When the wind buffets me with its icy breath, I often reflect on an invention that revolutionized the clothing industry and brought joy to millions of lives – the humble stocking.
Now when I say stocking, I don’t mean the Christmas stocking, which is stuffed with candy, fruits, and toiletries like a hairbrush or razor. I mean the leg-hugging sock that envelops the lower half of your body, from your thigh down to your leg. What about tights or leggings, some might ask? Well, they are certainly part of the stocking family but lesser cousins to the preeminent stocking. When winter comes, the stocking rules the day.
As a man, it would hardly be apropos to suggest I had stockings. Perhaps I might use the more masculine Long Johns as my word of choice. Essentially, they are the same, yet they maintain a gendered distinction. I mean, no one’s ever heard of Long Janes, after all. To be honest, I used to have long johns, but largely due to puberty and its inherent changes (such as growing several feet in one year), my long johns are more like short johns, if anything. In fact, I have no idea where they are, but they did bring me comfort and solace during those wintry months in PA.
As an unwritten rule at CUP (my university), it seems that once it is cold enough to see your breath, it is time to wear stockings. I haven’t done an official survey of those who use stockings and those who endure the cold without it (perhaps they’re from Harbin). But at any rate, it does seem like, all of a sudden, stockings are everywhere. Largely the female population seems to prefer this apparel while the males either won’t admit to using them, or perhaps they’re too embarrassed to wear them. I should ask my class one day to unravel this curious masculine aversion to stockings.
Honestly, it’s one thing to be teased by your classmates about wearing some stockings (long johns) as a guy, but when the water has frozen in your bottle and your fingers begin turning purple, shame seems less of a factor then. The others may look cool in their baggy sweatpants, but just wait ’til they walk outside of Nantang or Nanjiao (two main classroom buildings) on a windy day. They’ll be wishing they had worn some good old-fashioned stockings.
As any stocking connoisseur would do, I researched the historical evolution of stockings from the 15th century to modern times. And apparently men didn’t use to be so squeamish about wearing stockings. I mean, certainly Louis XIV didn’t care to reveal a little stocking on certain occasions. And if you criticized him about his hosiery, he would most likely have you eating porridge in the Bastille for the rest of your life. But now, the times have changed, whether we like it or not, and it seems that stockings have become feminine apparel (which is certainly not a bad thing).
So for any of you guys out there too afraid to put on some stockings during these wintry months, just get a pair of long johns. While you might endure other students’ ridicule, you won’t have to worry about becoming a frozen statue as you walk across campus to your next class. And you just might begin to appreciate the creation of the humble, unassuming stocking.