Lindsey Miller first took note of the boys who refused to wear long pants when she was in grade school. At her elementary school in Maryland, a few particular boys made a habit of wearing shorts to school all winter, even though January temperatures in the mid-Atlantic state routinely drop below freezing. And it was always boys, she told me, never female students—“Girls made fun of them, but other guys cheered them on,” she recalled. One kid she knew in third grade, whose name has escaped her memory in the decade-plus since, “wore basically the same pair of shorts all year,” Miller, now 20, remembered.
The “one kid who wears shorts to school all year”: In regions that get cold and snowy in the winter, he’s a figure that’s equal parts familiar and bewildering to kids and teachers alike, and his clothing choices present an annual hassle for his parents. On Twitter, where Lindsey Miller once joked about the middle-school winter-shorts boy, he is in fact the butt of a number of observational jokes, many of them from classmates and beleaguered moms and dads: “There’s really this dude wearing shorts at school… IN THE WINTER.” “Have kids so you can argue with tiny, opinionated people about why they can’t wear shorts in winter and then coats when it’s 80 degrees.” Educators at a middle school and high school in Minnesota confirmed to me that they can count on having two or three of him every year, arriving at school after braving the morning windchill with bare calves. (In the interest of transparency, both were former teachers of mine, who I’m sure were perplexed to hear from me for the first time in more than a decade only to be asked about this.)