So Out, It's In: The Baja

09/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I was sitting in a sandwich shop in Richmond, VA, eating my barbecue potato chips and watching some DNC coverage on the flatscreen above the counter when something stirred me from my lunch/TV haze. Focusing all my attention on the tube, I wondered if what I just saw was real. T'was a bright, unabashed something that had marched its way from left to right across the TV with an aplomb not often observed. No, it wasn't Hillary nor Barack, wasn't McCain nor Romney. As the colorful fixation came back into the camera's shot, it again took my eyes a second to adjust, but pointing a red, spicy crumb dusted finger at the screen, I said aloud, "No, it can't be."

Oh, but it was.

On the grounds outside of the convention, where the grass grows green and youths roam wild, a young man's fashion sense subtly reminded Democrats of an earlier time when Bill Clinton was President, U.S. war-related involvement in Iraq was about four years old, and "Beverly Hills 90210" (the original one) was at the top of its game.


Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) in The Baja

This guy at the DNC wore a 48% acrylic, 35% polyester, 11% nylon, 3% wool, and 3% cotton garment that has been Mexported to America for years. That's right, the Baja is so out, it's in.

You may be asking yourself, "Self, was the Baja ever in style?" The answer is yes, yes it was. It's been around for decades, but the Baja reached its prime in my lifetime in 1994 when being a fifth grader in Virginia meant you probably had two, if not ten bajas stinking up your closet. (They have an unmistakable burlap-smell that I happen to find intoxicating, while my sister gags when she gets a whiff. But she's weak. There's no gagging in Baja.)

As evidence, here's a picture of me in 1994. I could have littered the page with shots of me sporting the greatest wearable sack of all time, because fact is, it's hard to find a picture of me in 1994 when I'm not wearing a baja. I chose this one on the beach because I think it captures and underscores the baja's Mexican and hippie sub-cultural roots rather nicely.


It's my deep love for these potato-bags-turned-pullovers that got me so excited to see someone, a regular dude, wearing the baja. Sure, we've seen Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey wear them around LA and Waikiki, but I can't take anything they do, or wear, seriously. That said, I'm pretty sure that my love for the baja has more to do with my love for the fifth grade than my appreciation for the baja's fashion, style, or cultural implications.

So ba-ha-ha all you want about the baja, but if the poncho was able to make a comeback, I say there's a 28% chance that the baja will, too. Here's how I came to that very official and reliable mathematical conclusion: Take the current year (Yr), and subtract the year the item was last in style (LiS) to find the number of years it's been out of style. Then take that number and multiply by the number of out-of-style items you have (HmIo, standing for "how many I owned--unfortunately, I was only allowed to get two bajas; my mom wasn't exactly a fan). When all's said and done, you've reached the percentage chance of resurgence (PcOr).

(Yr-Lis)xHmIo=PcOr or: (2008-1994)x2= 28%.

The longer it's been out of style, or the more of the item you owned, the higher the percentage chance that it'll come back. So no, the baja's odds aren't great, but there's still hope. Appropriately, I'm home in Virginia for a little visit, and just walked downstairs in my 14-year-old baja to the mixed reaction of family members. My dad said "It's a beaut"; my mom wondered why I haven't gotten rid of it; my sister asked "What's that smell?"

That, sister, is the smell of a 28% chance that you'll be gagging all over town this fall.