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chris pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts, by dave carnie

One day, when it was too hot to skate, me, Chris Pontius, and all of our dumb lil buddies decided to visit Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo to frolic in the ocean and cool down. When we arrived at the beach the sun was shining, there was sand, an ocean, children, towels, it looked like a beach, and we ran straight into the water. We were young, hyper boys that hadn’t yet learned the art of sitting around in the sand and doing nothing. We just got out of the minivan and ran straight into the ocean waving our hands around like idiots.

As I was searching my archives for an old photo of Chris Pontius, I happened upon the oldest photo I have of Chris Pontius. This image appeared in Issue 2 of Big Brother and, I believe, was Chris’ first published skate photo and my first photo credit? This was taken in San Luis Obispo circa 1991 when hand railings were still a new and unfamiliar obstacle so a boardslide, especially on a double-kink rail, was worthy of print.

A note on the minivan. This story, which is obfuscated by memory, doesn’t make any sense unless Chris drove us to the beach in his mom’s minivan. When I was relating this incident to Jeff Tremaine recently, he interrupted and asked, “Wait. Why did Chris have his dad’s shorts in his trunk?” I paused and thought for a moment before arriving at the conclusion, “Maybe Chris drove us to the beach in his mom’s minivan?” Jeff leaned back in his chair and nodded as if to say, “Hmm, yeah, that checks out.” I think Mrs. P, as Chris Pontius’ mother was known to us, drove a minivan. The reason why I think Mrs. P drove a minivan is because Mrs. P always wore a visor. “Not everyone who drives a minivan wears a visor, but everyone who wears a visor drives a minivan”—is that how the saying goes? Anyway, I’m certain (no I’m not) that Chris drove us to the beach in a minivan and that the minivan belonged to his lovely mother, Mrs. P.

We got out of the minivan and ran into the ocean. Hands in the air, etc., and there we frolicked amid the waves. We likely splashed each other with water. What else do you do in the ocean but splash around? I’m a big splasher. I like splashing and getting all wet. In fact, I was on the phone with my mother recently and I remarked, “I was a big splasher as a child, wasn’t I?” and she said, “What?” I repeated, “I was a big splasher as a child.” My mother replied, “I don’t know what that means?” I’m a splasher. There should be a magazine called Splasher. I would be SOTY. As Chris and I were splashing each other he paused, looked at me very seriously, and then winked. We hadn’t worked this routine out ahead of time, but I instinctively knew what he meant: let’s get NUDE! It was time to play Chris’ favorite game, “Naked Natives,” ocean-version. (Naked Natives = nude + wild.) So we both ripped off our shorts, the only clothes we were wearing, and put them on our heads. That way our hands were still free to keep splashing each other with water. WEEEE! It was terrific fun.

I feel like I’m going to pay a high price someday when it’s discovered that I did a search for, “children splashing.”

That said, this was one of the more peculiar results I came across for “children splashing.”

While I was deeply engaged in trying to get as much of the water in the ocean on to Chris’ glistening body, I, for a moment, forgot my surroundings. It was at that fateful moment that I learned the meaning of a term I had oft heard emitted from the mouths of the fishermen on the docks of Morro Bay where I worked at the time unburdening their boats of catch, but had never understood: never turn your back on the ocean. That’s what the fishermen always said—never turn your back on the ocean—cigarette, unashed, chapped lips, fishy smell.

While I was busy splashing and making the mistake of facing the shore and the crowds of men, women, and children gamboling about the beach, Poseidon, that wily wascal of the waves, commanded a herd of his white-maned sea steeds (we fancied ourselves wild Vikings at the time so kenning is appropriate here) to stampede me from behind and strike me down with a terrific blow—POW—that knocked me face first into the froth.

The internet totally gets me. I type in, “people slammed by massive waves,” and the internet delivers me a video titled, “People Slammed By Massive Waves.” I give the internet four stars and I will definitely recommend it to friends.

The sudden violence of the impact separated my contacts from my eyes and my shorts were ripped from my head and immediately swallowed by the Lord Of The Sea. I blindly searched in vain for clothes and eyeballs, desperately snatching at saltwater bubbles, but grasped nothing. My sight and my shorts had been claimed by Poseidon and I was suddenly no longer playing Naked Native, but just plain naked. “Damn you, Poseidon!” I cried.

