Friday, March 29, 2013

Putting the math in fashion since 1984

                Last week I was in Portland, Oregon for a leadership conference and as the attire for most days was business casual I decided to wear my colored chinos with appropriately coordinated outfits and accessories.  As we have previously discussed, I think I’m a cutie-tootie in my ensembles (pronounced ahn-sahm-blahs because I’m like that) and I receive myriad reactions depending on the audience for these outfits.  Of course, I try to absorb some of the color.  And other than a younger, more attractive homeless contingency, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Portland locals. 
                I was staying at the Heathman Hotel.  I will let that sink in.  If you are confused as to the reference, then you’re fine; I was confused too.  If you recognized that name, know that I am judging you and not just a little bit.  Apparently this hotel featured prominently into that confoundingly popular “Fifty Shades of Nasty” book series, according to some of my friends who shall remain nameless as they should be, but I assure you are not, properly shamed.  Someone asked me if I had read any of the series, of which there are three.  I responded, “If the fans of the books call it ‘mommy porn’, I don’t think I have to read it to make an assumption of the level of yuckiness therein.”  Feel free to disagree.  It won’t be the first time we’ve not seen eye-to-eye.  I was never a fan of the gauchos/poncho trend in the 70s, although I do miss the velvet blazer/plaid wool skirt/knee boot look from the 80s.
                And I said all that to say this, the breakfast breads in the hotel restaurant were so good I was able to stop feeling all ‘ookie’ and partake each morning.  Their croissants were delectable and the scones were just delicious.  I told my Daddy this story and he asked what a scone was and I explained it was like a biscuit made with sugar, which he appreciated but it dampened my ‘fancy’ just a touch.  The manager of the restaurant was the nicest lady who remarked on my outfits every morning and decided I needed a free scone for “being so dapper”.  And since I agreed that I was dapper, I accepted her offer of cinnamon scone with marion berry jam. 
                I always laugh when I see marion berry anything as the former mayor of DC, who was caught on camera smoking crack with a hooker and was then re-elected and to this day serves on the City Council, is named Marion Barry.  I don’t know why I shared that, other than the unspoken crack addiction joke that I’m not sure is even appropriate at this juncture or any juncture for that matter.  Crack is not something to joke about, people, so stop it.  Apparently, if it’s in my head, it’s on the paper, y’all.  No apologies. 
                Anyway, on my jaunts around the city I met all and sundry of Portland.  Some of them weird like the homeless guy I gave money to for he and his woman to eat at Subway (how does he have somebody and I don’t?  At the very least, I have a home…with a roof AND walls).  Also, I had a messenger bag full of $1 coins because the public transportation that I was forced to take under pressure from my peers in the leadership conference ticket kiosk wouldn’t take debit cards and I only had $20 bills so I ended up with a ticket for a train ride I didn’t want to be on to go to a bowling alley in a sketchy neighborhood and $18 in $1 coins because that’s how they roll at the Portland Transit Authority.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Sacajawea but I don’t need eighteen of her likeness ruining the line of my trousers, which at this point were red.  What I mean was that day.  They didn’t turn red; they started out and remained red throughout the day.  It had nothing to do with setting the tone for possible gangland slaying and whatnot, although the neighborhood was a little more CSI than made me comfortable.  That the bowling alley had loaded tater tots, more than made up for it the gang territory feel of the neighborhood.  I’m not going to list where or off of what I would eat a tater tot.  Suffice it to say, when I see potatoes in ‘tot’ form, it is ON, do you hear me?
