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Monday, February 14, 2005

Does this make me look fat?

Back in the early '80s Somalia was trying to shake off the effects of a costly defeat in a war it had started with its neighbor, Ethiopia. The main reason Somalia lost the war was because the Soviet Union and Cuba sent both troops and military aid to Ethiopia.

As a result of the defeat, Somalia experienced a political sea change and swung from a pro-socialist outlook to basically hating the Soviets and all they stood for. The Soviet navy was banned from Somali ports and my ship, which had been hanging out in the North Arabian Sea and Indian Ocaen, was sent to make a political visit in the port of Berbera, Somalia.

When we got there it was about 115 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. In the middle of the day even the camels and goats refused to move, so I was fascinated to see that the dockworkers were able to function in spite of the blistering conditions. Then I noticed that all the men were wearing light cotton wrap-around skirts (for lack of a better word). Several of us asked around and were able to purchase a few of these skirts (basically a long piece of dyed cotton) and we wore them for the duration of our visit (when we weren’t required to be in uniform, of course).

I have to tell you, after the first little discomfort of walking around in what was basically a man-sarong, I started to see some merit to the concept. Ventilation is a beautiful thing, in moderation. Instead of my thighs wanting to ignite from sheer friction, I was suddenly cool as a cucumber (OK, admittedly an unfortunate choice of imagery)! However, despite visiting dozens of other desert and tropical countries around the world, I never had another opportunity (or the nerve) to break out my man-skirt.

Well, a big thanks goes out to Chuck and Beth for pointing me to this,  but I wonder how many men (outside of Scotland, that is) would have the nerve to wear this little number?

I love the concept, and it actually seems quite practical (hey, you can even order it with the ‘Beer Gut Cut’!), but I really think it’s a look that very few men can carry off, um, manfully.

In the advertisement all the models are doing manly things (welding, construction, etc.), and wearing big hobnail boots to ward off some of the ‘swish factor' involved. But no matter how you package it, what we’re talking about here is a skirt. With pleats.

Without going into too much detail about what Jewish law might have to say on this particular subject, there are quite a few ‘rules and regs’ about what women can wear… and if I’m not mistaken, there is also a sticky little prohibition against men wearing women’s clothing.

Not to worry though, you aren’t likely to be seeing me in a skirt anytime soon. To demonstrate how ill-prepared I might be for such a dramatic change in wardrobe, let me share a quick story:

When Zahava and I were dating we attended a costume party/dinner together. We attended this soirée dressed in full Scottish regalia. Unfortunately, there were impromptu skits during the entertainment portion of the evening, and I was one of the people called to sit in front of the gathered crowd as part of a skit. As I glanced around the room, I saw a lot of grinning and nudging going on, and I noticed Zahava gesturing wildly for me to put my knees together. Like most guys, when I sit down I'm used to either casually crossing my legs or sitting with my knees splayed a foot or two apart. I don’t recall which of these two classic poses I selected, but suffice it to say neither was the correct posture while wearing a kilt.

So, coming back to the Utilikilt, as much as I would love to indulge ‘the troops’ in a little R&R out in the fresh air, I don’t think I can bear the idea of having to ask my wife that dreaded question:

"Does this make me look fat?"

Posted by David Bogner on February 14, 2005 | Permalink


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I see you're posting again about low hanging fruit.

Thank you! Thank you very much. I'll be here all week. Please tip the waitresses.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 14, 2005 12:47:37 AM


The post above begs the question, is there a picture of you. Is this post a way of testing the water, are you ready to share it with the world.

I promise not to gasp, snicker, snigger or yawn. If I had a shot of myself I'd gladly share it, but alas no such shot exists.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 14, 2005 3:19:02 AM

Aren't you like 6'5"? I somehow doubt that anyone's going to antagonize you. But, yeah, that tie-dye one's probably not worth the risk.

Posted by: Tanya | Feb 14, 2005 7:56:25 PM

First it's Na'ot Clogs then kilts. are tiechels next? It's a very slippery slope!

Posted by: MO Chassid | Feb 14, 2005 8:15:10 PM

What kind? Kirby?

