Saturday, December 4, 2010

From the Smallest Seed Grows the Greatest Outfit…or There is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark (why I hate Skaagen)

All I am going to say now is that the Danes are a filthy, thieving lot. I am sure I will get to why later, but for now you just have to trust me. You know, the evil, vengeful zombies in The Fog were from the Elizabeth Dane. I don't think that is a coincidence.

I assume this is what their repair shop looks like.
As I have said before, I often find that my outfits spring out of some desire (need? compulsion?) to wear one particular item. It could be shoes that I need to break in (you better remember that far back), an ascot that I forgot I owned, a pocket square that I found under a bridge, or a watch that cost far too much to get repaired because some official US service center is staffed by incompetent ham-fisted gorillas who can't figure out how to open a pocket watch that their company made just to change the battery without ripping out the stem and crown and smashing it to pieces because they don't even understand that there is a release mechanism. More on that later. I expect that you are starting to suspect that I hold grudges... or at least you would if you knew that this all started about 2 years ago. The grudge thing comes from my mother's side of the family. No one can hold a grudge like a Leibowitz. Oh, and I will be naming names. After all, that is why I take them while bustin' heads.

What was I talking about? Egg nog? Oh yeah... my pocket watch. So I have this Skaagen pocket watch that Jeff bought me very early on in our relationship, and after the expense of having the damage inflicted upon it by the Viking scumbuckets repaired, I try to make it a point to wear it frequently.

It's a watch. It tells me the time, just like a cell phone or a DVR.
Obviously, you can't wear a pocket watch without a vest. Where are you going to put it? In your jeans? I guess you could, if there is room in your pockets next to your beets. A vest without a tie might lead the casual observer to think you are a hipster dufus, and we can't have that. The tie should match your hair, and your shirt should match your tie. Yada yada yada. Next thing you know, you have put on trousers. As for shoes, clearly, you will just have to use your imagination.

Now, I have always had a fixation with pocket watches and watches in general. Truth be told, I prefer a sturdy antique watch with a spring over a battery-powered, new-fangled contraption. That may sound curmudgeony, but if my aforementioned watch had to be wound, I would never have found myself in that whole pickle. I really love the feel of winding a watch, as well as the symbolism. After all, time is fleeting and at some point it will run out. Winding a watch makes me feel like I am renewing my lease on life and I have another day. With a battery you never know when it will die on you, and then you have to open your watch, see what kind it takes, and then find a place to buy a new one. Let me tell you, Radio Shack's battery prices go up and up. (Does anybody out there know if you could use your battery-of-the-month card for watch batteries? I don't think you can. I for one always opted for the 9 volt. It was the most expensive one, and it made me feel like I was getting something valuable. Not to mention that you could stick it on your tongue for a jumpstart. That was a thrill for a 6-year old!) Changing a battery is not that difficult (you hear that, Skaagen nincompoops?) but it does require having a tool or two with you. When you wind your watch in the morning, you also make sure that the time is correct. Who really checks the accuracy of their battery-powered watch in the morning? I am not going to address self-winding watches that were so big in the '60s and '70s, since nothing says lazy like needing your watch to do the work for you. (I confess, I do have a pair of self-winding watches... his and hers... from my aunt and uncle, and they are pretty cool with a hypnotic spiral center thing that I have spent hours staring into. I know that I spent hours because they are watches, after all.)

Hey buddy...c'mere

Pssssst. Wanna see some watches? Sure you do.

This is exactly how you should be picturing me at this point.

Remember when we all used to wear a bazillion watches on one arm? If not, you probably never owned a Swatch®.

Hmmm... even I can't see those.

That's better. Now the oldest watch here is one that I bought in high school...maybe in 1983. Can you guess which one? Felix, of course, and he is indeed a wind-up. I got him at Cheeks in Cape May from Carl (or Karl, I am not sure). He still works and I still love to wear him. Dick Tracy is also a wind-up and I got him for my college boyfriend in 1986 for Christmas. You may well ask how I wound up with this one if it was a gift for someone else. I pulled it out of the garbage where he tossed it after we broke up. I do have to acknowledge that I made sure it was not an amicable parting... I am nothing if not dramatic. The point is, I get why he decided to dump it, and even at the time I was not so secretly happy he did so I could get it back. Needless to say, I would never throw away an accessory regardless of any emotional baggage. To this day I like to wear it when I put on my old man hat, because truth be told, I look exactly like that gumshoe, always have, even when I was 16.

