Bill Sniffin: Fashion Commentary On Holsters, Fanny Packs, Pocket Protectors, Nose Rings

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By Bill Sniffin

Believe it or not, this column is about fashion trends.

My first story is about a time a few years ago when I was in the bar area of the Lander Community Center during a charity fund-raiser to benefit disabled veterans.

“Are you packing?” 

I did not think the question was meant for me. I kept minding my own business. 

“Are you packing?” the voice to my left continued.  

I looked over and here was a nice-looking female. She was the one asking the question.

When my look back at her was obviously a confused one, she asked me a third time: “Are you packing?”  She pointed to the holster attached to my belt on my right side. 

I turned and showed her it was just my cell phone. 

“Oh,” she said, “I thought you were packing a gun, wearing a holster like that.”

“No, it’s just my cell phone,” I answered. 

Now, I pal around with a lot of guys who are armed most of the time. Some carry guns in their boots, some in hidden holsters, and sometimes, right on their belts. Several have loaded hand guns in the glove compartment of their cars.

Dave Simpson of Cheyenne of column writing fame had this to say: “I don’t pack my .44 special because I’m afraid I’d drop it and shoot myself.”

I have not gotten into the habit of packing a firearm. Crime is very low in Lander and I have not felt the need to “pack.” My wife thinks we own too many guns but that is another story. 

My friend Tom Cox credits my holster with helping to keep the crime rate down in Lander. “I suspect that you may have contributed more than you may realize about crime being very low here.” 

Another friend Ben Freedman says: “My cell phone will never be confused with my 9mm strapped to my belt. Instead, my cell phone is stuffed into my left front pants pocket. Now since I’ve retired 10 years ago, stuffing my wallet in my right front pants pocket and my cell in the left front pocket seems quite sensible. 

“Since my butt left me long ago maybe I should consider stuffing my back pockets rather than my front pockets. I know I’m not fooling anyone with the front pockets.”

But that woman’s question about my cell phone holster got me thinking. Am I out of fashion? Does wearing a cell phone on my belt make me an old fogey?

So, I started looking around and observed that just about anybody under the age of 60 does not pack a cell phone in a holster. They either keep them in their pockets or stuck somewhere else. That holster that I have fondly used for 25 years is decidedly out of fashion flavor.

Thus, the reason the woman asked if I was packing was that no doubt nobody in her immediate circle used a cell phone holster. And probably never had.

John B. Brown chimes in: “The holster for cell phones is much harder to find these days. The Verizon store on Main Street mainly sells protective cases, usually made of shock-resistant plastic. 

Has the cell phone holster gone the way of the pocket protector?

To young folks who have no idea what I am talking about, when I was in school back in the 1950s and 1960s, every teacher and most professional adults wore a plastic pocket protector that fit inside a shirt pocket. That was where you kept your pens, pencils, paper clips and whatever. It was handy. 

About the end of last century, the pocket protector went out of fashion for good. You never see them. Like my holster, they broadcast a certain fashion statement that is not a compliment.

Greybull native Diana Dowling says: “My dad, Art Schutte, was a railroad conductor and ALWAYS had his pens in his shirt pocket protector.”

During my research of cell phones, I noticed that every little girl, aged 8 or higher and older gals, too, packs her cell phone in the back pocket of her jeans. The phone sticks halfway out and apparently is jammed into an unbreakable case called an Otterbox ™. It is strong as iron and the phone would never break even when you sit on it, which happens a lot.

As an aside, can I say that I hate this new style of nose rings that is suddenly popular with females (and some males). It is because I spent so much time as a young reporter writing about pig farmers in Iowa. All their big old hogs had prominent nose rings. Sorry gals, but your new look makes me cringe. 

But back to cell phones: there are an inordinate number of women of all ages who pack their phones and car keys around and stack them somewhere in their immediate vicinity when they are drinking coffee, having a drink, or practicing yoga, etc. 

Seems to me that I need to get back on the fashion track. Not sure how I will replace my cell phone holster – my holster is too small for any of my handguns. 

I am not ready to put my phone into an Otterbox and sticking it in my back pocket. I know one young robust woman in her 30s who claims she sticks her phone in her bra – no kidding.  

Ron Gullberg of Cheyenne (also of the Wyoming Business Council) shares this fashion observation: “My kids still tease me about my fanny pack I wore for a while some years ago. Hey, it consolidated my keys, wallet, Copenhagen, and Razr phone.”

Recently, I passed an age milestone, which caused me to write the following: “Am I finally at that age when I can wear my pants with the belt up around my chest?”

Perhaps the more meaningful question was: “Does this mean I can finally wear black socks and formal shoes with my walking shorts?”

Folks, I am just trying to keep up with appropriate fashion trends. It looks like my cell phone holster is toast. However, I am definitely not ready for a nose ring. 

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