Fran Lebowitz Cannot Take Men In Shorts Seriously, Is The Best

It is no secret that, other than my own dear mother, my favorite person on earth is Fran Lebowitz. Throughout the years, since I first read her books as an aspiring curmudgeon in middle school, I have turned to her words for hope and inspiration. Specifically, the following quotes:

“I understand, of course, that many people find smoking objectionable. That is their right. I would, I assure you, be the very last to criticize the annoyed. I myself find many– even most– things objectionable. Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one’s home. I do not like aftershave lotion, adults who roller-skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan. I do not, however, go around enacting legislation and putting up signs. In private I avoid such people; in public they have the run of the place. I stay at home as much as possible, and so should they. When it is necessary, however, to go out of the house, they must be prepared, as I am, to deal with the unpleasant personal habits of others. That is what “public” means.”

“All God’s children are not beautiful. Most of God’s children are, in fact, barely presentable. The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one’s soul shine through. If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive — you are leaking.”

“Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.”

See? Everything she says or writes is pure gold. Unfortunately, Lebowitz has not published a book since 1981’s Social Studies (although supposedly “Progress” is coming out this year, fingers crossed.), so I have to supplement my habit of rereading her two books with the occasional interview, and, of course, the HBO documentary “Public Speaking.”

Luckily for me, she is interviewed for an exclusive at Elle.com and, as usual, she does not disappoint, particularly with her evisceration of the phenomenon of men in shorts.

I have to say that one of the biggest changes in my lifetime, is the phenomenon of men wearing shorts. Men never wore shorts when I was young. There are few things I would rather see less, to tell you the truth. I’d just as soon see someone coming toward me with a hand grenade. This is one of the worst changes, by far. It’s disgusting. To have to sit next to grown men on the subway in the summer, and they’re wearing shorts? It’s repulsive. They look ridiculous, like children, and I can’t take them seriously.

It’s like any other sort of revealing clothing, in that the people you’d most like to see them on aren’t wearing them. And if they are, it’s probably their job to wear them. My fashion advice, particularly to men wearing shorts: Ask yourself, ‘Could I make a living modeling these shorts?’ If the answer is no, then change your clothes. Put on a pair of pants.

There are some other choice quotes in the interview as well.

On parent/child relationships today:

“To me, the main difference between young people now and the people I was young with isn’t so much style, it’s the relationships they have with their parents. Their parents like them much more than ours liked us. Our parents weren’t our friends. They disapproved of us. All our parents cared about was how we behaved, not how we felt, not what we wanted. But now I see my friends on the phones with their, what, 30-year-old kids? And they’re talking about feelings. You would think this kind of relationship would make this adult children more relaxed, but instead they’re more concerned. Parent-child relationships have become so collegiate. And so when these grown children go into the world, they expect a certain amount of attention. And they’re very disappointed.”

On the “mirror famine”:

On the one hand I think it’s hilarious that so many people think they look fantastic, because they’re wearing clothes that you should only wear if you look fantastic. If you walked around New York you would think there was a terrible mirror famine. There might be drought here, a wheat famine there, but in New York you have a mirror famine. Because everything people wear, you have to assume they bought it.

You definitely want to read the whole thing, as it is all pretty much pure gold. And, if you like that, definitely check out both “Metropolitan Life” and “Social Studies,” both of which are absolutely brilliant. In fact, I think the world would be a far less annoying place if these books were required reading in schools, but that is just me.

[Elle]