THE BLOG
12/03/2014 06:41 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2015

Being Called a Creeker Was Not a Good Thing In My Neighborhood

Growing up in the '70s, the ultimate insult in my neighborhood was not somebody saying "your momma." No, the ultimate insult in my neighborhood was if someone called you a "creeker."

In general, the term "creeker" was a term thrown around like someone might use the term "low rent" today. It referred to a lower socioeconomic section in our part of town along a waterway called Rocky Creek. Yes, nowadays this behavior would be viewed as bullying, but in our defense, the "creekers" did little to enhance their reputation. I remember one boy claimed in the 6th grade that when the creek flooded, their house floated off its foundation and they had to pick it up out of the street and put it back up on the concrete blocks.

Looking back, that story is a little suspect. These houses had indoor plumbing (we lived in suburban Florida, not rural Appalachia) and had to be attached by water, sewer and electrical lines, which would have limited their movement during what were not major floods, but basically the creek rising a few feet above its banks.

Being identified as a "creeker" had implications even with our parents. My wife's mother got enraged when, at Christmas time, charities would call them offering to deliver food and presents. They had the same last name as a "creeker" family and lived on the same street, but at the opposite end in their palatial 1500 square foot suburban tract home. My Mother-In-Law wanted to make sure these charities knew they were not a 'creeker' family.

The biggest reason, however, that someone would be called a "creeker" in my neighborhood was not to indicate or bully you for being poor. It was to insinuate or point out that you had committed the ultimate fashion sin you could commit in the 1970's.

You were wearing high water pants!

Basically, pants that were too short and showed too much leg. For the majority of the '70s, LOOONG flaired pants were the fashion. Not Bell Bottoms, that was the early '70s. Flared jeans were the norm and they did look really bad when they were too short. Unfortunately due to their economic circumstances, this was a common situation for the creeker kids. There was also the idea that the short length of the pants helped keep your pants dry when the creek came up.

Remember, this was adolescence, so we were going through growth spurts, parents may have been involved in the buying of clothes and bought them too short and made you wear them anyway, plus clothes in the '70s seemed to shrink a lot more than they do today.

The fear of wearing highwaters and consequently being thought of as a "creeker" haunted me well into the late '90s. Part of this was because my true pants length is probably a 31, but try to buy regular men's clothes in that length. They are available in 30 or 32. So I bought 32's and wore my pants too long, often with frayed cuffs. But to me, frayed cuffs was much better than wearing highwater pants (yes I did sometimes have alterations done, but that was a hassle) and even though no one where I lived at this point in my life knew what the term meant, I of course did not want to be identified as a "creeker."

I finally had a breakthrough that solved this problem in the late '90s --I found Ralph Lauren Polo. Their 30-inch length pants are the PERFECT length. Guess what? 90% of my clothes are now that brand because they are the right length. No more frayed cuffs or alteration hassles. Yes they cost a little more but they last forever and no one will say or think -- "Look at that creeker."

Childhood issues, even if trivial, can last a lifetime.

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