Dick Van Dyke, Fashion Genius?

By Bill Kirk

Some days life unexpectedly presents what can only be described as an unassailable truth. Yesterday was one of those days---actually, it was last night, as I watched an ad about "Mary Poppins," a magical English Nanny back in the day, immortalized in a Disney film that is making a come-back on family TV.

Granted, this topic has nothing to do with writing really. But when such time-tested truth presents itself, it would be unfair to the rest of humanity not to share the revelation. I can only hope that those few of you who stumble across my post might feel sufficiently driven to pass it along---to teens in particular. Some day they might thank you for it.

In the ad, one short scene shows Dick Van Dyke dancing with penguins. No doubt many of you remember it well but you are probably wondering where I'm going with this thread. Well, there Dick Van Dyke was, all decked out in striped jacket, hat, dancing shoes and trousers---the latter downwardly adjusted to make his penguin dancing partners feel right at home.

That's when it hit me: the low-slung pants in that penguin dance 50 years ago were the forerunners of the "below the drawers" style sported by today's teenage boys. Who could have known back then that Dick Van Dyke would be the genius behind the youth fashion movement of today. Admit it. The similarities are uncanny---the low-slung crotch nearly down to the knees, the waist barely suspended from the hips. The only real inter-generational difference is the drawers.

Today any youth hoping to survive the darts and arrows of his high school peers, must "step in time" (another Dick Van Dyke song in "Mary Poppins") with the uniform of the day. The weight of the jeans must be precisely calibrated not to exceed the anti-gravitational resistance of multi-colored drawers, themselves appearing to beg for help from hipbones seeminly not quite up to the task.

Even the walk---or I should say the penguin waddle---looks the same as in the penguin dance. Every three or four steps requires a hitch in the giddy-up to keep jeans and drawers from sliding beyond decency and wearers from falling on their faces. I'm thinking such attire among prison inmates might be almost as effective in escape prevention as ankle chains.

I wonder how long it might take for the slightly off-putting, low-hanging youth fashion to change if teens were to realize that their penguin look isn't irritating to us old folks at all but only humorous and cute---kind of like Dick Van Dyke and his penguin friends?

Something to think about, wouldn't you say?

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