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Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Elementary

I had a revelation this morning. More like a Homer Simpson "DOH!" and I have Robert Downey, Jr. and my younger son to thank for it. It started simply enough. Last night, the hubster was out. He volunteers at an organization that gives him great pleasure, and he's usually gone at least one night a week. Well, last night BOTH my sons were home, miracle or miracles.

So after a casserole and "Jeopardy!" and "The Simpsons" we started casting around the TV guide and I landed on "Sherlock Holmes". The dock had just blown up (one of my favorites scenes, btw, not because of the explosion either, although I LOVE explosions, but because it so defines the Holmes/Watson relationship) so we didn't have a LONG way to go. We left it on because both my son and I have fallen head over heels in love with the movie, which rather surprised us both. I have a portrait of Holmes in the dining room, I've had it since before I even MET the hubster. so the boys, of course, have grown up with the gentleman from Baker Street. Personally, I am always suspect of writers and directors taking on the Master.

THIS attempt is MOST satisfying. Holmes as a bad-ass with a human characteristic or two. Not many, but enough. But I digress.

Towards the end of the film, Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr) put on his hat. He does that thing that men in movies do with a fedora, he picked it up and quickly spun it around and settled it on his head. I said "I always wanted to know how to do that." "What? The thing with the hat?" asked my son. "Here, throw me my hat." I took my son's fedora off the to of the coat rack and tossed it to him and, after a second or two, he flipped it.

We spent an hour practicing. We do stuff like that. My older son retreated to his room. Michael Jackson used to make that move with a fedora and last summer my son and a friend of his spent their morning train ride to work trying to figure out how to do it.

So I was thinking about that this morning as I put the hat back. How to do it. And then I decided to look for a hat when I go to the outlets tomorrow (that's the plan, anyway) because I haven't had a hat in quite some time. Baseball caps, yes. Hats, not so much.

I used to wear hats. I had a straw fedora with a dark brown ribbon band and a BIG black picture hat with a white ribbon band and an antique looking hatpin. I had a newsboy cap and a red felt hat. I LOVE hats, I always have. I got married in a hat. From the time I was a small girl I always wanted to get married in a hat. I had no use for veils, I wanted a hat, and I was prepared to change my choice of gown if we couldn't find a hat to go with it. I look good in hats. Although I can't wear a cloche, never could, my face is way too round.

And this was when I had an epiphany. We have no style anymore. There are a dozen older women and men scattered in New York City and Boston who have maintained their style. The rest of us? Not so much. I mean, LOOK at the people walking up and down the street, going into and out of buildings. Can you tell them apart? Tall, short, thin, fat. That's pretty much it. I too, have succumbed to this, and in the last few years, too. I used to have a thing for awesome shirts. I would rather have ONE awesome shirt than six tailored ones. I don't mean crossing the line sort of things. Just really pretty, unusual sorts of things.

See this shirt?

I OWN this shirt. Well, not THAT shirt. Mine has green hydrangeas. It's also bigger. I don't have a staircase and if I did it wouldn't be that neat and clean. But back to the shirt. I haven't worn it in two years, I'm not sure I even know where it is anymore. See, I've never really had any potential, at least that I lived up to, with one exception all I've ever done is work. The hubster, while he has a career, doesn't seem to have a long term job. We go through a LOT of unemployment, and frankly, I don't really make enough to make this a feasible way of life. The economy tanked, he lost another job and, after two periods of unemployment lasting over a year I discovered that our castle was build on sand. Quicksand. We lost the house, the cars, even the dog had to go. We were lucky, we were able to beg, borrow and steal enough to pay an inflated security deposit on a modest, old but sunny apartment and we kept the cat. I don't like the cat but it was something.

It was at this point I stopped wearing cool things like the occasional hat and awesome shirts and started dressing like Ma Kettle. Part of it was the length of time it took me to FIND my clothing, we moved quickly, and not too well. Then, since I no longer had a washer and dryer, I took the dry cleaning budget and moved it to the laundromat and started avoiding clothing that needed professional care. I don't know if it was the lack of self-esteem, the sudden shift to pasta from grilled chicken or something else but once I found my stuff, the buttons were sort of pulling. You know, across the boobs? Now, I see that all the time, is it some sort of style or something? Well, not for me, it's not.

I kind of wonder, if that's not why we're going to hell as a society though. I mean, let's face it, for some reason, when I downsized my environment I upsized my ass. Well, I'll be damned if I'm going to ditch all these shirts to upsize THEM! I like them. I KNOW I need to take off the same effing 50 pounds I've taken off before and I know how to do it, but I fall off the damn wagon too often. I see people every day who look as if they feel JUST like I do. We WANT to conform. Our sense of style consists of what color iPod earphones we use. If we fade into the crowd it doesn't matter where we live, or how much weight we've gained, or how grey our hair is getting or if we need new heels on our shoes.

So, I figure, we need to start small. Build ourselves up gradually, so the shock doesn't kill us. To this end, tomorrow, I am shopping for a hat. Not a hat with a baseball team logo and a bill, either. A real, honest to god hat. One that I can wear with a jacket and put on by rolling it up my arm and settling it on my head from the back. Besides, it's a LOT more satisfying to walk into a store and buy something in a size 7 1/2 than it is to slink into the "special sizes" section and root around for things in double digits with a "W" on the end.

And when I put said hat on I will draw attention to myself. And just what the hell is wrong with that? I figure, it's a circle. If I draw attention to myself I will become aware that people are looking at me and after they admire my guts in wearing a hat in public and make nasty cracks about my age (because only old people wear hats in public) they will then look at my thickening middle. This will then make ME aware of my middle and I will, if history teaches us anything, then DO something about it. And all of this because the hubster went out and my son and I watched a movie. Oh well. Big oaks come from small acorns, or something like that.

Anyway...the game's afoot.


  1. Love x 1 million.

    "What do I think about the way most people dress? Most people are not something one thinks about."
    - Diana Vreeland

  2. Friend from the PastOctober 9, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    You write so very well. You really should have a column somewhere. At the moment I'm thinking "Erma Bombeck", hope that feels like a compliment :-)

    And I think that the hat is a great idea. And will undoubtedly life the style quotient of the entire LA area, LOL.