Ah, springtime. The sun starts to shine in earnest, the birds begin to chirp, and people begin to emerge from their rooms in anticipation of it being warm enough to spend time outside. And of course, people begin to shed their jeans and sweatpants for the more temperature-appropriate shorts.
However, there are some people who don’t have pants to shed. They’ve been wearing shorts since February. We all know this guy. You might have passed him on the way to the dining hall. He might be in your class. He might be a friend or a boyfriend. Yes. I’m talking about him. The Guy Who Wears Shorts When It’s 40 Degrees Outside.
Seeing these men has always somewhat confused me. Are you not cold? Do you have feeling in your legs? Are your pants just in the laundry? I decided this spring that enough was enough. So I hit the streets (AKA: my phone contacts) and asked 5 of the men I know to shed some light on this situation, using initials to preserve anonymity.
The first question I asked each interviewee was if they had personally worn shorts when it was cold outside in order to get a baseline for each person’s opinion on the matter. Every participant except for one admitted to doing so.
When I asked J, a friend of mine who is also in my sociology class what his thoughts on wearing shorts when it’s freezing outside, he had a simple answer. “I hate pants,” he told me “and I will wear shorts whenever I can. It will be in the 30s and sometimes in the 20s and I’ll be in shorts.” I asked him what his motivation for wearing shorts all the time was, aside from the fact that he hated pants. “My legs don’t get that cold,” he said. The next day when I saw him in class, it was raining and about 40 degrees outside. When he saw me, he pointed to his shorts and said, “See? Shorts all the time.”
T, a senior at DePauw, thinks that people who wear shorts to class in the winter “are crazy, lol.” As a soccer player, the only time that he would wear shorts in the winter is at practice. Yet his experience suggests that the climate where someone grows up makes a difference in their ability and desire to wear shorts in the winter. Since where he grew up is a lot warmer than Greencastle, Indiana, he isn’t quite used to the cold. “I think my body will one day adapt to the weather and I’ll be able to walk around in 40-degree weather,” he said, though he also added that just because he could doesn’t mean that he would.
N, a cross country runner at Webster University in St. Louis, has a similar thought process as T. When he was in high school, he used to love wearing shorts to class, but now he prefers to be warm and comfortable. He does wear shorts to practice as long as it isn’t below freezing but definitely wouldn’t wear shorts to class in those same temperatures. When he sees other guys wearing shorts out in the cold, it just reminds him of when he used to do the same thing. “But hey,” he said, “as long as they don’t mind the cold or anything then kudos to them.”
In fact, most of the guys I interviewed responded to other shorts-wearing guys with a similar kind of you-do-you attitude. There seemed to be a consensus that, as long as the guy isn’t drawing attention to the difference in temperature vs their bare legs, he’s probably just doing his thing. “I believe they are showing their right to self-expression by wearing shorts year-round,” said V. While wanting to express oneself makes sense, I was still a bit unsure of practical motivations behind this wardrobe decision until C made a good point. For him in particular, he hates the feeling of being bundled up and then sweating inside academic buildings because DePauw tends to crank the heat up in the wintertime. He also said that he thinks it’s healthy to be cold now and then and that some guys might do it for “some cold shock” and hoping to burn some calories. V concurs, saying “[wearing shorts] feels very refreshing and grounds me to the earth.”
As someone whose legs are cold well into April, I’m a little jealous of people like J, who aren’t much bothered by the cold. Talking with these guys, especially the athletes, has reminded me of the days when it was 40 degrees and I’d wear shorts to cross country practice. Coming to college, I think I may have lost some of the spirit of freezing a little bit when I walk around campus (though to be fair, shorts for girls tend to be shorter than those for boys). It seems from my interviews that the majority of guys feel positively about wearing shorts when it’s cold, so next time it’s chilly outside, I may pull on a pair myself.