I acquired the remaining three watches much more recently, all via eBay. As you can see, I do have a thing for fish. I really dig the Charlie the Tuna watch, despite the fact that he keeps terrible time (he is just a fish). Apparently he is some sort of quantum mechanical Schrödinger's fish and is a real stickler for the Heisenberg uncertainly principle. He ticks away just fine until you look at him, at which point he stops dead. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish runs just fine, but came with a BROWN band because nothing is ever perfect off the rack. I could forgive that since One Fish Two Fish Red Fish do all swim around Blue Fish, and I am very easily entertained by things moving on my watch face. As a side note, obviously I replaced the band with a tasteful black one (a lady band, for my dainty lady wrist), but discovered that it is nearly impossible to find a shop that sells watchbands. Is it just de rigueur to throw away your watch when the band breaks? The mall says yes. Lastly, there's Zim.

I don't want to bore you too much with a catalogue, but too late! Let's see... ship goes around, plane flies around, blue Pekkle's fish swim around. Purple Pekkle is far too cheap to do more than stare at you (the hands don't even go around). Lock, Shock, and Barrel don't have to do anything, because you KNOW what they are thinking about doing, and you don't want any part of it.

Cappy from Skaagen
(Artist's conception)
Look at the time! Man, I certainly do go on and on, and I haven't even really said why I hate Skaagen customer service so much. Yes, they did destroy my watch when I sent it in to have the battery changed, but it doesn't end there. After quite the runaround on the phone, I was informed by a grown-up man who went by the name of "Cappy" with a voice like Pickles (of Dethklok, not of the delicious, crunchy kind) that the Skaagen "lifetime warranty" is limited, meaning that they only need to repair or replace your watch if they feel like it, regardless of whether or not they themselves smashed it to a million bits. (I assume that accent was some sort of old world relic.) After much arguing, he graciously agreed to refund the 6 dollars that I had prepaid for the new battery (which they did NOT actually send back with my butchered watch.) I believe he said something to the effect of, "Seex dolluurs won't break us, eh." The irony of his use of the word "break" was not lost on me. Ultimately, I took it to my watch guy (That's right! I have a watch guy! Doesn't everybody?) here on 9th Street who was horrified by my story, and promptly and skillfully repaired it, just leaving me out-of-pocket and out of patience. And that is why I hate the Danes. And then there is what happened to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, too.

Everybody loves Uncle Philly's hypnowatch.

Next time: Underpants: Why come we sew our names into them?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sometimes you just have to work from the ground up

If you have read my introductory entry, you may well have asked yourself, "when are we going to get to the fireworks factory?" Yes, I am very much aware that I have not addressed a single outfit of mine yet, and that has probably left you feeling cheated and ready to grab your flaming torch and pitchfork. Well, the joke is on you, I live in a secure building, so just try to get by the front desk. I know I am not fooling anyone... the front door doesn't even lock at the moment. I am relying on you having better things to do. But time to cut the dilly-daliance.

I often find myself wanting (or in this case, needing) to wear one particular item, and that informs my entire outfit, including socks and bloomers (except when the socks and/or bloomers ARE the one thing I feel I must wear that day.) You should always try to guess the one piece that was the seed for my look, and then try to guess the rationale. That is to say, if you really want to probe the crazy that is me.

As most people who live in NYC (at least those who would be reading this) know, Trash & Vaudeville has  the best shoe selection in the city, and their sale rack is none too shabby. In fact, if you are a cheap Jew like me you are actually incapable of paying full price for anything and so must always shop in the clearance racks. I could certainly not afford that vast Imelda Marcos-like (you know who that is right?) footwear collection if I were to pay retail. (Take a breath here... get a glass of water... Blogger just lost everything from here on, so I need to rethink it.)

Ok. Where was I? What was I going on about? Oh yeah... sale shoes at Trash! So there I was, and lo and behold, there was not one, but TWO pairs of shoes that called to me AND were in my size (US 9, meaning my feet are common peasant feet, and everyone wants my size.) so it was like Jesus had come down and demanded that I buy those shoes. Obviously, I did so without question because I am a man of faith, and faith requires that I accept without question. (Helpful hint: always buy shoes in pairs from the Trash sale rack... not just a pair of shoes, mind you, but 2 pair... the second pair is half-price.)

So here I am with some F.A.B. new shoes that I need to break in.

Look! They are both red and snakeskin! How could I go wrong?
Of course, having picked shoes, social convention says I need pants before I can go outside. I also believe that one should put on pants before going out to the market or the post office. Call me old-fashioned. Pants are really just a gateway garment to shirts, which invariably leads to ties, and then before you know it, you are breaking into your neighbor's house, stealing their Precious Moments figurines to pawn so you can afford a vest.

