I counted my shorts and I have 11. I was happy to find that not all of them had toothpaste on them. Toothpaste and shorts go together like red wine and tablecloths. They will find each other in this life and the next.

Eleven seems like a lot. Shorts appear to multiply in captivity whereas socks are like sandhill cranes, once they lose their mate, they are scarcely themselves until they meet another sandhill crane, which for a single sock, rarely happens.

Shorts can be the black sheep of the clothing constellation. Try wearing them to work. In most companies, shorts are listed in the company dress code with a “Do not” at the beginning of the sentence and an exclamation point at the end.

Is it that much better at home? When was the last time somebody — your wife or girlfriend — said, “I love those shorts you are wearing. Please wear them again.”

For men, I understand. It’s hard to dress up a knobby knee. A leg swathed in hair. Knobby and hairy is more anatomical information than most people are looking for.

I emptied the drawer and placed the shorts on the bed. There were surprises, mystery shorts and shorts with questions and no answers: Why did I buy those brown shorts when I had another pair of brown shorts exactly like them?

I took a walk down Memory Shorts Lane. Streets walked, mountains climbed and deeds modest, done and undone. I had two pairs of lightweight, won’t-stay-wet-for-long Columbia shorts — in tan and blue. They had mesh pockets that seemed sexy in an I-can-wear-lingerie-too way. When I bought them, I went on the shorts hotline and told everybody I knew but before they could cash in, the shorts disappeared from the shelves as if they were chocolate-covered almonds and they haven’t been seen since.

I had two pairs of dress shorts, fine except no one ever wears dress shorts, not even at Easter. People are afraid of dress shorts, afraid they’re going to spill hot dog mustard on them so the shorts stay in the drawer for decades, waiting for their moment to come and come it does not.

I have a pair of dress shorts that Dad gave me. Long, crisp and white, they were made by Brooks Brothers. Dad and Brooks Brothers means I’m probably never throwing those shorts away. Those shorts will be passed on to one of my sons, lucky, although he does not know it yet and he will probably pass those shorts on to his son and they will stay new because no one will have the guts to wear them. Dress shorts are legacy shorts and have a place of honor in the shorts drawer in case we change our minds.

I have a pair of brown shorts with a good heft. You want shorts with heft but not too much heft otherwise you might as well be wearing chaps. If the shorts are flimsy, you’re Marilyn Monroe standing over a vent with her dress high above her head.

I have several pairs of super wrinkly shorts. Wearing those shorts is like wearing a Shar-Pei. The pockets are so wrinkly you can hardly button or unbutton them without a rubber neck and extendo arms.

I had a pair of travel shorts that, in the adventure line, are also known as jungle shorts. These have 600 pockets, and the one you don’t zip is the one a large jungle spider crawls into while you’re leaning against a vine-covered tree.

I have shorts for most occasions but one, the shorts you throw on when you hear a noise downstairs. Do not wear shorts if you have an intruder in your house because intruders have no respect for shorts unless you have a musket peeking out of your front pocket. You might as well wear shorts to a wedding, or in this case, a funeral.

If I had to go with one pair, I’d pick the blue, baggy Patagonias. Three pockets, they dry quickly and like most Patagonia products, are sturdy enough in which to scale a coconut tree and perfect to wear when taking your granddaughter to the pool. The latter seems an adventure that I do not plan on taking for granted when the time comes.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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