Not So Wee Sark

December 26th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »


#1 Son gifted me a splendid biking jersey. It’s from his company’s store, replete with the Google Android bot biking. He’ll have to upsize it.

He asked last night when he called whether it fit, adding that he worked next to where the Google store is. I thought it would, after all reading XL in the tag. Hmmm, not so.

I tried this morning and it didn’t go over my large-animal shoulders, much less cover the ox-like chest. XL, you say?

It turns out to be the cycling/European jest. If you put a Tour or Giro rider next to a man of human proportion, you’ll see the model here. Professional riders tend to be short and extremely thin, ectomorphic types. Ever gram they carry on their body and bike is more inertia to overcome climbing mountains or pushing for fractions of a second in a time trial. As long as they don’t faint, they alone can’t be too thin.

That shows my prejudice. I know you can be too thin. The touchstone for many woman was Nancy Reagan, who was so frail and wispy that she was treated for anemia for decades. The heroin-addict model look and the androgynous clothes horses do and should creep out healthy people who got the right natural hormones during puberty. For me, I’ll go with a woman like my wife, with real hips and actual breasts. Pointy pelvic bones are dangerous!

So what was an XL in this jersey? Well, first keep in mind that these jerseys are made to wick away sweat. So, they are to be skintight. Moreover, they are in the European style, with accurate measurements. That is, American clothiers are generous. Women in particular like those impossible sizes of 0 and 2, so the makers of high-end women’s dresses tend to mark a size 8 or 10 with a 4 or even a 2, to allow for enough delusion to inspire whipping out the charge card. Men don’t quite get that, but there’s a two-inch sponge. A man’s 34 trousers are for a 36-inch waist and a 42 sports jacket is for a 44-inch chest.

Not so with cycling jerseys. Inches are inches and centimeters centimeters. Combined with the sprayed-on effect, it makes for amusing letters.

Looking at the Google store for U.S. customers, you can see first, pix of employees of various somatotypes and sizes, and second, the amusing size charts for men. For the latter, pants seem reasonable, where a large is large. Shirts on the other hand are European. An L can be 40, XL 42, 2XL 44 and 3XL 46. Each allows a two-inch range.

I inherited big honking bones from my maternal grandmother. Even docs have said in effect, “Jesus, your bones are big!” I come with big feet (size 13), shoulders like a draft horse, and a 48-inch chest — 3 inches bigger expanded. Those are professional heavyweight boxer specs. I don’t recall anyone ever calling me dainty.

I’m used to XL shirts and buying 46 American or 48 Brit/European suit and sport jackets, altered down in the waist. Sometimes, well-meaning relatives who think of me as this cartoonishly large-shouldered critter have wrapped up 2XL or 3XL shirts, which I could wear as a tarp or tent. Those are actually made for 400-pound porkers.

Yet, here I am, looking at the Google store and seeing that their largest size in a cycling jersey, this one I really like is in fact a 3XL. That’s for chest sizes 46 to 48. So the maximum is sized so that I should be able to jam myself into it at the top of its range.

A good change here since I was in high school and college is that such fun and colorful shirts are available at all. Plus, they are not limited to M, medium. Back then, we athletes groused among each other that we had damned little choice in clothes.

However, it’s going to take a meditative moment to assimilate the reality that in this particular line of cycling jersey, I’m 3XL. What’s in a name? What’s in a number?


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