Being blind was a personal difficulty (I think my eyesight is so poor that I’m legally deaf?), but being nude presented more immediate, public problems: I was a long way from clothes. As aforementioned, this was during a time when Chris was fond of playing Naked Natives and I had come to love this game as well because I had also learned that it was a very economic method of generating an enormous reaction from people—by simply removing your clothes, you can cause everyone around you to lose their fucking minds. People are outraged by full-frontal male nudity. Which, of course, is hilarious. After farts, full-frontal male nudity is probably the cheapest form of humor. It’s reliable, it’s organic, and it’s a renewable source of comedy.

So while Chris and I were very much already in the habit of struttin’ about in the buck, there was something slightly uncomfortable about this unscheduled disrobing, not that we scheduled our nudity, but since I didn’t authorize this removal of my clothing I was especially surprised by the sudden appearance of my penis in the public light of day (being sober might also have had something to do with it). There was nothing to be done about my state of undress, however, and I couldn’t stay in the ocean forever, so I collected my confidence and emerged from the sea unapologetically naked (and blind) as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Chris, and all of our friends, were, of course, delighted by my misfortune. I was blind and nude in public and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. Hilarious. So I strutted about the beach with gusto almost daring my fellow beachgoers to deny me my freedom. Girls giggled and turned away. Mothers covered their babes’ eyes. Fathers scowled. Those who had an interest in large penises were disappointed. To them, I apologized. But as natural as being nude is, it can be extremely unnatural, especially when it is accompanied by public outrage. The message that I needed to “cover up” was quickly relayed to us by the lifeguard and pretty much everyone else who was on the beach that day. We didn’t have any towels and no one had a speck of spare clothing, but Chris said, “Hold on! I have a solution!” and ran up to his mother’s minivan.

He returned with a pair of lil red shorts. “Here,” Chris said handing me the garment giggling, “these are my dad’s shorts.”

This, again, is why I have surmised that Chris was driving a family vehicle because, as Jeff pointed out, why would a pair of his dad’s shorts be in the trunk of his own car? While it would be rather odd for most anyone else to be transporting a pair of their father’s shorts around in the trunk of their car, it really isn’t that unusual when I think about Pontius family dynamics: they were a very close and supportive family, adorably so. The story still makes sense to me if Chris’ dad’s shorts were in his son’s trunk. Yet for most of us, like me and Jeff, an article of parental clothing in your car is, at best, a little weird, if not, “EW! GROSS!” so that’s why I’m suggesting that Chris may have been driving his mother’s minivan, thus creating an opportunity to find a pair of his father’s gym shorts therein more plausible.

These were pretty much exactly what Chris handed me.

The shorts were ridiculous. They were red with white piping, made of some horrible material similar to canvas, and, most importantly, they were tiny lil shorty-shorts. The first thing they reminded me of were my junior high PE shorts, which were also red/white, cut from a potato sack, and sized to fit a young, prepubescent boy. As I held Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts up to my own body to preview fitting I wondered even if junior high David could have fit into them?

“These are your dad’s?” I asked, unable to imagine a human adult wearing them.

“Yeah,” Chris said, “he wears them jogging.”

I immediately jammed my face into the crotch of Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts and took a long huff, much to everyone’s delight. Mmmm, dad scrotum. And then I put Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts on. Because people were yelling at me.

They didn’t fit at all, but I was able to somehow yank them up somewhere near my waist and at least get the waistband over my penis. I looked like I was wearing children’s clothes. Which caused me to again ask aloud, “These are your dad’s shorts?” Chris nodded, yes. “Like, that man that I’ve met at your house,” I continued, “that full-grown man that you call your father, these are his shorts?” Amid his uncontrollable giggling, Chris affirmed again that, yes, they were indeed his father’s shorts. “And he wears these?”

Come to think of it, I think they might have had a drawstring? As if I, or anyone for that matter, needed it. Anyway, Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts looked like these.

I wore Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts for the rest of the day (people continued booing me, but full-frontal male nudity had been contained) and I ended up enjoying the constraint on my crotch so much that I decided to keep Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts. Which, in hindsight, seems rather rude. The proper and polite thing would have been to return the shorts after I properly attired myself with my own clothes—sort of like when someone leaves a casserole dish at your house after a party, you wash it, and return it—but I neither washed Chris Pontius’s dad’s lil red shorts, nor returned them.

And that’s how I obtained Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts. I kept Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts for quite some time. Mostly because I enjoyed the conversations they inspired: “Oh, these tiny lil red shorts? Yeah, they belong to my friend’s dad.” I have yet to meet a single person who can say they have worn a pair of their friends’ dad’s shorts.

