Culture

I'm Taking a Stand for Cargo Shorts and Their Big, Gaping Man Pockets. Pockets Filled With Stuff. Like Freedom.

Finally, we’re getting to important things.

Dane Hansen, who operates a small steel business in Pleasant Grove, Utah, says that throughout his 11-year marriage, 15 pairs of cargo shorts have slowly disappeared from his closet. On the occasions when he has confronted his wife about the missing shorts, she will either admit to throwing them away or deflect confrontation by saying things like, “Honey, you just need a little help.”

Mr. Hansen, 35 years old, is now down to one pair of cargo shorts, and he guards them closely. He has hidden them in small closet nooks where his wife can’t find them.

“I don’t let her get her hands on them,” he said. “I wish I had caught on sooner.”

Relationships around the country are being tested by cargo shorts, loosely cut shorts with large pockets sewn onto the sides. Men who love them say they’re comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors​ say they’ve been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly.

Mr. Hansen’s wife, Ashleigh Hansen, said she sneaks her husband’s cargo shorts off to Goodwill when he’s not around. Mrs. Hansen, 30, no longer throws them out at home because her husband has found them in the trash and fished them out.

“I despise them,” she said. “There were so many good things about the ’90s. Cargo shorts were not one of them.”

Here is the one thing I know for certain: I rarely lose sunglasses when I am wearing cargo shorts. If I go out late in the day when the sun is still up and come home after it sets, I have a bad habit of leaving my sunglasses wherever I’m at. If I am wearing cargo shorts, they immediately go into one of my six-hundred pockets and make it home safely. Long past when society says I should have, I recently opted for regular shorts (I’m in L.A. and I spend most of my time writing. I wear shorts 9-10 months a year) and I’m losing sunglasses left and right.

True, cargo shorts are not that pleasant to look at, I’ve seen the pictures of myself. Their functionality outweighs whatever perceived fashion faux pas I’m committing that day, however. Countless thousands of American men in 2016 are wearing fedoras or newsboy caps on any given day and I can comfortably say that I will never look as bad in a pair of cargo shorts as 99% of them do in their attempts to live out a bad 1940s movie fantasy.

Yes, I’m taking a stand. Why shouldn’t men have places to throw cell phones, glasses, or half-eaten sandwiches (with chips and pickles because, HEY, ANOTHER POCKET)? Women are veritable rolling warehouses of places to put all kinds of things, what with the massive purses for physical stuff and that extra emotional baggage space where they can store resentment over things like, say, their men wearing cargo shorts.

They may not be everyone’s favorite to look at, but at least they are useful. Think of the myriad things in the male and female fashion worlds that are both unpleasant and useless.

Like sleeveless shirts and tops.

You know who should go sleeveless? People whose deltoids are distinguishable from the rest of the upper arm. Any upper arm. That rules out almost every human wearing anything sleeveless right now. We’re constantly being subjected to sleeveless horrors that look like some awful performance art piece that features a giant soft serve yogurt dispenser.

So much unpleasantness, and for no functionality beyond comfort. No one is carrying cell phones in all of that wobbly arm flab. At least I hope not. That was probably covered on an episode of “Botched” that I missed.

Grown-ups with jobs are still wearing Crocs, people. I almost said “For Pete’s sake” at the beginning of this paragraph, but that sounds like something a sleeveless dude in Crocs would say when he can’t find his stupid newsboy cap as he is heading to the grocery store to buy discount vodka and cat food.

So let’s dial down the cargo shorts hate, American people. Yeah, they may be little more than casual wear with permanently attached saddlebags, but you know what they aren’t? Fanny packs or man purses. Ponder that and see if you still have an appetite. Did you ever think that cargo shorts may be responsible for pushing the former into the shadows and keeping the latter from ever becoming a thing? Some gratitude might be in order.

Thank you, cargo shorts.

Someone has to fight the tyranny of “Honey, can you hold this in your purse for me?” Men need to be emancipated. We can be silent losers of sunglasses no more. It’s a big world out there, and some of it has to be hastily shoved into pockets. Big, gaping man pockets. Pockets filled with stuff. Like freedom.

Cargo shorts are freedom.

Hideous, glorious freedom.

Hey, a taco!