A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
There’s a slippery slope that happens in this life, and it doesn’t end unless you find yourself chasing the garbage man down the alley in nothing but your Buzz Lightyear boxers and a beltless bathrobe. You might do this ‘cause it’s important; that trash is going to smell like dead hobbits the day after tomorrow. And you may even rationalize it by saying, “That trash is going to smell like dead hobbits the day after tomorrow.” But, you still know you’ve just stepped through the looking glass. What was once an intimate detail, known only to your mother and a few significant others, is now available to the general viewing public. More importantly, you hope none of your neighbours caught your Batman imitation on their cell phones.
We don’t all end up on Pinterest as “Meanwhile at WalMart” memes — but we could. There’s a charming little voice in everybody’s inner adult that whispers “What the hell? It’s only the Drive-thru. This shirt’s good enough.” So we grab the keys instead of listening to our inner child, who would scold us into, at the very least, changing our underwear. (I was nearly 10 before I realized clean underwear didn’t actually prevent traffic accidents.) It’s that same voice that urges us to wear pink with plaid and refuses to part with the UCLA T-shirt that was printed when Zorro was a boy. We all have it. Our parents warned us about it, but all of us still listen. Bad mistake!
Back in the day, mostly mom (and sometimes dad) taught us that going out in public was a sacred trust. People were looking at us, and we needed to show some respect. Neat was important, but clean was essential. As we got older, that sage bit of advice translated into sex, straight up and down. You need to look your best because nobody is going to sleep with a slob. Unfortunately, adulthood and cohabitation dulls the echoes of our parents, and more and more we end up relying on our own resources.
At first, it’s okay. We dress for work, go out with our friends, flirt with the cashiers at the grocery store and leave our private face at home where it belongs. However, eventually, those sweatpants are just too damn comfy not to get trotted out to mow the lawn. But that’s okay too: we’re in our own yard, they’re clean, and they still kinda fit in the crotch. Besides, they cover up that extra 10 lbs that’s been hanging around all summer. Oops! This is where it gets problematical.
As we get older, we tend to spread in all directions. Clothes just aren’t as friendly as they were back when we were twenty. And this is when our inner adult comes calling. “Hey, buddy! You’re a grown man. You pay taxes. You have a mortgage and a Mercedes. You haven’t eaten liver or lima beans in 12 years! If you want to wear socks with sandals, screw the hippie who says you can’t!” And we listen. But the socks with sandals (or your personal equivalent) are just the thin edge of the wedge. Pretty soon, it’s only work, weddings and funerals that get a tie. Family functions are all informal, and those sweatpants that kinda fit – question mark — have migrated from the back yard to the shopping mall. It’s unavoidable.
The thing to remember, if you don’t want to end up dressing like Robin Williams in The Fisher King, is that your inner adult is a spoiled brat. He thinks that whatever he says goes, and he pouts if he doesn’t get his own way. You’re far better off to listen to your common-sense child, who’s very aware of what not to wear. The parents explained it to him.
My point is that, as we get older, we all dress for comfort, not for speed, but you don’t get any points for running amok. Therefore, it’s best to cool your jets or you’ll end up as the Flying Dutchman of the Internet, repinned and reposted as The Old Man in the Leopard-skin Leotard.