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Feb 14, 2005 8:48:00 PM

Doctor Bean... How did I not see that one a mile away?

Jack... There are pictures floating around of Zahava and me from the costume party, but no pics of me in my manskirt. Sorry.

Tanya... I'm 6'2" (and shrinking). There's a tie-dyed one??? I must have missed it.

MO Chassid... Hey! I'm wearing clogs right this second (OK, they're Merrells). What's wrong with clogs? In fact, I'm baffled as to why Kohanim don't wear clogs to shul in Israel.

Jordan... huh?

Posted by: David | Feb 14, 2005 8:56:01 PM

In my best Schwarzenegger voice. "Look at the little girlie man in his manskirt."

No pix, how sad. ;(

Oh well, somethings are better left to the imagination. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Feb 14, 2005 9:38:16 PM

this is actually a "meta-comment".... I love the word "snigger" and would love the etymolgy of it if anyone has it. can't wait to use it in a sentence!

Posted by: shabtai | Feb 14, 2005 10:01:05 PM


I wear na'ot all the time. Nothing wrong with them.

Posted by: MO Chassid | Feb 15, 2005 12:50:12 AM

I'm afraid as the one who started this whole thing, I need to chime in.

While I referred to the kilt in question as a man skirt, David, I do not believe you will be crossing any lines faith-wise, as a kilt is not cross-dressing, but in fact men's wear.

It was mostly to mock my husband, who is ever so mockable, that I referred to it as a man skirt.

And btw: Merrills are not clogs. They're mules. Not all open-backed shoes are clogs, and not all clogs are open-backed. (Between outings in my Manolo's I wear some very snappy black Danska closed back clogs.) Mules are always open backed. If they're open-toed as well they're slides, though often mules are often mistakenly referred to as slides.

Clogs typically have a wooden sole but sometimes they're made of some kind of polycarbonate resin that is made to look "wood grain". The sole on a clog is always rigid.

Merrills have a soft (as in flexible) sole. A clog will not ever have a flexible sole.

Sheesh, aren't I a font of useless information?

Posted by: beth | Feb 15, 2005 3:00:22 AM

A friend of mine got married in Israel recently wearing a kilt - he withdrew a speach from his sporran! Changed for dancing though to avoid experiencing your little problem!

Need anything from the US?


Posted by: Gilly | Feb 15, 2005 5:55:47 AM

Jack... I'll ask some of my musician buddies who were at the party if they can scan one of the costume party pictures for me (as a consolation prize).

Shabtai... I'll ask my brother-in-law (who is my sole source for word-related stuff) but I assume it is just a local pronunciation of the word 'snicker' that was unique to a particular area of England. Of course, you know what they say about 'assume'...

MO... gotta say, I didn't see that coming. You'll have to change your blog name to 'Sensitive Modern Orthodox Chassid. :-)

Beth... thanks for the info. I'm already trying to forget most of it. :-) I have limited storage space upstairs and I'm afraid that downloading this much information about [shudder]shoes is likely to over-write my valuable collection of TV theme song lyrics. Seriously... I want a picture of Chuck when the Utiliskirt arrives... preferably (as Mr. Amaya pointed out) sitting sidesaddle on his bike.

Gilly... Yes, but I assume your friend was from somewhere in the UK. You Brits can pull this sort of sartorial thing off. Americans, not so much. As to your kind offer, I will be in the states in a couple of weeks on a speaking tour so I'll be able to stock up on the (very) few things I can't find here. Thanks for the offer though.

Posted by: David | Feb 15, 2005 9:30:39 AM

Speaking as my knitterly self, I can't believe anyone wearing a kilt is without this little item of apparel.

'nuf said. :D

Posted by: jennifer | Feb 15, 2005 12:12:33 PM

Jennifer...You've just answered the age-old question.

Posted by: David | Feb 15, 2005 12:29:08 PM

> I'm 6'2" (and shrinking) ...

I suspect that shrinkage would be an issue with a kilt, yes.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Feb 15, 2005 5:16:06 PM

Andy... You and Doctor Bean should take your act on the road. Witty stuff! :-)

Posted by: David | Feb 15, 2005 5:41:14 PM

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