The Road to Steve

Let’s talk about hats.

By my estimation, fifty percent of my audience has just closed their browsers.  To those poor wretches that remain, I’m sorry, but the topic remains hats.

But first we’re going to talk about movies.  Trust me.  It will all make sense in a minute.

Cinema has changed since the early- to mid-1950s.  For example, Bing Crosby has never, in my recollection, ever been tasked with bringing down a helicopter with a compact car.  Dorothy Lamour, to the best of my knowledge, has never played the part of a genetic anomaly able to conjure tornados by waving her arms.  And Bob Hope, someone please correct me if I’m wrong, still cannot transform into an eighteen-wheeler, which I imagine would limit his marketability in Hollywood right now.

But I digress.

What Crosby, Lamour, and Hope did have, aside from respectable careers, were hats.  Nice hats.  Hats that do not – people of Wisconsin, I’m looking at you – in any way resemble a piece of cheese.  Somewhere between then and now, such hats fell out of favor for such reasons as I can only guess.  In its place, we have the tyranny of the ball cap, but that too is a subject for another day.  No, our subject today is this.

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What.  The.  Hell.

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Now ignoring for a moment that someone talked that poor model into putting an entire coyote on his head, minus only the parts that make it a functional coyote, I have a question.  Who was taking the picture?  And why, pray tell, did that individual keep telling the model in question to, for want of a better term, smolder.  He’s wearing 9/10s of a coyote on his head and looking at me with come-hither eyes.  I’m worried that if I give them my shipping information, he’ll come by around six to take me to dinner and a movie.

And speaking of movies, every time I pulled up this page (making sure my wife wasn’t looking and quietly explaining to [let’s just call him Steve] Steve that it just won’t work between us), I kept staring at this particular…piece.

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STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT, STEVE.

…sorry.

Regardless, every time I looked at it, the déjà vu bordered on palpable.  I found myself humming a tune I could not immediately identify, despite the fact I was the source.  Then, like the shower scene in Psycho, the answer came upon my psyche like a knife.

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Bowie…my old nemesis.  Suddenly, Steve isn’t looking so bad, if for no better reason than I don’t believe he has ever stolen a baby and performed “Magic Dance” in pants with a negative two inch waist.

Though, in Bowie’s favor, I don’t believe he’s ever been photographed wearing most of a coyote, so we might have to call it a tie.

Because, and I say this with certainty, no one is winning here.  Except maybe Inspector Gadget who, heaven help us, has the most Crosby-esque headgear of the bunch, even taking into account that it occasionally morphs into a helicopter.

Pant Rant in A# Minor

First, I admit it. My credentials in regards to the subject of women’s fashion rest completely upon occasional proximity and infrequent discourse.  But this has still been sufficient enough that I, with great confidence, have been able to identify what seems to be the latest trend in feminine threads. Now despite the potential for profit, particularly for one such as myself, I am happy to share this information with any and all who might care to hear it. Why? I harbor a vain hope that someone, anyone, will be able to explain to me the cognitive process that leads so many of my female contemporaries to own sweatpants bearing writing across the arse.

So…if I say you have a butt like a billboard, would it be considered a compliment, an insult, or a statement of fact?

Qualifiers are in order. Being an introspective sort, I admit there is a potential this is not a new trend, and that it is possible I have just noticed. Being a heterosexual sort, I also admit that there is a possibility these unusual trousers exist for males too and I have not noticed. Those two points aside, I believe I first became aware these things existed when, upon climbing a tightly packed staircase on campus, I realized that floating at eye level three feet in front of me was a pair of sweatpants bearing the college’s name swaying to and fro. I’m also fairly certain it took an additional flight before I realized that our own campus bookstore likely retailed the pants I was seeing.

Let’s begin with the obvious – there is no tactful way to read the lettering on these pants. Thankfully, I possess no bizarre reading habits such as sticking out my tongue, lipping the words, or commenting to myself about what is written. If I did, it would endanger my person when I am…gifted…with reading material on my way up the steps, across the plaza, or in any situation where I’m within earshot or visual range of the owner of the item.

Now, for comparison, I submit what one does upon coming across an individual wearing an intriguing shirt.  You know, one with lettering on it.  If the position of their arms is such one cannot read the shirt, it is socially acceptable to request they move their arms so one might finish the reading, compliment the wearer, and move on with life. In the case of an individual with a wedgie which is preventing full appreciation of the text on their trousers, I am forced to conclude that there is no polite way to ask said individual to bend over so I can finish reading. And don’t even get me started about what might be an appropriate compliment…

Does it seem odd to anyone else that, by purchasing a pair of these pants, one is essentially paying for the privilege of allowing some other company or organization to use one’s own derrière as a billboard? To my way of thinking, it seems the companies doing the advertising should be paying per column inch for what many would argue is premium space. Then again, this sort of advertising possesses certain disadvantages as well. With the exception of canines and high school dances, “rubbing with butt cheeks” and “sitting upon” are generally not considered acceptable or hygienic ways of showing affection or respect. In addition, as was already hinted at, the only way to really display whatever might be advertised across one’s keister involves all the motions, minus one, most commonly associated with mooning. Finally, if anyone happened to follow up on the ad by, say, clicking for more information, methinks it would result in a potential customer being sent to jail.

To summarize, there’s really no way to talk about someone’s butt without the above coming up.

