Up until sixth grade, I wore sweatpants to school nearly every day. I found them much more comfortable than jeans; at least the jeans I owned back then which were skinny and tight in the knees. My bristly adolescent knee hairs would always get stuck in the denim and itch; and as everyone knows, it’s nearly impossible to scratch an itch through denim. So attached to sweatpants was I, that nearly all my pants were sweatpants. I even had one matching set in teal- a teal sweatshirt with matching teal sweatpants. They were so teal that I can’t even describe to you how teal they were. They sucked all the teal out of the world so that even the starving children in every third-world country had no teal. None; none at all. I had all the teal. And I wore that teal sweatsuit with ballsy aplomb. Or was it blissful ignorance? (Remember, reader: sixth grade is the usual start of middle school. Gone were the halcyon days of elementary school and their accompanying fashions.)
That year, my social studies teacher began teaching us about the ancient Greeks and Romans. So there I sat one day, in the midst of my sixth grade history class, quite comfortable in my teal tuxedo and my favorite black converse sneakers, fascinated by these two ancient Mediterranean cultures.
“Everybody thinks that the Greeks wore togas, but they did not.”, my teacher explained one day. It was actually the Romans who wore togas.”
I was amazed. I hadn’t even been to college yet, and I already thought Greeks wore togas. Now I knew better. The more you know… Knowledge builds power. (Insert every other educational slogan here.) Dang, the Romans were so cool. They had a bigger, badder empire than the Greeks, and they wore togas. “I’ll bet those things were even more more comfortable than these sweatpants”, thought my innocent sixth grader brain which was caught in a historical daydream and completely unaware of the immediate future.
The teacher then explained how fashions change over time, and how nobody wears togas anymore. I failed to see where this lesson was heading.
“Can anyone in the class name any other types of clothing which are no longer in style?”, my teacher asked the class.
Mark Angelestro raised his hand and stood up.
“Teal sweatpants!” he said, pointing right at me.
The whole class erupted in laughter. Teal sweatpants were no longer in style? I looked down. I blinked. There were a pair of teal sweatpants on my legs. And I put them on, purposefully, that morning. I didn’t trip and fall into them. I literally rummaged through a whole drawer full of various sweatpants to find them. I looked around. No one else was wearing them; not even my ancient teacher. “Dang.”, I thought, as the teacher made no effort to let nature take its course. Mark was right. I was trapped. Suddenly, those teal sweatpants went from super-comfortable, to the most uncomfortable garments ever made. If I could have ripped them off right then and there and walked around school with no pants I would have. But I was forced to keep my pants on all day. It briefly crossed my mind that perhaps I could soil myself as a reason to go home. (No; no, I didn’t. But that’s still a terrible idea in hindsight.)
I learned that day, the true meaning of sweatpants.
The next day, me and my skinny, itchy jeans were back in school. But everyday since then, I have longed to accepted by society in my native dress: a pair of black converse sneakers and a teal sweatsuit.