← How to wear shorts during winter

I’ve always prided myself on not having a rebellious phase as a kid. That I didn’t decide to have an adolescent encounter with smoking, drugs, or some other thing parents deem terrible. Yet looking back, I’m realizing that this goody two-shoes narrative is a complete and utter lie. I certainly had a rebellious phase, and my idol was a friend named B.

B wasn’t your traditional iconoclast. In fact, one would struggle to find anything that could inspire bad behavior, must less rebellion. He was a straight A student, played on our varsity sports team, and was known for being friendly to everyone. Even if in theory you should be jealous of him, he would kill you with kindness. There was no way to dislike the guy. Don’t let that fool you though. Beneath the crew cut and affable personality, there was one small ember that sparked the flame of my rebellion: his fashion. Whether heat waves radiated from rain-worn sidewalks or snow-filled clouds were on a warpath over surrounding mountains, B would always wear a t-shirt and shorts.

In stark contrast to his laissez-faire casualness, my preteen world was one punctuated by sweaters, jackets, and long pants. The moment my tattered school calendar flipped to August, the slumbering khakis would come out of hibernation, and no matter how hard I searched, my shorts could not be found.

Even without my weapon of choice, there were still ways to fight back against motherly tyranny. Some days it was “forgetting” my sweater. Other times, I’d “run late” without my snow coat. Usually, I’d slink back in after my mom’s singsong “If you get sick, I won’t be home to take care of you” scared enough sense into me.

A decade later, I’m now at university, and no one is there to yell at me for not wearing enough. To make matters worse, I’m a terrible klutz when it comes to checking weather. I’ve worn nice shoes out on rainy days. I’ve worn hats on cloudy days. I’m truly a travesty when it comes to wearing weather appropriate clothing. But perhaps what’s most damning is that I’ll wear a t-shirt and shorts on cold days.

Now the first few times I did this, it was absolutely unbearable. I’d shiver my sorry self to my next class in hopes that no insane professor turned the AC all the way down that day. By the time I’d reach a safe haven of human-engineered comfort, my muscles would be sore from tensing up, and I’d spend the next few minutes contemplating my utter idiocy. But somewhere in between the first time I wore shorts in cold weather and today, I think something clicked. Was I really about to let my hazy memory of a friend from over a decade ago prove more cold-tolerant than me? The answer was no; my ego couldn’t take that.

I cannot imagine a single reason why you would want to try this. For me, it was two months worth of expletives, tensing, and misery, but if you would also like to embark on this foolish quest, here is my advice.

Cold cannot be reasoned with. You can try to shiver harder or count sheep to distract yourself, but the only lasting solution is to embrace the chill. There is no fighting it, and there is also no way words can prepare you. The only real path to wearing shorts in the winter is to go out and do it.

… No single individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.
- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

Good luck.

Even though you’ve probably forgotten me by now, thank you B for inspiring me to head out into the wintry night in a t-shirt and shorts.