Tail of two cities - pants (11)
Archived Articles 17 Mar 2006 Peeter BushEWR
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I find that as I get older I often get strange thoughts. This may have something to do with the strange sense of humour that I inherited from my Saaremaa parents. Frequently, when I express these, for some unknown reason some people get upset. Hopefully nobody will get upset about my musings concerning men’s pants styles in Tartu and Toronto.

During this last trip - footloose in Estonia on my own -, I could not help but notice that young men’s pant styles are significantly different in Tartu than they are here.

Many young men there in their late teens and early twenties wear Estonian defence forces pants, frequently with combat boots. This seems very practical. Some even go so far as to proudly wear blue, black and white emblems on their jackets. Estonia requires all its young men that are citizens to serve in its defence forces. I understood from talking to my relatives that most everyone takes their obligations seriously and very few shirk duty. Young Estonian soldiers have even been known to put their pants on the line in Iraq.

Estonian young men are invariably neat looking with short sensible hair. You don’t see any “Russian mafia” style shaved heads or leather jackets. Customs and laws about alcohol consumption in Estonia are a little more relaxed so you quite often see a group of young people enjoying a beer in a park or even by the roadside. Driving in Estonia with a beer or cell phone in your hand is an entirely different matter.

Even before you hear what language is being spoken, you can see from the pants and the type of beer being consumed which language group you are dealing with. Estonians prefer premium stuff such as “Saku” (at least on the mainland) and the Russian kids seem to drink cheap 9% plonk out of a two litre bottle.

I was a little bit apprehensive about walking past the Russian bunch on my nightly walks around Tartu. Nobody bothered with me. The much cleaner cut Estonian kids seemed livelier and happier and I did not feel in the least apprehensive. In fact I felt that if I opened my mouth and said “Tere” I would probably be invited to join them for a chat, something I subsequently regret not doing.

So much for Tartu. What I saw in Toronto during my last visit late in the fall was disturbing. I saw young men with pants at least six inches too long and hair that was at least six inches too long (I think they are called “dreadlocks” or something like that). Instead of combat boots they wore strange looking shoes that seemed to be puffed out with air like miniature tires. The crotch on those pants was half way down to their knees, possibly more comfortable, but it must be hell to run in those. Nobody seemed to be drinking anything but they sure smoked funny smelling cigarettes. For some strange reason I felt very insecure. Next time I go to the big city shopping on Yonge Street I think I might look around for a bullet proof vest.

I had thought about maybe hopping over to France next summer when I visit my son in Switzerland and renting an automobile to tour around. Think I may have to forego that because I hear French auto fire insurance rates have increased dramatically. Guess I won’t find out what type of pants the young men wear in France.

Anyway, this is the end of the tale of two cities. I hope nobody except the politically correct argpüksid felt offended.

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