Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Fashion Plaxico-No

Today, Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know him as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may also have read his best-selling book Numbers Don’t Lie Except When They Do . He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Tiny Elf-Like Men Shrieking. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

I want to thank The Scratchbomb for having me back. I’ve turned into a bit of a “pariah” around the office ever since I got back from Beijing. My newspaper didn’t appreciate some of the charges I ran up during the Olympics. I tried to explain to my boss that it wasn’t my fault, but he hasn’t trusted me since the Rental Car Incident of 2003.

(My loyal readers will remember that well, but for the rest of you, let’s just say that you should never try to force a cassette tape into a car stereo CD player, no matter how badly you want to hear “Sweet Baby James”. And remember: even if you’re trying to be helpful to the good people at Hertz, marinara sauce is no substitute for transmission fluid.)

Here’s what happened: One night in Beijing, I ate a crazy vegetable the locals call “egged-plant” and found myself in some gastric distress. A friendly cabbie brought me to the local pharmacy to get some Pepto Bismol, after I made myself understood with 15 minutes of an embarrassing set of hand gestures.

When we go to the pharmacy, the cabbie asked if he could borrow my corporate AmEx. He said he needed some medicine for his sick wife. I know it sounds crazy now, but I felt I owed the guy. Plus, I wasn’t really sure this place was a pharmacy at all. I’ve never seen a drug store that had crap tables and roulette wheels, and guys guarding the doors with

So imagine my surprise when I get back to the States and the only pharmaceutical purchases on the statement were 500 gross of Viagra! Plus 17 flatscreen TVs, and a bunch of charges to some Web site called LithuanianBrides.com. That sounds like a place where you could get something nice for your wife, so maybe the cabbie wasn’t totally lying.

My editor didn’t listen to my pleas of innocence and suspended me indefinitely. Those were some hard times around the Hanson household, what with my crippling jet lag and the fact that my wife got home a whole week later than I did. Which is especially weird since she didn’t go with me to Beijing.

But I just had to write something about what the French would call l’affaire du Plaxico Burress. I would hope football players would have learned something a whole year after the tragic Sean Taylor incident. They would have learned even more if they read my column on the tragic Sean Taylor incident, which won the prestigious Bill Plaschke Award for best use of one-sentence paragraphs.

But no, apparently football players haven’t learned that having a gun doesn’t make you a man. Not that having one makes you a woman. No, it makes you nothing at all.

Wait. I don’t mean having a gun turns you from something to nothing. I just mean it
doesn’t have any effect at all. If you were something before, you’re no more than something. If you were nothing before, you’re still nothing. You just have the ability to kill people, that’s all. Why would that make people feel so tough?

Still, Plaxico Burress had to be a big shot and bring a gun into a dancing club in the waistband of his sweatpants. I’m sure your reaction was just the same as mine: Don’t young people know how to dress anymore? I don’t care how much those sweatpants cost down at Chess King, young man–that is not acceptable evening attire!

You don’t have to get all duded up to go out. But would it kill you to put on some slacks? Maybe a nice tie? It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it helps to have a tie for every occasion. I have 47 different ties in my closet, so I can pick the exact hilarious Three Stooges scene that is appropriate for the event.

The wife and I, we don’t go out too much anymore. Or find ourselves in the same room at the same time, for that matter. But when we do, I like to make it a big affair. Or as the French might say, l’affaire du big. I put on some khakis, one of my best denim shirts, and squirt on some of my favorite cologne. I can’t remember the brand name, but I got it at a
Caldor’s closeout sale about 15 years ago, and it always attracts attention.

But that’s all I need to be ready to go out. Aside from underwear, which I guess I should have mentioned before the pants. Also, I wear a jacket in all weather, ever since the rotten neighborhood kids busted all the windows in my Kia.

Think you gotta go to a fancy joint like The Serpent Club or Studio 55 to have a good time? Listen, if there’s a better time to be had than treating your beloved to a Bloomin’ Onion for two, I don’t wanna know about it.

I know football players have physically and emotionally demanding jobs. They endanger their health, and sometimes their lives, just so we can eat nachos and wings while they battle every Sunday. I certainly don’t deny them the right to let off a little steam now and then.

I would suggest they take a ride down to my local Holiday Inn, where they can catch “Forever in Blue Jeans” in the Stardust Lounge. You’ll swear you’re actually watching Neil Diamond! The only real difference is that you’re sitting in a folding chair and “Neil Diamond” is a 300-pound Indian gentleman.

But he puts on quite a show, everything from “Sweet Caroline” to “Coming to America”, and even some of the songs in between. Throw in the free buffet, and that’s an evening you can’t beat! Plus, the show’s always over by 9:30, which gives you plenty of time to drive past your friend Bill’s condo and see if your wife’s car is in the parking lot again.

Roger Goodell says he wants to crackdown on ne’er-do-wells, and yet we see his players hitting the town in sweatpants. If he isn’t careful, we’ll start to see players wearing footy pajamas. Little cowboy hats. Propeller beanies. Pointy shoes with bells on them. The mind boggles.

But Plaxico Burress won’t have to worry about wardrobe where he’s going. That’s right–Commissioner Goodell’s office, where he’ll have to explain his poor wardrobe choices. And as you know, all visitors to the commissioner’s office must don the Pointy Cap of Shame.

Oh, and I guess he won’t have to worry about clothes if he goes to prison for three years for carrying a concealed weapon. But first thing’s first: buy yourself some nice pairs of Hagar’s, sir!