Column: Don’t sag, you might get fined

You may be surprised to learn that a
handful of towns and cities in America have passed laws againstSagpants
sagging. But
don’t worry, ladies, it’s nothing against you. Unless you wear your pants too
low, that is.

That type of sagging has been popular among youngsters for
years. It all started in the fall of 1992 when a teen-age boy in Los Angeles,
rushing to get to school, forgot to pull his jeans all the way up. The boy
happened to be a star on the high school football team, so everything he did was
considered “cool.” Pretty soon, dozens of boys were walking around with their
pants hanging halfway down their butts, looking like they escaped from the
nearby psychiatric hospital. A few girls followed suit, excited that everyone
would now know that they wore designer underwear.

What started in one
school spread like a disease to many others, all over the world, prompting
Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran to give a sermon on the “evil trouser styles of the
West.” Signs in many mosques were updated to say: “Don’t swear. Don’t stare.
Don’t show your underwear.”

Many adults in the western world were just
as displeased about the trend, believing that it fell somewhere between
“indecent" and “inane.” While youngsters thought they were making a fashion
statement, the only statement adults could detect was: "Duh, my jeans have
fallen, and I can’t get them up."

The idea of wearing pants so low was
particularly appalling to men in their sixties and seventies, many of whom had
made it a habit to pull their pants up to their armpits.

Only a small
proportion of adults seemed to approve of the fashion trend. Most were
middle-aged men who didn’t pull their pants up either, because their bellies got
in the way.

Nosagging_2
Many adults hoped the style would eventually lose its
appeal. But it’s still popular to this day, causing some communities to take
drastic action. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, several towns in
Louisiana, Georgia and Florida have outlawed low-slung pants, while big cities
like Atlanta, Baltimore and Dallas are considering doing the same, evidently
hoping to score points with the Ayatollah.

The city of Pine Lawn, Missouri,
just passed a law against any sagging that exposes underwear or bare skin.
Violators face a $100 fine. Even parents could be fined $500 or sentenced to 90
days in jail.

Priest: “Hello there. You must be my new cellmate. I’m
here for pulling a boy’s pants down. What are you here for?”

Parent:
“I’m here for not pulling a boy’s pants up.”

Pine Lawn’s officials hope
the law improves the city’s image, which has been drooping even lower than
teen-ager’s pants. "Fashion and being almost half-naked are two different
things," Police Chief Rickey Collins told the Post-Dispatch. "We want violators
to know that this is a great concern, that the public doesn’t tolerate
it."

But most youngsters like to be positive. They don’t see themselves
as half-naked. They see themselves as half-dressed.

Any law against
exposing part of your butt is bound to be challenged in court, not just by the
American Civil Liberties Union, but also by the American Plumbers Union. As one
plumber asked, “Do we really need another law against crack?”

Photo by Eleventh Earl, Illustration by Jenny Bowman

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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