Regardless, advertising does not seem to be the central purpose of these lines of apparel. In fact, I think the central purpose of a few of them is to boggle the English majors. My favorite example comes from a trip to the cafeteria where, upon climbing some stairs, I found myself behind a girl wearing blue pants. On the back of these blue pants, in green letters, was the color-word, “PINK.” Allow me to reiterate: her pants were blue, and she had “PINK” written across the rump in green letters. Barring one funky washing accident, no PINK was ever involved in the production of those pants. All I really want to know now is whether they make a model that, instead of “PINK,” reads, “War is Peace.” If so, it may justify seppuku.

WRONG.

Outside of pants for the delusional, they also make pants that, as opposed to words and phrases, have hand-prints in the same general location. If the goal was to illustrate the difference between good touch and bad touch, labels might be in order. And finally, I have also seen one individual of formidable girth wearing sweatpants with XXXL written you-know-where. Apparently, they’ve stopped putting tags on the inside.

In days of old if one wanted to make a point, they had said point tattooed on some prominent bit of anatomy. In more modern times, one wore their opinion on their sleeve. My generation, it seems, has pioneered a new and previously underutilized method of self-expression – the rump.

I wish I could say I’m proud.

Emily Post Part I: Facial Hair, Your Butler, and You

by The Untamed Shrew and Rampage Productions

Our family, through a stroke of debatable fortune (and obsessive rooting through the abandoned stacks at a library book sale), has come into possession of a 1942 edition of Emily Post’s “Blue Book” of Etiquette, which is not to be confused with the Kelly Blue Book of Automobiles, lest one finds oneself brought before a UN Tribunal for attempting to traffic a low mileage butler.  But having made that clarification, it must be acknowledged that Mrs. Post’s opus would benefit from some modernization, if for no better reason than uttering “etiquette” in the local GAP would likely result in the clerk telling you they don’t carry that brand.  To that end, and in the spirit of public service, we will be taking it upon ourselves to update Mrs. Post’s text insofar as is possible – because how else is one going to learn the proper method of dressing one’s butler?  For that matter, how else is one going to learn that butlers can’t be trusted to dress themselves?

Or shave, apparently.  Mrs. Post introduces the subject by admonishing us, “The ‘mansion’ of bastard architecture and crude detail, with its brass indifferently clean […] and the bell answered at eleven in the morning by a butler in an ill-fitting dress suit and wearing a mustache, might as well be placarded: ‘Here lives a vulgarian who has never had an opportunity to approach the outermost edges of cultivation.’”  This leads, of course, to our first quandary.  Specifically, is “vulgarian” a racial or religious designation?  Because if it’s the former, I’m no longer checking “Caucasian” come census time.

Regardless, to ensure all sides of this rather hairy debate are equally represented, here is a group of vulgarians (born and raised in the remote Eastern European nation of Vulgaria) that take issue with Mrs. Post’s stance on mustachioed butlers.  In song.  (Fair warning: the video contains language slightly saltier than one might hear on My Little Pony, though given how things are progressing, I figure we’re due for an episode where Applejack drops the F-bomb any day now.)

In an effort to further refine your otherwise hopeless butler, Mrs. Post helpfully provides an entire how-to section on…

Dressing the Butler

First of all, if the butler cannot dress himself, my personal opinion is that perhaps he had best seek another occupation – something a bit less strenuous and that may allow for the wearing of a protective helmet without the onerous demands of operating heavy machinery.  But for the lady of the house, who pines for the loss of her Ken doll and insists upon dressing her own butler, how should he be clad?  Mrs. Post offers these easy to remember rules:

1: “The butler never wears the livery of a footman and on no account knee breeches.”

Little known fact: The absolute prohibition against knee breeches constitutes the reason 80% of men refuse the butlering profession.

2: “In the early morning he wears an ordinary sack suit.”

The sack suit can be easily constructed at home with a thirty-gallon Hefty garbage sack and a pair of scissors.  If your butler is singularly tall, it may require two garbage sacks, lest one inadvertently violate Post’s first law of robotics.  Ideally, one should strive to avoid employing particularly leggy servants or have them walk on their knees if such cannot be avoided.  Still, an attentive lady of the house should do her best not to employ servants exceeding four feet in height.

3: “In fashionable houses the butler does not put on his dress suit until six o’clock.”

Also, do not feed the butler after midnight.  Do not get him wet.

You do not want this to happen to your butler. If it does, however, ensure he still remains presentable in his post six o’clock dress suit.

4: “And it is unnecessary to add that none but vulgarians would employ a butler (or any other house servant) who wears a mustache!  To have him open the door collarless and in shirt-sleeves is scarcely worse!”

Yet if the butler insists upon answering the door collarless and wearing only shirt-sleeves, it may be advisable for him also to wear a mustache to distract guests from the impropriety of his pantlessness.

A proper butler – or what would be a proper butler if he’d stop smiling like Norman Bates.

Important: The butler does not assist you in the shower. Ever. EVER.

On the other end of the spectrum…

Why your butler must be hairless: This mustached Butler ruined facial hair for all butlers to follow. He also ruined me for all men. Just…don’t tell my husband.

Got it?  Good.  Next time, we’ll discuss footmen, which should not be confused with Foot Soldiers.

Foot soldiers: appropriately dressed to receive Ninja Turtles – and Ninja Turtles alone

Which is too bad, because Foot Soldiers in an Emily Post etiquette book would be totally awesome.