I know it’s all the rage among conservatives and libertarian types these days to “Go Galt,” that is, to not work as much as you can since the more you work, the more the government takes from you in taxes and basic humanity. It’s too late for that: a couple years back, even before the election of the current president, I absented myself from the work force mostly as I became a consultant and, as time elapsed, more of a stay-at-home Dad than a consultant. So I’m not in the employment numbers anyway, and if I went Galt, our house would be two-boy-induced-rubble in a matter of hours.
But I wanted to go somewhere alliterative. If not Galt, where? I decided to Go Grant.
Being a child of the lower class, I’ve always been a jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers kind of guy. I briefly dabbled in the world of business casual in the workplace world at times, but when I got home, the first thing I did when I got home was to take them off and throw on the blue jeans and t-shirt. For some reason, I thought these things were more comfortable. Even in my days as an executive, I worked at an interactive ad agency, so I was the only one wearing a tie or, for that matter, pants. (That is to say, the other employees were mostly wearing shorts in the summer time.)
I recently had my last birthday in my 30s, and to celebrate the beginning of my 2/3rd life crisis, I decided to dress more like Cary Grant.
North by Northwest implanted the thought in my head. Cary Grant dodges planes and climbs down Mt. Rushmore in dressy shoes. Not in sneakers, not in hiking boots. Dress shoes. When he’s brought a change of clothes in the hospital, it’s a pair of slacks and a dressy shirt. Not blue jeans and a sweater. Cary Grant was a man. I looked at my manner of dress, and I was dressing like a boy.
I saw the film several years ago, and it’s always been in mind to dress better, but something about turning 39 made me do it. I went to the tailor and spent heavily on new clothes. Well, no, I went to Target and Walmart and bought a pair of Oxford shoes and some khaki pants that are not tan. I even invested in new black socks with patterns on them. How ostentatious. I spent at least $100, quite a sum for the product of the Siesta Manor Mobile Home Park. It’s probably close to my annual sneakers and Member’s Mark jeans budget.
I started wearing the clothes out of the house, and I started wearing them around the house. Several people have commented on my appearance, which probably does not mean that I look especially dapper but that I no longer look slovenly. And I get to wear my beloved black fedora again.
I’ve had a series of sharp hats since I got my first trench coat at age 21, and although I did not see anything wrong with a hat with a t-shirt or a sweatshirt when I was young, I recognized it was not the proper look for an adult. It resurged when I was an executive and had a brief appearances when I went to church, but now I can wear it out without thinking I look like a buffoon (although I still might; the key is not to think one looks like buffoon oneself).
People remember me more; that hat stands out. I’ve spent a number of days in a local Panera Bread, which is what they call the St. Louis Bread Company everywhere but St. Louis using the same logic apparently that drives Hollywood to release to American audiences anti-American films designed to please foreign anti-American audiences. I came and I went, but the second time I wore the hat into the shop, the guy behind the counter remembered my previous order and preference.
Sure. Southwest Missouri is not the place where natty clothes and a fedora are commonplace, but neither were Milwaukee or St. Louis. I still get the same strange looks, the amusement at the affectation, but screw ‘em, it’s my affectation. I look serious and proper, and just little like Cary Grant in my own mind.
Or at least I will for the couple of weeks that this phase takes to run its course.