Like Us On Facebook
Facebook Pagelike Widget
March 7, 2017

When is it time to leave behind short shorts?

It’s been a shared ambition of Paul and Ryan to host a podcast in which we discuss the great issues of our time. But podcasts are hard to pull off and our voices are both high-pitched and grating. So we’ve set our sights lower: welcome to Ryan and Paul Send Each Other Emails — the future of entertainment.

FROM: Ryan Sterner
TO: Paul Snyder
DATE: Wed, Feb. 23rd 2:41 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

Hi Paul,

I’d like to touch on something both you and I learned about the other when we went on our bi-annual jog a few weekends ago.

Much like when the two Lindsay Lohans saw each other for the first time in Parent Trap, when we saw each other in our running outfits for the first time in probably two years, we were delighted to see that we were both donning LENGTHY SHORTS.

We didn’t do too much discussing about it then, but now I guess I can ask: when did you hang up the short shorts? Why did you hang up the short shorts? What was your short shorts Old Yeller moment?

Asthmatically,

Ryan

FROM: Paul Snyder
TO: Ryan Sterner
DATE: Wed, Feb. 23rd  2:56 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

Hey there, Ryan!

Ah yes, I remember the run fondly. You cryptically asked if I wanted to see “the Batman cave,” then we trotted up into an offshoot of Griffith Park to a cave that was apparently featured in a Tim Burton-era Batman movie. It did not disappoint!

I’d say my transition from wearing short, competitive-looking running shorts to donning what I call “joggin’ short-pants,” took place during my time living in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. This decision was informed by a mixture of pragmatism and fear, like everything else in my life.

Pragmatism, in that I’d often jog to different neighborhoods to meet friends for dinner, or drinks. Longer shorts have more pockets, so the choice seemed a natural one. It’s a real bummer having to physically hold a phone, keys, and various cards while jogging as a means of social-commuting.

And fear, in that the route I’d take from my apartment to Prospect Park ran right past a middle school and those kids really had a field day when they’d see me in shorter shorts. Teens are mean and reveled in mocking my appearance and dress. But when I tested out some basketball shorts, the heckling stopped almost entirely.

Since leaving New York for Flagstaff, I’ve simply kept the good times rolling and the shorts stretching down to my knees. And I must say, I still enjoy it despite everyone around me wearing half-tights or shorts all the dang time. Call me a contrarian, call me self-conscious of my extremely pale and hairy thighs, just don’t call me suggestive in my choice of athletic attire.

What about you? What was your “come to Jesus” moment?

Limpingly,

Paul

FROM: Ryan Sterner
TO: Paul Snyder
DATE: Wed, Feb. 24th 3:34 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

Hi Paul,

Fear is a big motivator here.

I remember I started wearing short shorts because of the fear I harbored of not being accepted by my running peers. At 18, I was just some long-short wearing John with a Midwestern hair cut and an aw-shucks attitude. Who’s to say that I wasn’t just some Zumba Class Instructor looking to “get in shape” before the next season? That fear drove me all the way to the nearest sporting good store and thus started my career as a short-shortsman.

But that wasn’t your question. My short shorts swan song?

I guess roughly nine years after it started I packed ’em away for good a few months after I moved to Los Angeles in 2014. I was training for a half marathon and still very gung ho about things like HALF TIGHTS and SHORT SHORTS and LIL ATHLETIC BRITCHES.

However, in the middle of my training cycle, I was sidelined by some now-forgotten injury. Because I’m lazy and because there’s no trails or scenery or isolation in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles calling me seductively back to the pavement, I sat idle for the longest stretch of time since I began running LIKE 13 years ago.

When I finally got the gumption to lace up the shoes again, I had entered a new season of my running career. Putting on short shorts now, in what safely felt like the Winter of my running heyday, felt a lot like the guy playing pickup basketball wearing a Bulls-era Michael Jordan jersey. Sure, it’s cute, but buddy, you look like a chump.

I am now safely following middle school handbooks everywhere on their rules and regulations regarding shorts: if I can put my arms to my sides and my hand is touching skin, you bet your sweet ass those puppies are too short.

Are we here for good? Under what circumstances would you go back? Also, please explain to me the logistics of running with things in your pockets.