But getting aback to this homeless person, I think I am some sort of magnet for odd people (keep comments to yourself, it’s too easy) and that was before I embraced the rainbow of chinos that comprise my non-work wardrobe.  Mr. Subway and his woman saw me later that day and gave me an update on his life (his issues with Social Security which I presume he thought he told me about) and asked for more money.  When I reminded him he had just eaten at Subway in the last two hours and I didn’t think it was possible for him to be hungry again, he seemed confused.  I don’t know, maybe his girlfriend is a heavy eater.  Boy, she’s selfish for a homeless person, right?  What’s her deal?
                Portland is an awesome city because they are all about their vintage/thrift store clothing choices.  And there is a difference between vintage and thrift.  Vintage means sometimes ugly stuff from past decades at today’s retail prices.  Thrift means sometimes ugly stuff from today at past decades’ retail prices.  And, you know I love me some thrift stores.  And there are so many of these stores in downtown Portland, I found one that is solely big and tall vintage.  Who knew?  The manager and I became fast friends because she is awesome (Hi, Carlie!) and we had a fun conversation about, among other things, rodeos…in a thrift shop…in Oregon.  After leaving Fat Fancy, I got caught in a sudden sleet storm and sought shelter in the nearest Starbucks, of which there is one every 6 inches.  Seriously, there are two across the street from each other.  When I entered, I was awarded “Best Pants of the Day” and another free scone.  How people equate baked goods with awesome pants is beyond me, but who am I to argue although at this point, mis pantalones (that’s Spanish) were going to be el tighto, por favor (also Spanish), if I kept eating said scones. 
              I could find that homeless guy and give the scone to him, I suppose.  But I’m not going to walk around looking for him since I already went to all the thrift stores.  I’m wearing fuchsia chinos (with a gray pea coat and gray suede wingtips); maybe I’ll just walk to the center of Portland and let him find me.  But, is that really helping him?  Give a man a scone and he eats for one meal; give him teal chinos and he eats for one meal, if he's lucky, but boy doesn't he look good doing it.  I'm trying to stay humble but being all Ghandi-like while wearing Brooks Brothers is hard work, y'all. 
            At the very least I should be rewarded with one of those 'secret' government drones taking a photo of my breathtaking approach to men’s fashion and giving the Department of Defense new ideas to elevate their uniform options.  Khaki and Navy are not exciting colors, y’all. Do you really want people defending your country taking their fashion cues from one of those chain stores?  It’s called Old Navy for a reason, people.  We want a New Navy, which could be purple or at least aqua.  Am I right?  And Olive is not a pop color to anyone except my sister and the Mennonites.  At least Amish women embrace color and can’t we all learn something from them, other than they can be straight-up trashy during Rumspringa.  What?  I watched that documentary.  And no, I’m not talking about the ridiculous, fake ‘Amish Mafia’ that my Daddy watches.
                I have been wearing colored chinos, colored socks and pocket squares for a number of years and it seems that the fashion world is slowly following suit.  Lately it looks like an Easter parade in most menswear departments at better retailers nationwide.  Am I mad at the Johnny-come-latelies jumping on my bandwagon, which sounds like a trailer you pull behind the band bus?  Absolutely not.  If we can make the whole world a better-dressed place, I am all for it.  Plus it pays unexpected dividends: better service when shopping, access to the first-class security fast lane at airports without ticket verification (‘cause you know my government employee tail is not flying first class) and requests for assistance in coordinating outfits from total strangers while shopping.  And, as we have just learned, free foodstuffs. 
And if I become those within my sphere of influences’ frame of reference for awesome, then they will have come into alignment with the thinking I have embraced for far too long to honestly admit.  Colored Chinos + Suede Wingtips = Free Scones.  I wonder if that’s the new math I’ve been hearing about?  No child (or tacky person) left behind, y’all!
                And that is all I’m saying.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Uncle Dusty's Freshman 15

