A Pendleton is a warm plaid flannel shirt, part of the uniform worn by old-style pachucos, vatos locos, and a few retro cholo/homeboys. The shirt, if you are Culturally Chicano, irrespective of weather, is always worn buttoned to the top — no matter what.
To complicate matters, the Pendleton has to be worn with a t-shirt because the wool really itches. A Pendleton can only be worn t-shirtless as a gang initiation, or if a homeboy does his own laundry, dyeing all of his chonies red or blue. This means two things: he doesn’t live with his mama, and does not have a girlfriend.
I have said all that to just say this: My wife says that my last Pendleton has to go.
It all happened quite innocently enough after an evening of mall shopping. 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 clean, lean, and mean on the retro-cool OG tip, while all of the surveillance cameras were tracking me from store to store like Osama’s Baby 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, and by the way, those Los Lobos sunglasses don’t work anymore either.
There are some things that guys can wear for years that are a part of their identity. It could be a pair of sneakers, a hat, and a pair of jeans, a Members 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 articles of clothing for a man that transcend fashion and speak to a certain masculine tradition.
Button down sweater-wearing, turtleneck-sporting sociologists with round horn-rimmed glasses, with their hair whacked to the side, believe that most people like to wear the clothes they wore during the best part of their lives.
I 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 a psychological epiphany.
The larger issue at stake here is not as much mode of male dress, as much as 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 ladies like to hold our hands or hook arms to show that we are taken.
A note to the stupid dudes: If your lady doesn’t want to hold hands or walk closely next to you in public, whether you know it or not, you are on your way out. In other words, hit the road, Jack…
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 spitless, all the while inspiring most of the babes to check me out, so my wife knows 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 something age -appropriate while we are in public together, just as long as it is not the floor length black Australian trench coat with the cape.
It is a good thing for me she didn’t get a good look at the shoes.