Friday, August 9, 2013

A local high school football coach...

...was quoted in the Tribune this morning as saying that one of his receivers -- at 5'8", 150 pounds -- looked more like an accountant or a marathon runner in his "street clothes."

"Street clothes?"

And I wondered, is that term, like "street shoes," native to the Chicago area?

When I was growing up in the suburbs here, we used both terms to distinguish what you'd wear in a gym from what you'd where "out on the street." (Even though we lived in a leafy cul-de-sac.)

The "street"? Doesn't that conjure up images of Depression-era Chicago, you know, pool halls and that sort of thing? Can't you just picture some young tough with a name like Studs Lonigan smoking a cigarette in his "street clothes" outside a tavern in the city?

But a kid living in the suburbs today? Wearing "street clothes"? Has he ever been on a street? Or has he spent his entire life being chauffeured around in a car by his mom? (Has he ever even rode his Schwinn to Walgreen's to buy baseball cards?)

Before I moved to New Jersey in 1969 I not only said "gym shoes," but also "Cokes" for any carbonated beverage that was loaded with sugar and not good for you, and "blue jeans" for what you'd change into from the uniform you'd wear to Catholic grammar school.

But I soon found out that my new classmates (who were Mets fans!) said "sneakers," "soda," and "dungarees." (We won that last one.)

"Hey, get a load o' the new kid from Shee-KAH-go. He's wearin' gym shoes! Haw haw..."

Fortunately, I never used the terms "street shoes" or "street clothes" around those guys. And I never heard either one used outside of Chicago. In fact, I hadn't even thought of them since I read that article this morning. So, again, I wonder, are those terms only used around here?

P. S. I know what you're thinking: Doesn't this guy have a job to do?

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