                 The Dad has historically been a man of few words and most of those were a bit salty for most tastes.  However, the happier he gets, the chattier he gets and other than oversharing medical issues related to his nether regions while I am trying to eat breakfast, it typically isn’t horrifying or surprising.  However, this morning he proceeded to inform me of his time in Germany while in the Army.

                It seems he has a past in supply and demand.  The same way Al Capone had a past in used furniture.  Apparently my father was a loan shark; I’m not sure why I’m surprised.  Tales of his sketchiness were told throughout my childhood.  Whether they were meant for my ears or not I don’t know, but they were shared.  It helps to have a father who, when whispering, simply drops his voice an octave with no discernible change in volume.  Sotto voce to him is “that thing I ate at that eye-talian place that one time, right?”

                What does this have to do with your Dad being all sketchy in Bavaria, you ask?  Well, it got me to thinking about life and college and after the last blog my niece Payton and I had a wonderful conversation about how she can benefit from my mistakes that I so eloquently refer to as ‘experience’.

                Now, I don’t see her on a daily basis; goodness knows it’s more like quarterly at best, but as she is on my phone plan and we share an iTunes account, I am privy to certain things about her.  Some of them are bothersome, such as an alarming number of songs by Jason Aldean and something referred to as Cross Canadian Ragweed, which sounds like what you would take Claritin to rid yourself of.   As I have never heard of them, I am assuming she has downloaded everything they ever recorded including, quite possibly, a sixth grade recital piece.   

                One of the good things is I have been receiving the daily reminders she sets for herself.  They have made me so very proud.  Just this past week she recommended that I “forget about everything and just be happy, with your head held high.  Never let your tiara fall” and “Remember God said not to worry, so don’t.  Give it all to him.”  She is an amazing young woman, right?

                 So I’ve been compiling a number of lists in my head and this one is all about things I wish someone had told me before I started college.  So, here is Uncle Dusty’s Freshman 15:

 1.       You are not required to choose a major when you start college.  Take some interesting classes and see what’s out there before you decide.  And don’t choose a major based solely on earning potential.  Do what you love and the money will be there.  Unless you want to be a professional clown.  I cannot help you with that.

2.       Junior and community colleges are a great alternative for many situations, including financial.  Great people come from community colleges, such as yours truly.  If you don’t think I’m great, why are you reading this blog?

3.       DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT take an 8 AM class during your freshman year.  You are not used to policing your sleeping habits and dealing with all that freedom.  Janis Joplin wasn’t referring to skipping classes in that Me and Bobby McGee song and unless you have a recording contract, you need a good GPA.

4.       Be prepared to be met.  There are hundreds if not thousands of students on your campus and, just like you, they want to meet people and make friends.  They are as nervous as you.  Just say “Hi”.  If you can’t think of anything else to say, remember everyone has a major, a need for caffeine/food and a favorite/hated class/teacher.  Remember, if Ron hadn’t said “Hi” to Harry on the Hogwarts train, they wouldn’t have had 8 hit movies.

5.       This is the only time in your life where it is safe to consume Ramen Noodles and that much pizza.  Enjoy.

6.       You will do embarrassing things; things that cause you shame.  It’s part of growing up.  Do not share confessions or photos of that shame with Facebook.  Future employers and potential spouses will see them.  And if you wouldn’t tell your mother about it, you know you shouldn’t show pictures of it to anyone else.

7.       Remember you are worth more than gold.  Never date/befriend someone who mocks you for standing up for what you feel is right.  You can always have a lively discussion with people – it’s one of the best parts of college life.  But don’t succumb to the pressure to compromise your principles.  If nothing else, remember that God, your mother and I will always love you.  No matter what.

8.       Regardless of your intended major, take at least one business class, like management or accounting or business computer applications.  Everyone can use some amount of business savvy and most jobs require it.

9.       If there is an event on campus, GO!  You can meet all kinds of great people at random events. Worst case scenario, there will be refreshments and if it’s really weird or awful, then you have a great story to tell your new friends.

10.   Always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn or earn.  There are many scholarships and student work positions.  The Dean of Students Office is the best place to get this info.

11.   If you want to be in the yearbook, join the staff.  Who do you think selects the photos, said the former editor with his picture on every other page. 

12.   Find your niche by joining a club or organization.  I can assure you regardless of your interests there is at least one other person who likes the same things.  If there isn’t a group that interests you, develop your leadership skills by starting one.

13.   Stay true to your faith.  I know it sometimes seems difficult to be a Christian and have fun but the biggest mistakes I made in my life were made during the times I was running away from God.

14.   According to police, if something is within your reach, it is legally yours.  Choose your friends wisely and don’t do anything illegal.  If you have to wonder if it’s illegal, it probably is.  And remember, the police are not your mother or me; they will not be swayed by tears, except possibly in relation to speeding tickets. But only if you are female.  Males who cry when stopped for speeding get tazed. 

15.   Don’t be afraid; college is incredible.  However, if you ever find yourself afraid, don’t let it stop you from being amazing. 

And that is all I’m saying…for the moment