A new Goldman State Podcast drops every Friday!

Jul 26, 2023

The Man-Boys Of Summer: An Annual Lament

Et tu, fanny-pack?

By Ed Goldman

A persistent question I have every summer around this time: When did grown men start dressing like little boys?

I’m not talking about grown men in offices—though seeing as how those offices are increasingly at home, maybe the question still applies.

Edgy Cartoon

The gweatest genewation

Nobody of my father’s generation, or the ones that preceded it, spent their off-times in shorts, T-shirts and running shoes, sandals and (my favorite ManBoy footwear option) loafers without socks. Or even worse, loafers with very tall socks, sometimes even tall dark socks. 

My God, guys, add a beanie with a propellor on it and watch the years fall away—along with what remains of your personal dignity.

I should comment on the fact that I dress like a ManBoy 85 percent of the time. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it, just as you wouldn’t be of many things you do in the privacy of your own home (unless it involves non-cuisine uses of honey and butterfat).

For example, do you like to wear mismatched socks, odd pairings of striped sweatshirts and chamois-cloth capri pants? Well, more power to you, I say—with the caveat that this probably isn’t job-interview apparel, even if the interview panel will only see your head and shoulders on the Zoom call. I mention this because how we’re dressed often has an effect on how we behave, even when nobody can see us.

A friend of mine who’d played professional baseball understood this. When he retired from sports he became a “recognition salesman”—one of those people who sell trophies, yearbook ads and certificates of merit to schools, businesses and nonprofits. Most of those entities realize they’re not paying people well enough, if at all, so they opt to give them something to recognize their work, other than a Starbucks gift card. 

Letting the staff dress like complete slobs once a week—what I call Casualty Friday—is the least expensive employee benefit an organization can provide.

Anyway, this friend, who was governed by years of self-discipline as an athlete, used to briskly walk into the office, a few feet from the bedroom in his home, at 8 every weekday morning to telephone his prospects, saving the afternoons for his in-person visits. He wore a suit and tie on he journey from his bedroom to his office. And once he closed the door to his workplace, he hung his jacket on the back of his chair and slightly loosened his tie, as though he were in an office populated by more than himself.

When I asked him about it he said doing so simply made him feel more professional—and he was absolutely convinced this had a beneficial effect on his telephone style and subsequent success.

While I understood the concept, I still wasn’t the least bit interested in testing it on myself. I’d only recently begun to dress semi-professionally when I visited marketing clients or interviewees, a change I made more for the clients’ comfort than for mine: I noticed a slight sense of envy/anger when I attended a business meeting in jeans or (God-forbid) shorts, no matter how clean and creased they (and I) were. 

I imagine they also might have thought I must not be a very serious man if I dressed like a 12-year-old. While no one ever said anything like that to me, I definitely noticed that when I started showing up in sport-jacket-and-slacks—the uniform for a pro when he has his own business and wants to remind you of his independence—their demeanor was slightly more friendly and even well, conspiratorial. As though we were all trapped together in adulthood.

But to get back to my dad, the dads who existed in the same era and the dads who came before, look at some old photos of men in warm months (unless frolicking at a beach or pool, for which all fashion bets are off). They wore long, often pleated pants, which made even slender men look slightly rotund; short-sleeve Banlon® shirts, possibly with horizontal stripes and a breast pocket for their cigarettes; and shoes and socks. 

They perspired like wild boars trapped in a wilderness sauna, make no mistake. But they looked like grownups, not rebellious Bar Mitzvah celebrants or pre-teens escaping a lecture on the perks of joining an all-castrato choir.

Looking for a Great Gift?

If they wore sleeveless undershirts they still had on Chinos or an early version of Cargo pants, since men of that age needed to have about 12 pockets for their keys, wallets, handkerchiefs, pocket-knives, cigarette lighters, pocket combs and packs of chewing gum.

Today’s ManBoy is more likely to keep his paraphernalia confined to an iPhone, single credit card and whatever else he feels won’t overburden his [oh, please, dear God, stop me before I type these words] fanny pack. Has there ever been a worse-branded, more emasculating product? Okay, how about the fanny pack holster? 

Please hurry, autumn.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, N.A.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

SoFi Gives: Family Promise of Sacramento

There is something special about families—and there’s something equally special about supporting the organizations that support families, especially through challenging times.

Family Promise of Sacramento has been helping families for more than 18 years. Its mission is transforming the lives of low-income families or families experiencing homelessness to allow them to achieve, through a community response, sustainable independence

Family Promise works with a small number of families-in-need at a time to deliver life-saving services: prevention, shelter, and stabilization. The organization has placed more than 375 families in either transitional or permanent housing, helped 327 families with rental assistance funds to avoid homelessness, and has assisted 26 formerly homeless “guests”—a lovely word that respects the dignity of the people being helped—in the purchase of their own homes.

Family Promise also cheered 31 guests to earn their GEDs and 22 college degrees.

Naturally, its focus includes the welfare of children. This year, America will see more than 2.5 million children experience homelessness. Family Promise helps feed, house, babysit and inspire kids. While in the program, five high school students received full scholarships to California State Universities.

Family Promise uses a variety of methods, volunteers, and resources to perform its magic, including placing families in homes with patios, gardens and play areas. They are hoping to inspire more organizations to seek creative ways to help families during transition.

Golden Pacific Bank, a division of SoFi Bank, NA recently gave Family Promise a $10,000 grant to support its mission. Family Promise Executive Director Marsha Spell says:

“With the money we have just received from Golden Pacific Bank we will be able to assist six additional families with housing and food for three months or assist 20 families with rental assistance in order to keep them in their homes and not be put out on the streets. These families will all receive financial training with monthly budgets, credit repair and guidance on spending your money well. Thanks to Golden Pacific in assisting Family Promise of Sacramento so we can assist these families.”

It’s our honor that Family Promise of Sacramento has been a valued customer of our bank for years—and an honor to support an organization that is truly making a difference in families’ lives.

sponsored content