I went on a bit of a fashion tirade in a previous post about guys and “casual fashion” in restaurants and the general demise of the dress code. The wearing of the ratty T-Shirt, shorts and flip-flops as an all-occasion outfit on weekends is a way for most men to say, “You know, I just give up. I don’t want to try to keep us with any kind of fashion trend anymore; and who has time to shower and press a shirt anyway.”
Guys are generally not very fashion conscious. Straight guys, that is. Straight, white guys, that is. I am by no means a fashion guru, having just recently learned that double-breasted suits (or any suit, for that matter, with more than two buttons) are out of style; but I do try to learn as I go. Some of my suits are old enough that I get a tag like this one when I send them in to be cleaned.
I’m surprised that the cleaners didn’t put something in the “Remarks” space like “You’re kidding, right? You’re still wearing this?”
A lot of men are frozen in a wax-museum-like snapshot from some time way back in fashion history. At some point in their youth someone (in most cases a woman so good looking that they had absolutely no chance with her anyway) told them they looked “pretty good” wearing a certain style that was “in” at the time, and they have dutifully worn it ever since, adopting it like a stray cat. This explains that guy you see out on Friday nights at the bars, still wearing his dirty “Members Only” jacket; or the old guy in the pink oxford shirt, white khakis, and loafers, with the Yacht Club hat that he saw in a Hugo Boss ad in 1988, and he wears it no matter what month it is; and of course there’s the white guy still sporting the disco-fro he adopted in 1980 (my daughter calls this look “Age-Inapproriate Hair”). An easy guide to staying ahead of the fashion curve for us old white guys: if old, white guys are wearing it, it’s out of style for everyone else already and should be abandoned immediately. You would also do well to occasionally buy one of those GQ’s that you otherwise give only a passing glance at the airport newsstand.
Anyway, it all makes for great people watching when the local color is out in force as it was yesterday. We dropped in at a local Mexican-themed bar and grill whose saving graces are a decent plate of nachos and a nice big deck overlooking the river. We have learned we need to give implicit instructions to the bartenders here on how to make a Margartita, as we will otherwise end up with the Americanized version comprised of Jose Cuervo Gold (the Wonder Bread of tequila’s) and too much Sweet and Sour. So, after a first round that we had to send back to be recontstructed, we are enjoying said nachos and a decent beverage on the deck. One of our favorite local musicians is performing with a band comprised of some very good, old rocker dudes; an almost-warm, gentle sprinkle of summer rain is falling on us, and I am so reminded of the South.
The rainy scene on the deck, overlooking the river and surrounded by oak trees, takes me back all at once to sitting in a hot and humid spring rain waiting for Allen Toussaint to hit the stage at Jazz Fest; eating Low Country Boil outside, under the oaks at the Crab Shack in Savannah; and to watching the neighborhood kids riding their bikes to stay just ahead of the curtain of rain marching steadily down the street during one of those every-day-at-three-o’clock thunderstorms in New Orleans.
The old guy in the Hugo Boss Yacht Club outfit is boogying to a reggae version of a Neil Young tune up near the band, and most of the locals are huddled under big orange umbrellas normally used for keeping the sun off of them; but we are out there, unsheltered, enjoying the weather and the memories, and I am worrying slightly about the body-piercings on our young waitress drawing a lightning strike. As this is Napa, not Louisiana, after a couple of hours the rain is beginning to turn cold enough to finally be uncomfortable, the Margaritas are kicking in, the third set is over, and so we decide it’s time to go. A brief but blessed reminder of some good times had in the past and of what not to wear in the future.