I’ll admit to it. I wore Hammer Pants. And it wasn’t just once. Or twice. I had a veritable plentitude of styles stuffed in my dresser drawers to choose from. I had gecko hammerpants, rainbow hammerpants, velcro hammerpants; polyester hammerpants, nylon hammerpants, dressy hammerpants; poofy hammerpants, slender hammerpants, denim hammerpants.
In many ways I was ahead of my time, riding the ever-swelling fashion bubble toward the advent of the “baggy” style that eventually evolved and dropped the rodcone numbing flare of its humble predecessor like a cloth, plastic and velcro version of Vanilla Ice’s singing career. Whose album, consequently, I also owned, and suffered a similar fate as the style to which I so lovingly refer.
I remember lusting after the hammerpants that changed color as you wore them, changing color with your changing body heat. This allowed you to entice envious friends to leave a white handprint on your leg, or to leave some other creative semi-temporary representation of their body heat to linger on your kneecaps or buttcheeks. Of course, I didn’t consider the danger of such things at the time, being a small, chubby, rather flatulent child, and now that I think about it, the undulating bright white cone shape around my ass would have been truly embarrassing. The smell I could explain away (people’s sense of smell is so prone to misjudgment and misdirection) – but I’m sure I would have had much more trouble with a bit of recurring visual evidence.
They had many advantages, hammerpants. They were easy to put on; allowed for comfortable movement from place to place; gave ample room for chubby little fellows to mask chubby little legs; doubled as pajama bottoms; hid mysterious stains with vibrant, swirling colors; lent a certain delusional sense of rhythm to the wearers; and were a big enough craze that thousands of generic counterparts were manufactured – thus driving down the price and bringing the mass-marketed image of a short-lived rap icon named M.C. Hammer to young white kids living on cattle ranches in Northern California.
Of all places.
Hammerpants! Oh yes, I too had many pairs of them and I too owned a copy of Vanilla Ice’s “To the Extreme” album in the early 90’s.
Hammerpants actually brings up a good point in the topic of white suburban youth longing for some sort of African-American identity. Since the mid 80’s when Run DMC could be heard blaring through the halls and parking lot of my high school it seems that groups of young men began talking in terms of “Yo” and “Wassup” instead of the usual, “Hey, how’s it going?” which seemed to be just fine up to this point. I noticed the trend right away because I was one of the one searching for identity in these confused teenage years and if I wanted to fit it I better damn well have been wearing Hammerpants and talking in my new found ghetto slang.
I actually became a dj and started spinning mostly rap & R&B records for my high school dances, weddings and eventually at a club in the city I went to college in. It was very odd standing behind the turntables at the club where I spun rap records and looked out into a pool of all black faces on the dance floor. Did I mention the fact that I am about as white as they come? To me it didn’t matter, I loved the music and I fit right in with my new black friends. I admit, some of them did not like the fact that I was djing at an all black club but this was nothing that playing Snoop Doggy Dogg’s hit “What’s My Name” couldn’t quickly remedy at this time of discomfort.
I wore my Hammerpants to every occasion, I didn’t care if I was going to a formal dinner with my girlfriend and her parents or I was out working on my mini-truck, my Hammerpants tightly adorned my buttocks for many years as a teen. I look at pictures from the Hammerpants era and I have to now ask myself…”What the hell were you thinking boy?”. It is pretty entertaining to thumb through the old high school year books and see pictures of myself then and easily remember why I didn’t get laid very much in those four difficult years of identity seeking.
Hammerpants are very far and few between now but I do see some still being worn religiously by a few people out in public from time to time. There must be a Web site dedicated to the sale of Hammerpants somewhere because I can’t recall the last time I saw a pair of them on the rack wedged between the Hagar slacks and Levi’s 501’s at the department store. I think Hammerpants were great and if they start to make a comeback I will be the first in line to pick some up. If you think about it these pants are perfectly engineered for optimum package placement and ventilation, hell, I will buy stock in the company if they decide to re-emerge from the depths of the 90’s pop culture cave they have been hiding in. I say bring Hammerpants back! Just leave Vanilla Ice in retirement where he belongs, I think Eminem might have something to say if Vanilla Ice decides to start rapping again…
One of the best memories I have about my polyester Hammer pants was wearing them in the wind. Not while breaking wind, mind you as that is another story, but in the wind. A strong wind would blow up those imitation pants like a hurricane through a Wal-Mart bag and pick up your legs when walking. I was sailing on land. That cheap material flapping around my legs in a wind storm felt great!
Damn, I was cool!
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