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BOTD 09-27-13 The Long and the Short of it - A Murray Campbell Production

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Bransom Postmaster
The Long and the Short of It
Murray Campbell

You’re a single woman living with your son Paul who is 12 going on 13. He’s a good kid thanks to the way you brought him up. You taught him to be polite, to say please when he wants something and thank-you when he’s received it.

It is just after Christmas and he comes home from school with tears in his eyes, you try and ascertain what the trouble is, but he’s reluctant to tell you for fear that if he does things will get much worse. A week or so later Paul finally tells you that some of the boys at his school have been making fun of him because he’s the only boy there who wears short trousers.

He tells you that wearing short trousers makes him feel as though he’s very much a kid; he goes on to say that the boys come up and either slap his legs or stroke them. He asks you why he still has to wear shorts when boys much younger than him wear long trousers or jeans.

As the weeks go by and with Easter approaching Paul becomes even more withdrawn, and you begin to think that the time has come for you to lose the little boy who is your son and welcome a young man into the household by giving Paul his very first pair of long trousers.

On the first day of the Easter holidays you take Paul to Hazelwood’s department store for a new suit and some grey long trousers for school. He’s overwhelmed when he tries on his new long trousers for the first time and he gives you a very big hug. The holidays come and go and Paul returns to school. Things begin to settle down at school and Paul is no longer tormented by the other boys.

During the long summer holidays, you have a very important job interview to go to and as there is no one to keep an eye on Paul, you have no option but to take him with you. You insist he wears his best suit and as you are getting ready he nips into the garden for a few minutes. While there, he goes down on one knee to tie his right shoe lace, as he is tying it, he is unaware that the left leg of his trousers, which is in contact with the ground, has got soil on it.

When Paul’s mother sees this she becomes furious with him and as she brushes the trouser leg, she tells Paul that she is of a mind to put him back into short trousers for being so careless. Paul says he’s sorry, but that doesn’t help, the last thing his mother wants before the interview is this kind of hassle.

During the bus ride Paul can think of nothing more than what he just heard his mother tell him. What will the boys do when they see he’s been put back into shorts and more importantly will his Mum carry out her threat.

I know what really happened, you see I was in that situation Paul was and I’ll reveal all in due course.  

Paul in shorts worried
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Paul in longs much happier

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Last edited by Skater on Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:40 pm; edited 1 time in total

Can you dig it?


Bransom Postmaster
I say he keep his long trousers. This whole thing is funny though because when I was in High school all the boys wanted to wear shorts.. they would only "let us" if it was very late in the school year and very warm outside.

Can you dig it?

John Boy

He can keep the trousers, but maybe Mom should teach him how to wash them, that is a lesson in and of itself.


I think Mum needs to get a grip!

If he has explained the purgatory that he's living in because of this, only a right sadist would insist upon shorts. He goes into and stays in his longs!!

Skater's right; we were only allowed shorts quite near the end of the school year and only if it was really hot outside.

David M. Katz

I am having a hard time relating to this.  When I was this age we tried our best to stay in shorts.  Even now the boys I interact with prefer shorts but I assume this is a thing from another place in another time.

Regardless, I think Paul is old enough to have a say in what he wears as long as it is decent.  If he prefers the long pants (in the summer?) then I see no reason why he can't wear them.  As Dimitri said, Mom needs to get a grip.  Boys get dirty. And like JB said - just teach him how to wash his pants.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


I really don't understand the fuss about a bit of dirt, especially if it's dirt that can just be brushed off.

I'm going to step back as mom, realize I'm stressed from the upcoming interview, and let it go.

Paul stays in longs. When it gets to be in the mid-30s, he'll be wishing he could wear shorts. As a kid in SoCal, we were NOT allowed to wear them, even on 100 degree (38C) days.


I really can't answer this, because I'd never do that to my child.


Im gonna have to DITTO MISS KITTY on this one......

I know we mom's like to keep our babies young for as long as we can but I could never do that to my child .....

this really sounds like what happened last year to my sister in law with my little nephew, who was in kinder. he was having a hard time and getting into fights at school.... due to him not wearing the same basketball shorts the other boy's were wearing. she had him wearing the cargo shorts because she felt the basketball shorts were not appropriate for sad that we are teaching our kids to be little fashion statements......

cant wait to hear your story Murray...I hope your mom didn't make you go back to shorts

hugs kal


Everyone is quite stressed. Hopefully things will calm down quickly once the interview is over.


I too have problems relating to the scenario, because I'm too young for the kid = short trousers thing that was generally going on in the "good old times". We dressed in casual clothes, mostely jeans and t-shirts, polos, or sweaters. We wore shorts when we liked to. And when I say shorts I mean shorts... Rolling Eyes 


This one definitely comes from another place (Britain) where it is rarely hot enough to make you want or need to wear shorts and another time (50s/60s) before jeans became universal clothing here and it was standard practice for boys at junior school [up to 11] to wear shorts and normally graduate to longs when they moved on to senior school. Some might stay in shorts for the first year, but after that unless it was a school that specified shorts, it would be most unusual for a boy to still wear them. I'm also not sure back then how washable grey school trousers would be befoe the age of man made fibres.

