As with any great streak—Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games with a hit, Byron Nelson’s 11 tour wins, Whitney Houston’s seven No. 1 singles—Bruce Gunn didn’t set out with the intention of not wearing pants for 1,494 days. It just happened. One day he wore pants. The next day he didn’t. For more than four years, just shorts.
If you listen to KERA 90.1, you know the sound of Gunn’s voice. He does traffic reports for the station. Gunn actually works for another company, Radiate Media, that places reporters at radio stations in exchange for airtime that it sells. Even though he’s not technically an employee of KERA, Gunn still wanted to make a good impression on his first day at work back in July 2008. So he wore jeans. After a day or two, though, he got comfortable, and the pantsless streak began.
“I am just hot-natured,” Gunn says over a hamburger at the Stoneleigh P, just down the street from the radio station, between his morning and evening shifts. “I sweat like a pig. There’s no other way to put it.”
Gunn is 49 years old. He’s a big man who laughs easily and plays drums in a classic-rock band called Blue Tizzy. It goes without saying that he prefers to dress comfortably. On this day, he’s wearing cargo shorts. He owns 14 pairs of shorts.
“People have asked me,” he says, “ ‘Do you own big-boy pants?’ ” He does. Three pairs of jeans, one pair of khakis, two pairs of slacks, and one suit.
During his four-year pantsless streak, Gunn’s biggest sartorial problem came at a NASCAR race. He had a VIP pit pass. But shorts are not allowed at NASCAR races in the pit area. Gunn was turned away.
He knew all along that he couldn’t wear shorts forever. “There’d be some day,” he says, “when I’d have to wear pants for a wedding or something.” Sadly, the occasion that ended the streak was a memorial service for a family member. Gunn considered going to Goodwill and buying an old pair of tuxedo pants that he could cut off and make into “funeral shorts,” just so he could take a picture and shock his co-workers. But there was never a question about what he’d actually wear.
“If it had been some sort of outdoor, free-love funeral, it might have been different,” he says. “But it wasn’t like that.”
On September 3, 2012, Bruce Gunn wore slacks. But, as he’s quick to point out, his pantsless streak at work is still unbroken.