Bill Woodall

Bill Woodall

Husky.

If you’re of a certain age and a male, you may recall a time when jeans – denim britches – were available in sizes preceded by the word husky. And we all had at least one elementary school pal whose parents bought for him britches that came in husky sizes. Or husky shapes.

All the best shops – Sears & Roebuck, J.C. Penny, Montgomery Wards – offered husky sizes.

Hard as it might be for my friends to imagine it today, I was quite skinny in my youth; too short to be lanky, I was simply skinny. Had I been a husky lad I doubt I’d have owned up to it publicly. Husky feels much more like an insult than a compliment.

(It’s an indictment of the evolution of our diet and exercise routines that I clearly recall one – just one – 6- or 7-year-old classmate whose mom probably ordered his jeans in husky sizes. His name was Otto... I’m not making that up. Maybe there were others and I remember him only because he had an unusual name combined with, for that Ward-and-June-Cleaver point in time, an unusual shape.)

Whether a size or a shape, to my knowledge pants no longer come as husky, medium or slim. Straight, skinny, pleated, cuffed, boot cut – all are measured in inches around and inches up-and-down. At least in the fashion world, boys are no longer husky; not in this country, at least.

“Political correctness” has taken that pant dimension from us.

Hurrah for political correctness, I say.

Those for whom good manners are but a myth and for whom coarseness is a back-slapping laughing-out-loud virtue, ridicule polite speech as political correctness... as if that’s an insult. How, I can’t help but wonder, is it a bad thing to be polite, tactful in our conversation? If that tact is driven by political consideration, so be it. At least it’s driven. If we learn to speak – even guardedly – without derision and make that a habit, maybe someday we’ll also think without derision.

In another day and time, I’d have been (at best) portly... thank goodness, I say, for cultural evolution and political correctness.

Bill Woodall is a retired newspaperman, now contemplating the virtue of Velcro in lieu of shoe laces.

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