Time for a Change!

Time for a Change!

By Patrick F. Cannon

I just turned 85, but you’d be hard pressed to see much difference in the way I present myself to the world than I did 40 or even 50 years ago. Whiter hair, but combed the same. Khakis; button-down sport shirts; no beard; leather shoes; no tattoos; and no rings in my ears, nose or eyebrows. My one remaining suit is navy blue; and my blazer is same color, the latest in a series of perhaps a dozen I’ve owned since 1965.

            The other day, I saw an older man, perhaps only in his 70s, who sported long hair dyed blue; tattooed arms; and a get up that reminded me of the Beach Boys in their prime. What Ho! I thought. Maybe it’s time for a change. That old geezer got noticed, while nobody ever gives me a second – or maybe even a first – look. How then might I transform myself?

            I decided I would dye my hair based on the nearest holiday, e.g., green for St. Patrick’s Day, red for Valentine’s Day; red, white and blue for the 4th of July; orange for Thanksgiving – well, you get the idea.

            I’m on record as being tattoo skeptical. But is this just an old fogies prejudice against the fashion of the day? But, I asked myself, what kind of “body art” would suit a sophisticated chap like myself? As my mother has been dead for 67 years, that old standby didn’t seem appropriate; nor did an anchor, since I had never served in the Navy. But then I remembered seeing a young fellow with a tat based on a painting by the Dutchman Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). You may recall that Piet was really the first painter to explore truly abstract forms.

            Of course, that’s been done, so I didn’t want to be a copycat. Since I’ve been giving tours of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings for many years, why not have a tattoo highlighting one of his famous art-glass window designs? Perhaps his most famous is the “Tree of Life” at the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. Any body artist worth his or her salt should be able to adapt it for one of my arms.

As a former English major – a dwindling tribe – on my other arm I would favor the famous opening lines from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms – “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed or the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels.”  That should fit nicely on my other arm, perhaps embellished with a few of those pebbles and boulders. Because my manly torso isn’t what it once was, I think I’ll forego having Old Ironsides at full sail on my back.

As to wardrobe, I believe my new tattoos will demand sleeveless shirts. Saks Fifth Avenue has a nice selection, as well as baggy pants to match. They can also outfit me with the ill-fitting suits that are all the rage. The beauty of these de rigueur duds is that you don’t have to wear a shirt; some suits even come with sleeveless jackets! The pants legs are becomingly short. Socks are optional, so the oversize brogues gain the prominence they deserve. Based on Saks’ web site, I’m sure I can outfit myself for less than $10,000!

Before taking the plunge, I checked my closet one last time to determine the extent of my donation to Goodwill. I counted 15 sports and three dress shirts, and eight pairs of wash pants, as well as the one suit, three sports jackets and matching trousers. As I reached for the first shirt, tears, unbidden, suddenly cascaded down my cheeks. What was I doing? Abandoning my signature look for mere fashion? Thank God I came to my senses in time!

Copyright 2023, Patrick F. Cannon

9 thoughts on “Time for a Change!

  1. Clothes make the man, they say. The shabby attire of Sam Bankman-Fried reflects a self-indulgent swindler who cares little about what people think of him. Mark Zuckerberg can’t but dress like the nerdy college sophomore that he is and ever will be. Donald Trump’s yard-long neckties poorly conceal a personal inadequacy. The same principle applies to women. Dr Jill Biden’s upholstery outfits worn with athletic shoes are a cry for help.

    These days, men seeking attention seem to gravitate to cross-dressing: panty hose, heavy makeup , earrings, high heels and a wig style from the 1960s. It’s a look that has become especially popular if cliched in the Biden administration, and seems wildly welcomed at story time in kindergartens and public libraries. Attention-getting it may be, but one can only play-act for so long.

    With the sartorial freak show that parades before us daily, it’s a tall challenge to come up with a look one can call one’s own. So the best you can do is wear what you like and stick with it, as you commendably have done. Plain speaking in the clothes one puts on can be the best way to honorably distinguish oneself, as the folks at Brooks Brothers and L.L.Bean have long known.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brooks Bros, Hickey Freeman and other purveyors of tailored clothing hang on. Indy has a Brooks but the store is usually empty. HF soldiers on with prices risky for the faint hearted. To think I used to own one of their suits!

    Liked by 1 person

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