Dressing the Party


There’s an 80s Night at our local hipster bar. It’s tonight, Sunday night. The bar had been closed Sunday nights since about March, and, this is true, finally got ‘CLOSED SUNDAYS’ painted onto the back door underneath its hours. So you see why this is the sort of place where I fit in.

The trouble is the dressing-up portion. After decades I finally learned about dressing myself. So I don’t try picking anything that I think looks good. A solid color for a shirt, and a different solid color for pants, plus socks. It’s a fashion I like to call “minor character in a lazily designed comic strip”.

What happens if I pick clothes for myself? Well, take any picture from any group of the 1970s or 1980s. You see the person dressed most regrettably? I used to have that outfit. I still would if it hadn’t worn it until it had multiple significant holes. So all that is to say that once again, I can’t pick out clothes to look like I belong.

In Which I Don’t Understand My Wardrobe


It’s about time for the change of seasons. You probably know which seasons and if you don’t you can pick the ones you like. But for me the big change is that I start wearing this thing over my shirts. I’m not sure what it is, exactly. I call it a hoodie, but it’s more complicated than that, because I’m the kind of person who can make a hoodie complicated somehow. I think I might be overthinking it, but that just feeds the problem.

It reappeared a little over a week ago. I don’t know where the hoodie goes in the summer, but I can’t find it at all during the warmer months, the months I spend wondering if I should find more ways to open windows around the house besides chipping out the painted-shut frames. There were a couple times this summer I could have used it, because we forgot to pay our sun bill and the temperature never rose above 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and that in our toaster oven. I looked all over the house and even tried the mating call of hoodies and other wrap-like garments but nothing doing. It must migrate, though Wikipedia tells me most garments on their own power are able to move no more than about three miles per day at best.

Like I say, I call it a hoodie because I don’t know the names of clothes. I get underwear, T-shirts, regular shirts, sweaters, pants, socks, and hats, and then I freeze up and panic when somebody asks me what you call a T-shirt that hasn’t got any sleeves. It’s a dark gray, because somehow pretty much everything I wear turns out to be dark gray, even the brightly colored stuff. That’s for the best. I’ve tried buying clothes in interesting colors before and you can see the results by looking at any picture of any group of people from the 1970s or 1980s.

You see the outfit that makes you wince and maybe accidentally bite your lip? I used to wear that, and I probably would still except it wore a nontrivial hole in a structurally important place. You know how in life you come to do things you regret and feel shame for? For multiple years in the 1990s and in both New Jersey and New York, I wore orange sweatpants in public. I believe my friends tried to warn me about this, but on approaching me they were overcome with the compulsion to go off in the corner and weep. They were correct.

Anyway, the hoodie or whatever reappeared just as I needed it, as the temperature stays perfectly the same inside the house and every place I go, but somehow it feels colder because it’s colder outside, where I am not. As a child I didn’t understand why the house felt colder when it was winter outside, even though the point of houses is to not be outside, but as an adult I now understand: the world is fundamentally irrational and cannot be understood. Still I can’t see how this thing can be a hoodie, given how it doesn’t have a hood. It doesn’t even have the zipper or something where a removable hood might have gone before the removable hood was taken, or to put it another way, became gone.

Also it zips up, up front, when I’m not sure is proper hoodie behavior, but it’s awfully useful because I can leave it unzipped so as to show off how nicely grey-ish my blue or red or yellow shirt is. I’m looking forward to how in future decades I’ll see pictures of this and wonder why nobody told me how I looked. They have, but see if I listen. Also it’s got pockets. I like pockets. My favorite jacket ever had a little pocket on the inside just the right size for a paperback book. Its lining wore out and it grew holes in it but I liked that pocket so much I’d still be wearing it if not for all my friends tackling me, stripping it from my body, and pitching it into an Icelandic volcano, which devoured the garment in molten flames and blushed, mortified, at having this in it.

I’m not even sure where it came from, but it must have been from somewhere, because at the grocery store I saw another guy wearing what’s clearly the same model non-hoodie. Only on him, it didn’t look like something I’d wear. I have to study this more.

