When I see someone in downtown Seattle wearing camouflaged clothing, I assume one of two things. First, I imagine the person may be an off-duty member of the military or perhaps a hunter, and that wearing camouflaged clothing for such people is pretty much second nature to them, so they wear it in the city knowing full well that the camo does little to make them less visible walking down Fourth Avenue.
The other explanation for wearing camouflage when it doesn’t really help conceal you is that the person wearing the camo is not off-duty military or a hunter at all, but rather someone who wants people to think they are or might be off-duty military personnel or a hunter.
In such cases, the camo is less a fashion statement than a political statement, a way of saying I support our men and women in uniform and I believe in manly outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing whether I actually participate in any such activities or not.
That’s all well and good and entirely understandable. In fact, I myself own a camouflaged baseball cap with a Stihl chainsaw logo on it that my friend Rick gave me. I wear it whenever I operate the saw or split firewood. Actually, I wear it whenever I can find it. The woman who is my wife is not enamored of this particular cap, and she hides it whenever I take it off.
The fact that Wendy thinks I look stupid in the hat pretty much guarantees than I find it irresistible and wear it whenever I can find it, which, if you are married, you’ll recognize as an inexplicable but nearly universal marital dynamic.
So you can imagine my delight and puzzlement the other day when I happened to be browsing in Walt’s beer cooler, something I find myself doing more often that I care to admit, and I found myself face to can with a six-pack of Miller High Life beer. But instead of Miller’s familiar and traditional goldish-green can, (and by the way, “goldish green” is not just the color of Miller’s can, but also pretty much describes how the stuff tastes), this particular six-pack came in camouflaged cans.
I found myself wondering why the people at Miller would decide to sell their low-end beer in camouflage cans. There are several possible explanations, none of them pretty.
Perhaps Miller’s is marketing to hunters, hoping they will select a beer that they can drink while perched in their duck blind or while stalking a deer through the brush without giving their position away.
But even Miller’s must see the ethical problems of producing a camouflaged beer can that makes it easier for men and women with guns in their hands to drink. Fortunately, most hunters I know are far more responsible than that, and won’t be seduced by Miller’s camouflaged can.
Another possible explanation is that Miller’s is marketing their camouflaged beer to the same people who wear camouflaged clothing but don’t hunt and are not in the military, thus providing a handy accessory to the camouflaged clothing as political statement crowd. Or maybe Miller’s is targeting underage drinkers who might think they can hide their beer cans against their Army surplus jackets and thus avoid detection.
Perhaps the real story here is that Miller’s is trying to help people drink less by making half-finished cans harder to find. Open a can while mowing your lawn and set it down and you never see it again. If that’s true and if it works, I think we can expect to begin seeing all manner of food packaged in camouflaged. Camo Pop Tarts. Camo Twinkees. Camo Slim Jims and beef jerky. Camo Krispy Kremes.
Clearly this is an area that requires more research, and I think I know just the man to do it, and just the place to begin gathering further evidence. This time, I’d better wear a jacket. And my camo baseball cap, if I can find it.
Islander Tom Tyner is an attorney
for the Trust for Public Land. He is author
of “Skeletons From Our Closet,”
a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.