When the alarm went off at 7am this morning not even the dogs stirred. Who’s idea was this Daylight Savings krep? Jeebus it was tough to rise before the sun again. Letting the dogs out I sighed at the thought of another cold, grey miserable day in Minnesota, and thought “We’re going to have all we can do to keep from sticking our heads in the oven today.” Rummaging through the closet for something to wear I noticed for the first time that all my dress clothes seem to reflect the colors of a Minnesota winter. Was this is subconscious choice reflecting my love of work? Perhaps, but it’s also as much of a statement about the effort I put into choosing clothes. 15 different shades of blue, black, and grey makes dressing in the dark infinitely easier.
Growing up in Catholic schools I’ve never had a problem with dressing up. When you wear a tie everyday from 1st grade to High School Graduation you get desensitized to it. Knowing nothing but parochial schools I never realized how different from the normal public school experience this was until my Senior year at N.D. Being near the top of the class in Math, I was offered a chance to skip ahead to college level calculus, and take one class at day among the heathens of Batavia High School, and I jumped at it. Of course, the fact that I was dating a girl at BHS probably had more to do with it than a desire to learn math.
So each morning began, not at N.D., but in the forbidden halls of BHS. Heading to my girlfriends locker through the crowded halls, I felt conspicuous in my tie and dress clothes. I also discovered that unlike the N.D. girls, who were also desensitized to dress clothes on guys, the BHS girls kinda dug it. I got more positive comments about my clothes during that year at BHS, then all the comments I received before, or since. Who knows, if more teenage boys were clued into the fact that girls pay attention to how they dress, maybe we wouldn’t grow up to look like such schlubs. Humans seem to be the only creature in all of creation where it’s the female of the species that dresses up to attract a mate.
I pondered that as I picked through my collection of dress shirts with frayed collars, lightly dog-chewed dress shoes, and cracked leather belts this morning. At what age did I stop giving a damn about my looks? Tough to say but I’m guessing it correlates with the birth of our children. There’s something biological that causes men to start wearing socks with sandals and Bermuda shorts after they become a father. One of the most solemn and important duties a father has in the family is to bring embarrassment to his children when out in public. Also, we give up any pretense of ever being hip or relevant again.
Putting on my dingy wool overcoat, and mechanic gloves for the drive to work I decided that I’m OK with that. Sure, it would be nice to have someone complement my clothes again before I die, but is it worth the effort? Probably not. In fact, once a man reaches a certain age it’s almost pathetic for him to attempt it. There’s nothing sadder than a guy going through a midlife crisis trying to look hip. So when these clothes finally get so ratty that I’m forced to set foot into a clothing store, instead of trying to look trendy and embarrassing myself, I’ll continue to focus on embarrassing my children.