Close-Up | If you were wearing a belt ...

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Youngsters wear their trousers with underwear showing. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Youngsters wear their trousers with underwear showing. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Close-Up


The other day I took my 17-year-old son, Khanyani, to the bank to get a new ATM card as his old one was damaged.

A tjatjarag millennial will immediately ask: but why does he need a bank card when he can get a banking app on his phone?

To which I will retort: “This is a family affair, wena ungenaphi?” But on a more serious note, a banking app would be ideal; except you need a phone in order to use an app, don’t you?

My son loses phones as if it was in fashion. If he doesn’t lose a phone, he breaks it. It’s as if in his world possessing a functioning phone is a crime.

Anyway, once we’d secured a card, I realised something: the reason he damages or loses his ATM cards is because he doesn’t have a wallet.

So, from the bank we went to Mr Price. At the door he hesitated: “Dad, I know your wardrobe is cool. Why are we at Mr Price, because you know I can’t wear stuff from Mr Price.”

He is in matric at a boys’ boarding school, you see, and obviously thinks he’s the coolest dude on earth. And cool dudes won’t be seen dead purchasing stuff from Mr Price.

I simply ignored him, went straight to the counter and asked the cashier to show us to the bags section.

READ: Fred Khumalo | An ode to my long johns

“Choose a wallet,” I told him curtly. He did a double take, as if he’d been slapped in the face.

“Why do I need a wallet?” he asked.

“So you can stop losing or damaging your bank cards.”

He chose a wallet. At the till, he muttered to himself: “They force you to buy a wallet. What next? They are going to tell you to wear a belt? Why are they ageing you like this?”

Again, I ignored him. When we were in the car, I told him a story about his older brother, Fred Junior, who is now in his late 20s.

As a student at Wits University, Junior used to like hanging out in Braamfontein, even though he did not stay in the area.

One day he came home in an agitated state. He had been mugged in Braamfontein. Needless to say, I comforted him.

But then the township boy in me took over. Wait a minute, thought I, this dude is crying simply because they took his phone and wallet. They didn’t even stab him!

I had to say something that would shock him, without making him feel I don’t care. Something that would not offend his mother, as well.

I looked at him. He was wearing his jeans with no belt, the trousers sagging so low you could see his underpants in all their glory.

If you were wearing a belt, you would have been able to either fight back. Or run.

Listen, as a teenager I used to sag my trousers as well. It was the fashion back then in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You had to show your boxer shorts, which we used to call “trunks”.

There were famous brands of trunks which simply had to be shown off. What’s the point of wearing expensive trunks if people can’t see them?

So, millennials, the sagging of trousers is not your invention. But you chaps are extra. You don’t just give people a glimpse of your underwear.

You sag trousers so low a Martian visiting planet Earth would be forgiven for thinking young black men have evolved so dramatically that their buttocks are now positioned where the calves of the average man are supposed to be located.

Having told my son how we also used to sag our trousers, he began to relax, thinking I was on his side. Then I pounced: “You know what, if you were wearing a belt, those guys probably wouldn’t have taken your phone and wallet.”

Startled, he said: “What do you mean, dad?”

“You see,” said I, “if you were wearing a belt, you would have been able to either fight back. Or run. You can’t run with your trousers sagging so low!”

Khanyani laughed himself silly on hearing this story about his brother. But he still won’t wear a belt. One day he’ll learn his lesson.

Khumalo is the City Press deputy news editor for opinion and analysis


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