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Monday, July 27, 2015

My Second Blog About Jeans

There are few stories as tedious as Last Night's Dream, and yet here I am about to tell you mine. Some backstory first: I just had a birthday. The good old 36, that milestone of milestones. Black cakes, tombstone party favors, some kind of joke about hair loss. You get the picture. I'm dying.

Anyway. I've spent a good long time on a certain website "pinning," as the 2015 vernacular calls it, various menswear. I have this picture in my head of a simple wardrobe built out of a handful of timeless staples that can be combined and recombined into endless outfits. It is my white whale, this wardrobe, in that I would like to float it all in water and throw spears at it.

I took the opportunity of the celebration of my very entrance onto this green earth to pick up a handful of these items. A good pair of jeans (the struggle continues), some chinos, a dress shirt, a tie, and a sweater. I had a list, I acquired, I strutted out of the mall triumphant. I shopped deals when necessary, but also paid Full Retail Price for some items (I am not in the habit of doing this) and I'll be honest. It was empowering. I was Consumer.
It is a short time later now. I have worn all articles of clothing in one way or another except for the sweater because it's summer and I am not a monster. I am going to tell you a very sad secret: there is a part of me that thinks that if I dress nicer, people will take me more seriously. That maybe it's been the missing key all along, the thing that separates me somehow from this idealized version of myself. Yes. I'm a piece of crap and you don't need to tell me though if you do I will only nod sadly, saying "Yes. I am Consumer."

What will probably not surprise you was that I was treated pretty much the same in my new duds as I had been in my old ones. At the fireworks stand I was not given a significant "handsome guy" discount. At Macey's I was flirted with by neither female nor male staff, though IMO the jeans were fly and although all overtures would be kindly rebuked by a fluttering of the ring finger, they would be acknowledged as very flattering and thank you so much.

That night I had a dream. And we're talking Psych 101 interpretation zone here. I dreamed that I was going to the pool with the kids, and this time, upon removing my shirt, I was not disappointed by the usual milquetoast sight, but delighted by a seeming overnight change in physique. I was, as mothers in the 90s often put it, a stud. The teens of today would say I was "swole." The novelty of my new-found rippling torso soon faded, as I realized that the world around me turned in a way that was as mundane as always.

Obviously there's a line here. If I'd walked around the teeming burg of Ogden, UT in my pajama pants with the pixelated skulls on them and a Confederate flag t-shirt, I assume eyebrows would have risen. If I'd worn a tuxedo, maybe someone would ask what the big event was. If I said it was buying fireworks, maybe they'd they'd want to hear the story, or maybe I'd get a handsome guy discount, honestly I don't know. I do know that even when the jeans are fly and confidence is soaring, there's only so much dressing like a normal dude will get you.

At this point, people are on board with you or they aren't. Maybe I even looked dumb in the jeans (impossible!) because they're not my normal fit and people thought a guy's legs shouldn't look that long. At worst someone might think either those jeans are not working. At best the most desultory of human thoughts just fluttered at the surface of consciousness: those are cool jeans, followed by immediate mental dismissal. Maybe nobody gives a crap about clothes and just look to see if my dimples are showing. I have no way of knowing.

My wife was very complimentary, which is always always lovely, and honestly the main reason I want to look nice. My uncle noticed that my shoes and tie matched today, and an aunt said that I looked "sharp." Nobody spat on me and I was not harassed by street toughs or a police officer. All in all I would say I made out better than 98% of all humans who have lived on the planet. It's just that when there's only a bit of pie left and so many hungry people, that last 2% looks pretty damn good.


Folks, you can dress up ol' Howie in the fanciest duds in town. Like the towniest guy on main street in the old west, the one with the bowler hat and the vest, and he's still going to be that rugged ne'er do well with the repeater under his poncho, chewing a cigar. Your boy simply cannot be tamed.

You know who else can't be tamed? What's-Her-Name, the main character in We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler which is a book I disliked but enjoyed singing "We-Are-Pirates, Dun-Da-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun" to the "We are Farmers" jingle so I guess it wasn't a complete waste.