So this is what happened, all so I could break in my new shoes:

Red shoes does force you into that whole red paradigm, and a snakeskin pattern does set some limits. This does bring up a very good point that you can mix a wide variety of patterns (contrary to what someone's mother said) as long as you maintain a cohesive color family. Alternatively, you can combine a huge assortment of colors if you stick to one pattern. Get it? Some common thread to bind it all together. See what I did there? Talking about clothes and used a tread metaphor. I am both hot and informative.

Hot, figuratively speaking. Truth be told I got a bit cold:

Sometimes you have to add a jacket.

Man, I look glum. But as you can see (read, whatever) sometimes I can just write a straightforward description of what I am wearing. The question I have is now that I am documenting my outfits will you judge me for wearing the same thing twice? 

Coming soon: underpants and why come they have to match our socks?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ok. Now that I have had my coffee...

Sometimes it takes that bit of a jumpstart. I certainly can't have a Jolt since they took that off the market. I believe it had something to do with all those blind college students. Is Tab still around? How about Tab Clear? Or was it Crystal Tab? That couldn't have been good for you, but nothing beats ordering a Rum and Tab in a bar (ideally a Rum and Tab Clear). I guess if you could still get that, it would be the drink of choice of "The Real Housewives of" wherever. Does anybody watch that show? I won't judge, I just want to know if they drink that. By the way, I WILL judge. Apparently, I just can't help myself.

But I digress. Any of you who know me, know that I ALWAYS digress. I won't apologize because to do so would be disingenuous. You should only apologize for things that you are really sorry for, and if you are really sorry, you shouldn't keep doing them. As you can see, I digressed again, so clearly, I am not that sorry.

Also, those who know me will vouch for the aforementioned judgyness. I believe the tangents have enough intrinsic charm to offset the overbearing judgmental nature of whatever point I am making somewhere amongst the ramblings. I personally don't see myself as judgmental at all; I just have taste and the need to express that taste. Spew taste? Ooze taste? Better than oozing pus, but not as good as oozing sexuality.

Another thing about me, I HATE to read what I have written, so I just don't: First Draft = Final Product. If I don't catch an error right away, I will never see it. Not ever. Sometimes those close to me will insist on fixing things, and I let them because by then I have lost interest. The point is, don't expect me to ever read my own blog. Only a loser would read this tripe. (I love tripe, by the way, and miss the tripe soup at old Leshkos at 7th and A. You know, it was about $1.25 for a nice-sized cup.)

I also do know English grammar and the correct use of a comma (I do prefer to use serial commas), but I also enjoy taking liberties to season my prose.

Now that I have given you the basics, my gentle reader (I assume you are gentle. Perhaps you enjoy stepping on kittens. How the hell am I supposed to know that? Do I look like Kreskin?) I will give you a little background on my clothing philosophy.

We live in a society where we are figuratively "up to our elbows" in other people. Here in New York the people are thick as flies, so they are everywhere you turn. You can't leave your home without seeing people, and, unless you are conveniently blind (I am not worried about offending the blind, since this is not a blog-on-tape. If you are reading this to a blind person as part of your community service, please skip over this whole part.) you have to look at them constantly. You can try looking down all the time, but then you are bound to start bumping into them and that is just plain rude. Wouldn't you prefer that all the people you have to see all day long were attractive? Nature provides a heap of variation when it comes to appearance, so not everyone can be pretty. We all know it's true, even though we know we shouldn't say it. You know your neighborhood sure has a lot of ugly people in it. The one thing people can do to counter any shortfall that their genetics may have dealt them is to make an effort to be well-groomed and well-dressed. We can't control our genes, and most of us can't afford surgery (and most plastic surgery gives you tranny-face, which is its own kind of unattractive. You know who you are and what you have opted to do to yourself. And you know damn well what tranny-face is, and that a: not all trannies have it, and b: plenty of real women get enough surgery to have it.) (Should I point out here that I also love parentheticals to excess, so you better stay sharp and focused when you are reading or you will be hopelessly left behind? You get that by now, right? Do you remember the sentence that is still going on? Perhaps you should look back now to refresh yourself.) but we can control how we dress and present ourselves to the rest of the world. I expect everyone to at least TRY so my day is just that much more pleasant. I therefore feel that I must do my best to make myself as aesthetically pleasing as possible to others. It's only fair. Wearing sweatpants and flip-flops says, "I've given up." If you have given up, the just own it and stay home.
If you look like this, I don't want to know about it. 

Does that cover everything? Probably not, but I am getting bored writing, so you must be getting bored reading it. 

On a final note: if you are having trouble following my convoluted style, I recommend using a highlighter on your monitor. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Now I'm all yours!

This is really just to tease you and let you know that the cavalcade of whimsy is about to begin. Wear your seatbelt (but only if it matches your tie!)