Tag Archives: two wheels

Spandex and mad people

Upon my return to Canada from the UK, I’ve been given to musing about all the sights and sounds I experienced whilst there. Specifically the urge amongst many to wear skin tight clothing, particularly cycling gear. Even if they do not own a bicycle.

If there is one type of clothing that should be outlawed by international treaty, I think it should be Spandex, or any elasticated skin skin tight clothing. Leggings especially. The frame of the modern urban or suburban human is mostly best covered to conceal its shortcomings. Which in this day and age are legion. I blame this expectation of perfection on photoshopped seventeen year olds in glossy near-porn advertising photos. The truth is that none of us over nineteen have the body we’d like, but there you have it, and it’s no use trying to look otherwise. Likewise, no female over nineteen, unless a professional model, should go in for body painting.

Excellent reasons not to wear skin tight or Spandex type clothing in public:

  1. It amplifies the size of buttocks. By at least three times. It matters not that you have a superb physique, honed by daily sessions in the gym with not an apparent ounce of flab or even the merest hint of cellulite. After the age of nineteen, Spandex worn skin tight will make your arse look like it has been half-filled with bad jelly
  2. It makes you look flabby when you’re not. The slightest wobble is exaggerated past all ridicule. Each crease, each dimple develops a motion and mind of its own.
  3. Whether intentional or not, your genitalia will be on public display. Even the most discreet panty lines are blindingly visible, and anyone ‘going commando’ will be obvious to even the least observant. For females this is not so bad. For males in cold weather – well let’s just not go there. Even the most well endowed amongst us will end up with the look of a badly decapitated turkey
  4. Even the most benign perspiration stains make Spandex riding shorts look like the wearer has had an involuntary emission, loss of bladder and possibly also bowel control. None of which should be on public display. Unless of course the possessor wishes quiet ridicule to dog their every footstep. Which it will
  5. Frankly, it looks slatternly. Like you’ve mortgaged any dress sense you might have had and gone for the uber-chav look in spades. Like a Croydon facelift and metalflake purple nail varnish

To illustrate by example. About two weeks ago I was sitting in a UK Starbucks, mulling over an Americano, just idly staring out of the window, when a couple in cycling gear dismounted outside, both in their mid to late twenties, both slimly built. Fit, bright eyed and a little rosy cheeked from exertion, all smiles and self involved chatter. The girl came in to buy them two lattes as I recall, while her boyfriend responsibly locked up their bicycles. The day was damp and the Spandex skin tight, so on the way in I got an inadvertent eyeful of female camel toe and deformed limp male genitalia waggling within their elastic restraints, on the way out the motion of half toned flab was enough to make a seasoned mariner hurl a haddock. So I hurriedly averted my eyes. From the male posterior, certainly. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the expressions of certain other denizens of the coffee shop who had also watched the cycling pair come and go. I’m no mind reader, but I can read body language and faces fairly well. The expressions I caught were certainly not those of envy. Eyes rolled, three schoolgirls looked after them and giggled mockingly, and one chap hunched over his laptop glanced their way and gave a revolted shudder. Now either the pair were well known locally as those with freakish habits or had been identified as tax inspectors, I don’t know. In a good light neither was unattractive, but the skin tight cycling gear obviously affected the coffee shops clientèle most unfavourably.

For a replicable proof, any cyclist thus clad should undertake the following experiment. When next holding up traffic while pedalling up a steep hill in low gear, take a glance behind at the following line of traffic. They will, you may observe, be meandering within their lane. This is not due to any lack of control on their part. If the cyclist were to be able to observe their expressions more closely, he / she will detect an expression of amusement hastily concealed within the following vehicles. The burning questions answer being; yes, your arse does look really big in that. Enormous in fact. Possibly even deformed. Yes, the drivers behind are trying very hard not to collapse in hysterics. Sorry, but you made the fashion faux-pas. You might as well be dressed in a dayglo pink tutu with a sign over your head saying “Comic relief – please mock”. Any beeping of horns should be considered justly earned applause for your buttocks comic turn.

What does FTW Mean?

I used an acronym in this morning’s post which I think could use a little disambiguation. That term was ‘FTW‘. In the lexicon I learned as a youth it has only ever meant one thing.

Now hands up those who thought FTW means, ‘For the win’? Really? No. I’m sorry, that is so weak it isn’t true. That is geek speak, and as such ephemeral (Not to mention teeth grindingly, embarrassingly awful).

Hands up those who think it means ‘Forever two wheels‘? Work in marketing do you? It most definitely does not carry this meaning. Never has. Knowing Biker society as I used to, if it was meant to carry that meaning it would be ‘TWF’. Karol Griffin’s quotation from ‘Skin deep’ is bullshit, crap, total bollocks, and just goes to show you shouldn’t believe all you read. ‘Real’ bikers, or at least the ones I used to know, would laugh themselves senseless if they heard anyone espouse this view. Probably uttering that expression of Interweb amused incomprehension; “WTF?”

Hands up those who think it means ‘For those wondering‘? Okay, this acronym has a little more credibility as the syntax makes reasonable grammatical sense if you’re a nerdish researcher on one of the more studied and polite Internet forums. However, it is not correct.

Hands up those who think it means ‘Fuck the world‘? Correct! Go to the top of the class, give yourself a slightly tarnished gold star. This is the meaning it had prior to the 1980’s, and the one I always use it for.

“FTW” expresses the desire for the rest of the world to stop interfering, for solitude, for surcease from the falseness and the doublespeak that perverts the course of human relationships. It means ‘I don’t care, leave me in peace’s. A meaning of honest brutality. It is the last snarl against the world on a suicide note. It means; “I am going my own way and damn the rest of you.” Usually expressed in a tattoo or graffiti. It is the frustrated roar of the underdog who has slipped his leash. It is sound and fury made flesh. It is an angry phrase made from gasoline, alloy, spilled SAE 10w40 oil, scarred fists and steel toed motorcycle boots.

I can see where the other, and much later invented meanings came from. They are the lies you tell your Mum when she finds you in hospital after a nasty crack up, undressed for the first time since you were three and sees your motley collection of skin art. The lies you tell the cute Nurse or the pretty young thing with doe eyes you’re having serious lustful thoughts about. The lies you tell your beloved on your wedding night when she asks you to tell her why you got that strange tattoo and what it means. The lies you tell your parole board or crusading prison visitor (Never done time, never want to, but some of my old close friends have). The lies you tell teacher when he / she finds the hastily written expostulation in your homework and you don’t want to fail the course. The lies you tell an employer / employee who sees you with your sleeves rolled up and doesn’t know about your previous unsavory history. The lies you tell an Officer who has the presence of mind (or not) to read squaddie tattoos. The lies told to a curious child who Daddy does most definitely not want to follow in his footsteps. A clumsy but well meaning attempt to ‘gentrify’ motorcycling from its less than respectful late 20th century outlaw roots.

All the aforementioned are reasonable excuses to dilute this most pejorative of phrases. They were invented and promoted by the kind of middle class meddlers who ‘preserve’ old folk songs but deliberately exclude the mucky (and some would say the best) bits.

“FTW” is, and to the best of my knowledge has been outlaw biker / con / squaddie speak since the 1950’s for ‘Fuck the World’. The ultimate expression of frustrated liberty. Everything else is a pallid falsehood.

It is also worth noting that Vietnam era GI’s sometimes meant it to mean “Fuck the war”, but this is probably a perversion of its original meaning.