What I Notice In Every Old Picture Of Me


I’ve got a bit of a hyperbole problem, so I need to point out beforehand that I’m not exaggerating.

I was looking at an old photograph showing me and one of my grandfathers (I know which one but you probably don’t much care). It can be hard figuring out who everyone quite is in old photographs, because many of my old photographs come from the 1970s and you know what we all looked like back then. But you can pick me out of any photograph by looking for the person who obviously doesn’t realize that the things he puts on are going to be the things other people see him wearing.

In this photograph, I’m wearing the kind of shirt I was fond of until about grad school, when I finally learned that I always look horrible in them. The shirt has a white base, and blue sleeves, and horizontal stripes of different colors across the body. I do not blame 1979; as noted, I always picked this sort of shirt until I realized I have to just wear a shirt of some solid color, and preferably, one of about three colors.

I must have picked this shirt out myself, because my parents have always been loving and supportive of me, even that time I picked out a Tampa Bay Buccaneers T-shirt to wear even though (a) we lived in New Jersey and (b) it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (c) from the 70s, when the Buccaneers, then with two wins and 850 losses each season, had the official colors of Traffic Cone Orange and Sadness. And yet this, non-Buccaneers, shirt contains no less than four distinct browns. Also I remember it being one of my favorite shirts, even more than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shirt.

There is no defense; I just hope you will all be merciful and consider that I have to remember myself wearing this thing.

Unbared Soles


Continuing my thoughts about fashion, though, men’s dress socks are interesting, shut up, they are too, because as far as I can tell they’re the only articles of clothing men routinely buy that are deliberately meant to feel good when they’re put on. I don’t mean other stuff men wear is designed to feel bad, just that the skin feel isn’t considered. If a T-shirt had a couple poisoned metal spikes woven into the cloth, or a jacket happened to contain a spring-loaded bear trap, that’d be something guys would pretty much take it as that’s the sort of thing that’ll happen and you kind of like it when you get used to it. Not with dress socks; they just feel really good.

The trade-off dress socks have is they’re all very slightly different colors and they mutate between when you put them on and when you go out in public, so there’s never a risk of putting on a pair. Many’s the time I slipped on what looked to me like two black high-cut socks which, when I got into the sun, I found were one medium-length navy blue sock and one speckled trout who was angry but surprisingly reasonable given the circumstance. More reasonable than I’d be. It’s enough to drive a guy to tube socks.

Neither Loud nor Square. Maybe Square.


I don’t want to sound too much the Beau Brummel, but I’d like to point out that I now have the same shirt in four slightly different shades of blue. This is a big improvement on my old wardrobe, which had the same shirt in several different colors none of which seem to have been actually made by any shirt-making company on purpose (“Is that an off-grey?” “I think so”). I’m not really bad at dressing myself, in that I nearly always get the shirt and the pants on the correct body (mine), but selecting what to wear has been a problem. My Dearly Beloved has this very kind amused expression on noticing I’ve dressed myself, kind of the one you might give a Labrador retriever who’s just turned in a calculus final. Anyway, Brummel died penniless and insane and played cricket, so I’m ahead on those counts too.

What We Have In Common


There’s many things each of us have in common and in these trying times (before 11 pm, although I note that before 8:15 am is an extremely trying time) I thought it worth reviewing some of them. We each believe that we’re in the last group it’s acceptable to ridicule and stereotype in public. We all believe that we’re better-than-average at Skee-Ball. We each think that we must have missed the day in middle school where they explained how to grow up to become a Muppet, which is a pity as we’re pretty sure we would have been a good one. We all think it’s kind of amazing that people talk so little about that time a couple years ago when the continents were depopulated by people using that exotic device on Jupiter to turn into giant telepathic monsters living on the surface of that world, giving whole nations over to the dogs and robots. And we’re all horrified by how many pictures of random groups of people from the 70s include some terrible, terrible thing we used to wear, possibly as late as 1994. That’s about everything.