pair of sneakers, a hat, and a pair of jeans, a member’s only jacket, or a pair of Angel Flight pants, not really I just said that to embarrass a former brother in law. The point remains that there are some very personal articles of clothing for a man that transcends fashion and speaks to a certain masculine tradition.

Button down sweater wearing, turtleneck sporting’ Sociologist’s with round horn rimmed glasses, with their greasy hair whacked to the side, believe that most people like to wear the clothes they wore during the best part of their lives.

I am not so sure if that is true or not, all I know is that it was cold outside and my Pendleton wrapped me like a security blanket. Whoa, I could have just had an epiphany.

The larger issue at steak here is not as much mode of male dress, rather, how far should a man go not to embarrass his lady in public by the way he presents himself?

Men seem oblivious to the notion that when we are in public with our ladies, we are on display as a trophy and or an albatross to those women who don’t have a man. That is why our lady’s like to hold our hands or hook arms to show that we are taken.

Like most men, I want my wife to be proud of me in public while at the same time trying to present an image whereby I can scare other men spit less, all the while inspiring most of the babes to check me out, so my wife realizes what a prize package I am.

After a long and quite literate discussion, we reached a compromise. I will keep the Pendleton and wear it with impunity and immunity around the house, while opting to wear a nice jacket while we are in public together just as long as it’s not the floor length black Australian trench coat with the cape.

It’s a good thing for me she didn’t get a good look at the shoes.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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