Having said that, it definitely seems in this scenario Mum does not want to accept that her son is no longer a little boy. I'd not be at all surprised if she put him back into short trousers.

Btw - in many schools here, where jeans were allowed for many years, there has been a move in the last few years to go back to school uniforms and only allow those over 16 to dress as they wish.


I think it was from about the late 60s when it became important to boys to get into longs as quick as they could. The compulsory school uniform and may be US pop culture had much to do with it. Most tv you saw had US males in longs from about age ten up. For my age group, Many of us wore short grey trousers for school and then changed into jeans when we got home. I assume Paul attends one of those prep schools where some kids might stay in shorts up to 13 but by then many were allowing their older boys wear longs hence Paul clamouring to be like his peers

I imagine Mum at this point regrets not having a bit of bare thigh to slap( that from a boys POV was another good reason for longs I recall). I think Mum is overreacting some but it is more due to the interview. I doubt the'd be a spanking as there isn't much time.The back into shorts threat can hang over Pauls head for a day or two so he learns to be more careful

Emlyn Morgan

Nice pictures.  The rite of passage from short trousers to long in my schooldays took place usually in the second year of secondary school: when we were around 12 or 13 years old.


I realize this was a British type school issue, so our American sensibilities as regards how we as teenagers saw shorts is quite different.

At the time when my mother's cousin Edward's sons visited us (this was summer '77), Dex was still in shorts at school and Eddy had just 'graduated' to his longs. Even in the late 70's, there was this sense at least at his school and in his circle. Ed was going into 4th form; freshman year of high school (9th grade) for us Yanks.


No, I won't make the poor lad wear shorts...

He can go naked and all. Razz


A bit of unasked-for social commentary:

I don't know how it is in other countries but in Britain nowadays it is very rare to see a boy in shorts except on the beach.   Ubiquitous jeans when not in school, and longs at school from the age of 5.  I think this is a shame.  With Britain's climate children need all the Vitamin D they can get, and trousers don't help.  A preteen boy's legs and knees are much better off with God's good air getting at them.

I suspect it may be different in the southern hemisphere, where I believe you can still see 18 year old schoolboys wearing shorts as school uniform.


I'm afraid I really can't comment on this one. I think a lot of it comes from what I've seen in many mothers - a refusal to admit that their son is growing up (and very honestly, a complete lack of empathy for their son that makes you question what they really feel - and I'm basing this on the fact that, after 40 years of telling my mother that I don't like being called 'baby' or 'her baby' she still does it). As soon as my son told me he was having trouble about wearing shorts, we would have put him in trousers, and that would be that. And now I have to figure out why a 13-year old can't stay by himself a few hours or would need a babysitter at all. scratch 

pushkin wrote:A bit of unasked-for social commentary:

I don't know how it is in other countries but in Britain nowadays it is very rare to see a boy in shorts except on the beach.   Ubiquitous jeans when not in school, and longs at school from the age of 5.  I think this is a shame.  With Britain's climate children need all the Vitamin D they can get, and trousers don't help.  A preteen boy's legs and knees are much better off with God's good air getting at them.

I suspect it may be different in the southern hemisphere, where I believe you can still see 18 year old schoolboys wearing shorts as school uniform.
We had a high of 88F/31C today, and yesterday was about 96F/36C. However, beyond that, as I think DMK can also attest, boys will wear shorts here even in pretty chilly weather - I often see kids wearing shorts with jackets.

Stone Man

It is obvious I have over-reacted. There is no way I will return my boy to shorts, even though he has great looking legs and it is such a shame to deprive the world of seeing them.

It has become hard to keep boys, and girls, out of shorts nowadays. Once the cold weather hits all kids are required to wear longs to school but most change into shorts as soon as they can.

Now if we could only get the boys into wearing shorts the lengths the girls do I would be a happy man. What a Face 


As it looks as though there's going to be no more replies to this BOTD, it might be a good idea to tell you what happened to Paul.

One thing I should have mentioned but didn't was to tell you that Paul's Mom has Hyperthyroidism. People with this condition are known to become irritable at the slightest thing. Which is the reason why she became so bad tempered with Paul when he'd got the legs of his trousers messed up with soil from  the garden (yard).

Later that day and after the interview, Paul asked his Mom if she meant what she said about putting him back into short trousers again. She told him she was still thinking about it. If truth be known, she was making him sweat a little longer.

When it was time for bed Paul wished his parents goodnight, he went over to his Mom and gave her his usual goodnight kiss. As he kissed his her cheek she whispered to him not to be so careless the next time he went out in the garden in his best clothes.

"Does that mean I can still wear my longs," he asked.

"What do you think?"

"Thanks Mom."

Nevertheless, that one episode gave Paul a complex about short trousers and when he got much older he began to write stories about them as well as spanking, which he submitted to a well known website.

By the way, Paul's Mom got the job and spent nearly 20 years in it.

Just for the record shorts still continue to be worn by boys attending some English prep schools, but are widely worn throughout secondary schools in New Zealand. By boys some as old as 18. Here are a few examples.

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