Big Boy,

Ryan

FROM: Paul Snyder
TO: Ryan Sterner
DATE: Wed, Mar 1st 4:01 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

We’ve all been there, a teenage chud, sporting a doofy haircut, turning to cross country to both be different, and to be a part of a group.

My shorts only grew shorter in college, with the inheritance of a pair of old Boathouse brand running shorts.These were crafted in an era where dong-accentuation seemed to be all that mattered to a smart-looking track kit. It felt good to show some skin, ya know?

ANYWAY.

As for your question, I’m afraid there’s no going back once you go long. With each sunny day and thirty-minute jog, our thighs will grow pastier. Our tolerance for heckling will wane just that much more. And the elastic on our old, shorter shorts, will become more taut and crackly, unused in a forgotten drawer.

Moving on to your pocket-based logistical curiosity, let me be clear: you still need zippers, flaps or Velcro to prevent your stuff from flying everywhere. It’s not like the presence of more pockets makes for easier carrying of goods on its own. That said, these longer shorts usually are more zippered-out. The normal, side pockets are just nice for when you’re standing at a stoplight and want some place to put your hands.

Why do you think we don’t see more professional athletes training or competing in the everyman runners’ bottoms we’ve come to embrace?

The only one who comes to mind is two-time Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis.

FROM: Ryan Sterner
TO: Paul Snyder
DATE: Wed, Mar 1st 5:22 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

Paul, from what you described above, it sounds like your ideal pair of running shorts are actually cropped cargo pants. Perhaps something like these ones currently being sold by Union Bay, hacked off just below the knee?

Professionals are a different story, though. There’s a bit of decorum that goes along with any sort of club. Serena Williams doesn’t arrive at Wimbledon wearing overalls and a straw hat. Tom Brady doesn’t show up to football practice with wooden clogs and a butter churn (maybe, who knows?). And if you’re a professional runner, and you show up to Sunday’s long run wearing basketball shorts with a ziploc bag full of essentials tethered around your waist, I doubt you’d last long before someone shoves you into a hedge and tells you to “get bent.”

But we’re not professionals, friend. Nothing would satisfy me more than seeing you show up to our next biannual jog wearing pleated pants and a neck tie.

With that being said, I’m ready to pull back a touch. The day I look forward to most is roughly 25 to 30 years in the future. I’m a father. I’m a homeowner. I live in a quiet suburb with good schools and a modest wife. I commute into the city. I have a leather briefcase and an apron that says “Kiss the Cook.” Everyday, down the pre-dawn boulevards of my existence, I lope block-to-block, in my long forgotten short shorts, eyes glazed-over in nostalgia as I remember the rush of the wind passing through my bare thighs.

Why do I do this Paul? To mortify my children. “BUT DAD, everyone thinks you’re a FREAK!” “Mrs. Winslow from down the street said she saw your DONG!” “ARE YOU DOING THIS ON PURPOSE??”

IDK. Let me know if I’m nuts.

FROM: Paul Snyder
TO: Ryan Sterner
DATE: Wed, Mar. 3rd 5:51 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

Hm. I’m not sure I’m advocating for cargo shorts, as much as I am for a complete blurring of the lines between formal wear and athletic wear. The “athleisure” movement comes close to my ideal form of apparel, but ultimately, it’s a commodification and bastardization of the true, blissful merger I hope for. Why spend $100 on a pair of pants that you can jog and go to the bar in, when you can just re-purpose old soccer trousers your friend left at your house in high school? I envision a world free of formalities, where you can show up to a business meeting in basketball shorts, doused in sweat and still close the deal.

I’m with you on your assessment of professional runners needing to keep up appearances, but you lost me with the return to short shorts in middle age.

I think it’s because my wearing short shorts will embarrass me as much as it will any future children I might have. The only difference as far as I can tell between you and me, is that you are a smooth, hairless boy, while my genes have configured themselves in such a way that forces my skin to sprout a ton of hair, everywhere. The longer I go without sunning my thighs, the darker my leg hair gets and the grosser I’ll appear if I ever revert back to wearing shorter shorts. Maybe my willingness to show some skin will return in old age, but as of now, I just don’t see it happening.

Was there any other topic you wanted to address, or have we reached a sort of consensus?

FROM: Ryan Sterner
TO: Paul Snyder
DATE: Wed, Mar 3rd 6:11 PM
SUBJECT: Who wears short shorts?

Yeah, yeah. I guess we’re good.

Scroll to top