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.
I’ve been trying for a while to do that thing where your money turns into piles of bigger money, without using counterfeiting, so I have to look at investments where someone else does the counterfeiting for me. But I’m skeptical about this new one e-mailed me. The prospectus says they’re going to make self-hopping socks, so that you don’t have to go about manually making your socks fly up off the floor anymore, thereby freeing up large parts of the day for other chores, such as towel-waving. Besides the automatic socks they figure to sell conversion kits so people can adapt their earlier footwear to the new standards. They estimate growth over the first three years at “eleventy kerspillion percent” and are listed on the Camden, New Jersey, Stock Exchange, under “bouillon (soup)”. And yet I don’t know; something about it feels too good to be true. Still, it’s only a couple bucks to get started, or I can trade them a pair of worn-out sandals or some packets of Arby’s horsey sauce. I like that sense of scrappiness in a startup.
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.
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.
Shopping malls are complicated and busy things. We need a more relaxing one. I’m thinking here of a zen shopping mall, one stripped of everything distracting about the mall experience. My concept right now is an enclosed area containing just a concrete planter, and one of those perennially green plants of no identifiable species but kind of fern-ish and growing on abandoned quarter-filled cups of coffee, placed next to a Spencer’s Gifts holding a going out of business sale. What do you think?