Also: “You ran half a marathon? That’s great. Did you know that I wore ALL of Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts? You don’t see me bragging about it with a sticker on the back of my car, do you?” (If you ran a full marathon, that’s different.)

Despite their claim to the contrary, AC/DC did not have the biggest balls of them all and we know because they wore tiny lil shorty shorts that left little to the imagination. “My balls are always bouncing to the left and to the right.” Well then go put on your shorty shorts… fella.

I would find an excuse to wear them for any occasion:

  1. To birthday parties and fiestas.
  2. Birthday parties.
  3. Fiestas.
  4. I would sometimes wear them skating the ramp on the Pontius property in hopes of wooing Mrs. P by showing her how much better I filled out her husband’s clothes. Even with kneepads on I was showing a lot of leg.
  5. Soirees. One time Chris and I played Naked Natives at a frat party and took a shower in the frat house bathroom and upset a great many fraternity brothers. I don’t remember if I was wearing the lil red shorts at that particular soiree, but the event seems worth mentioning here.
  6. I enjoyed wearing Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts in front of Chris Pontius’ dad himself in hopes that he would remove one of his gloves, slap me across the face, and challenge me to a duel.
  7. I would wear them dueling.
  8. But the most important reason I wore Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts: to keep them off of Chris Pontius’ dad’s body thus inspiring him to invest in a newer, better-fitting pair of shorts.

When I think of men wearing shorty shorts (often), I used to think of 70s NBA basketball players. Not anymore. Now I think of Elton John. His shorty short game is so tight that he turned the black belt he earned for being a master of shorty shorts into a pair of shorty shorts.

It’s a shame they’re gone because tiny lil shorty-shorts for men are currently in fashion. Or is it a shame? I don’t think I have the gams for it anymore. Maybe Chris Pontius’ dad still does? He was very handsome. But we’ll never know because Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts were lost long ago, swallowed by the void (?), never to be seen again, much like the cargo shorts and eyeballs that Poseidon swiped from my head that one day in the ocean at Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo.

*********************************
AFTERWORD

Chris and I have been trying to talk and nail down the blurry details of this story, but we just haven’t been able to connect—which is understandable given how busy he’s been with all the new jackass stuff. And so I eventually said, fuck it, I’m just going to write it because I don’t care what the real story is anyway—since when have I let Truth get in the way of a good story? But now that the article is out, Chris found the time to read it and he offered a few insights in a text to me:

Hey Dave,

The story is hilarious and so fun to remember those times. So here's a few details:

— The shorts you actually found in my parent's garage after a hard session skating the vert ramp. I think you adopted them as your go-to pair of underwear whenever you needed some.

— My dad never mentioned his missing shorts, which he mostly wore while jogging or waterskiing. I've only actually known of him waterskiing twice, but he did wear those red shorts, both times.

— The minivan was actually Caleb's mom's vehicle, which he would borrow all the time. [Caleb Plowman was, and still is, one of our good friends.]

— One more detail that I remember, but possibly the most important: I remember you walking out of the water with a Taco Bell tray in one hand (that you used for body surfing) and wearing nothing but your Motörhead vest, which really completed the look! [When I visited Hawaii when I was younger, I had been very impressed that all the local kids would use fast food trays as makeshift “handguns” for body surfing. Apparently I brought the practice home with me?]

I was pretty certain my version of events wasn’t accurate, but I was close. Sorta. I mean, it’s a little off, but it’s close enough for jazz. Anyway, thanks again, Chris. And thank your dad for the lil red shorts.


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  • Clothes Half Off On Thursdays on

    That’s ‘Clothes Half Off On Thursdays’. Oops. Still lookin btw. Hope the jorts are workin out. Peace

  • Andrew Bruce on

    “Those who had an interest in large penises were disappointed. To them, I apologized.”

    This belongs in print or perhaps the top screen of a Strangelove deck or on a tshirt?

  • Brown Banana Books on

    I’m a splasher, exhibitionist and reader too and this is some of the best reading I’ve ever done.

  • Clorhes Half Off On Thursdays on

    I will look for a pair of shorts like Chris Pontius’ dad’s lil red shorts for you at the thrift stores.

    In the meantime, consider jean cutoffs. You can cut them as short as you like. (Typically so that the front pockets are longer than the shorts.) Don’t worry about goin too short. Follow your heart. Good luck.


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