the veX-Factor

Vex (vĕks) v. – 3. To bring distress or suffering to; plague or afflict.

Origins of the Popped Collar

Posted by markovsky on March 9, 2008

Gay man with orange polo shirt and popped collarI used to think it was physically impossible for anything to both suck and blow at the same time. Man, was I wrong. That was before I went to college and started noticing this “popped collar” trend. What would inspire anyone drive to a store, search for pink, turquoise or light yellow tennis shirts, slap down $275 for 4 of them, then walk around wearing all of them at the same time, with the collars pulled upward like Dracula?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to understand why people do this, so I’ve pieced together some ideas on the psychological profile of a collar-popping jackass. Here’s my stab at how it all started. We’ll call him Steve.

Baby with Popped CollarEarly childhood: As a newborn, Steve was as dumb as a rock. We all were. The fact that he could not dress himself, coupled with his mother’s addiction to high-profile clothing lines for babies, made him vulnerable to believing the barrage of compliments on otherwise embarrassing clothing. This is when Steve first heard false affirmation that he was cute and valued just as he was, regardless of lame clothes. As a result, Steve entered kindergarten thinking it’s okay to have small tigers and alligators embroidered on his shirts.

Middle Childhood: Imitation phase. Steve begins to develop role models and heroes, mimicking the behaviors of his favorite characters, both real and fictional. With the emergence of “heroes” such as Barney, The Count, Tele-tubbies and others, Steve’s perception of masculine/feminine color preference is heavily blurred by the time he reaches pre-middle school back-to-school clothes shopping with mom.

The Count from Sesame Street explains the benefits of the popped collarThis shopping trip was perhaps the most defining moment of Steve’s perception of coolness. At the local Abercrombie & Fitch, 20 different shades of Easter-egg pastel colored shirts looked Steve in the eye. He tried on a few. Second guessing his choice in colors, Steve glances around the techno-pumping store and spots the exact same shirt that he’s holding, only wrapped around a hard-bodied, chiseled Swedish farm boy mannequin. Feeling halfway justified, he turns to study the massive image ad spanning the entire wall, depicting a college kid in a pink popped-collared shirt, with three trashy young ladies mounting and licking him. Now feeling fully justified, Steve and his mom head for the register.

Old man with a popped collarAdolescence: The identity crisis. These were the years when Steve’s overly-ambitious father sat him down and explained the remarkable success of great grandfather Heinrick. Questions arise in regards to what he wanted to be when he grows up, and the expectation is set by his father, that Steve would carry on the legacy of success. From that night on, Steve carried a picture of his grandfather in his wallet and referred to it occasionally.

Popped collar on Hillary ClintonCollege: The exploration phase. Having left the nest to attend college, Steve-o gathers fresh inspiration from world-renowned writers, scientists, artists and politicians. Playing “Edward 40 Hands” every weekend and a minor football injury are believed to have further impaired his fashion judgment, as well as his inability to recognize that his non-athletic human friends are neither “players” or “dawgs.”

Four popped collarsFrustrated by the growing number of other popped collar enthusiasts, Steve wonders why gorgeous ladies have not mounted and licked him yet, like on the Abercrombie Ads. Steve persisted on being different and much cooler than the other losers who fold their collars. He decided to increase the number of simultaneous popped collars, similar to upping a crack dose after a tolerance is built up. A simple formula would raise his awesomeness exponentially: Increase the number of simultaneous popped collars.

Today, Steve’s as free as a bird (a colorful one with ruffled neck feathers) and untouchable in his coolness. Every morning, shirts stack up and pile on like colorful rings on some Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack. Heads turn, strangers take pictures on their cellphones and middle school girls giggle when he walks by. Regardless, he and his counterparts continue to walk by. Daily.

Steve’s condition is tough for most logical thinkers to comprehend. His desire to be different and noticed (ironically) drives him to be the same as all of the other spiky-haired, flip-flop wearing, collar-popping frat boy bee-otches. And while I’m baffled at Steve’s collar-popping habits, I’m equally dumbfounded at the few who will undoubtedly watch him, raise their own collars and wander the streets like drunken draculi, showcasing their “blah” and “sucky” fashion sense, as they too, spread the plague of the popped collar.

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