Welcome to the second installment of Ask the Magic Internet a Stupid Question. For those of you without the ability to scroll down (I’m talking to you hook hands!) AMISQ is a new weekly feature where I put forth a stupid question and use the magic of the internet to answer it. I learn something. You learn something. But we don’t notice it because we’re having so much fun. It will be like a pool party for our brains.
Come on in. The water’s cold but the women are hot!
So on to today’s question.
Question 2: Did poor people ever actually wear barrels instead of clothes?
You used to see this in cartoons and comics a lot. When they wanted to show that a character had no money or was a hillbilly or that they’d simply lost their clothes, they’d have them wearing a barrel.
Now I can understand the part about losing your clothes. Anything to hide your shame, right?
But being forced to wear a barrel because you’re poor? Did that really ever happen? I mean aren’t barrels expensive? They’re made out of wood with metal rings and they’re hand crafted by coopers. That’s a highly skilled trade. Wouldn’t it be easier and more economical to wear a potato sack instead?
Back in the 40s and 50s the only way for a woman to tell if she was attractive was to see if she looked good in a potato sack.
I’ll tell you what though. If I had to wear a barrel I’d try to get one of the ones with the straps. That would leave my hands free for begging, discarded stogie smoking, moonshine swilling and snapping the necks of delicious rats.
I could even build a little shelf on the inside to put my keys on or to put my cell phone while it’s charging.
You can’t have a shelf in a garbage bag. Nope. No siree.
I think I’d also paint my barrel. Maybe I could paint a double breasted suit on it and people would mistake me for some fat cat like that guy on the cover of that Warrant album.
Or I could paint muscles and a Speedo on it like one of those really bad aprons.
Like this but with a waaaay bigger package.
And you know what the poor white trash guys around my neighborhood would be painting on their barrels.
So tell me Magical Internet. Is it true? Did poor people really wear barrels?
Beep beep, boop boop, zzzzttt .
Magic Internet Answer: Highly unlikely. As you mentioned barrels are not as cheap as clothing and one would have to remove the barrel rings in order to take the top and bottom out, thus destroying the barrel. Wearing a barrel was used as a form of punishment in Elizabethan times for things such as public drunkenness and crimes considered too petty for the courts.
This was often referred to as dawning a barrel shirt or the drunkard’s cloak
Also some gamblers may have been forced to wear a barrel home after losing their clothing in bets. This may have attributed to the stigma of poverty associated with wearing a barrel. One could say that the modern day equivalent of wearing a barrel would be when judges force criminals to wear signs informing the public of their crime.
Or to a lesser extent, when other drunks cover their passed out friend in shit.
Wow, thanks Magic Internet!
Magic Internet: Saright!