Thursday, July 15, 2010

Socks and Sandals

The family and I attended the Tour de Fat (New Belgium’s beer and bike festival) in Loring Park last weekend. Costumes were encouraged. I decided to wear a kilt and tie-dye shirt along with some knee high argyle socks and Chaco sandals. The idea was to be outlandish. A female acquaintance saw fit to comment that I’d taken it so far as to pair socks with sandals. I thought nothing of the comment. The day was rather warm and the combination was functional – I could easily remove the socks and air out my feet if needed.

A couple of days ago I saw a headline on Yahoo entitled "Men’s 10 Biggest Fashion Mistakes." Yep, at the top of the list (#1 in fact) was wearing socks with sandals. I don’t do this much anymore but I used to all the time when I lived in TN and sandals were my default year-round attire. What's the big deal? Must function and fashion completely diverge?

A few years ago I learned the hard way at a pre-wedding party that knickers aren’t acceptable menswear. The mood was casual and plenty of others were in shorts and t-shirts. However, when I tried to convince a female acquaintance that knickers were gaining popularity in some circles, she wasn't having it. I guess they look dangerously like capris and even if you’re a cyclist who has decided knickers are perhaps the most functional garment ever adapted for pedaling, you’re still committing fashion murder. (Or maybe it’s gender murder, more aptly, in most people's eyes.) Geez, hang-ups.

Some guys don’t have this hang-up, I've since learned. A few weeks ago I stopped to get some beer on the ride home from work. The guy behind the counter asked: “Where’d you get those capris? I’ve been looking for a pair for riding.” I prefer to call them knickers, but you call yourself out if you like.

Over the Independence Day weekend we took the family north to visit some friends and get in a little time with canoe and paddle. It worked out that we could go to Grand Marais on the 4th to have dinner and walk around. The town was packed. I hadn’t changed out of my Utilikilt for most of the weekend since it’s a damned fine summer garment, not to mention the other two temperate seasons in MN. Again, I thought nothing of it -- what's wrong with wearing clothes that make sense? Most of the visitors of Grand Marais were apparently perplexed. It's been a long time since I’ve had so many stares – many to the point of rudeness (e.g. people sitting in their cars to watch the imminent fireworks, the front seat pair staring at me and muttering back and forth as we walked by). You’d think I was carrying a severed baby corpse with blood smeared on my face. I take it for granted how liberal most city dwellers can seem in contrast.

Last weekend we also popped by the Farmer’s Market to get some grillables. I’m a bag person. I have a pack or bag for almost any purpose including a Duluth Pack Haversack that is the perfect size for an every day tote. It’s a man-bag. Some might call it a murse, aka man-purse. I call it practical -- a faithful companion on many a trip long or short -- for a variety of excursions over the 8 years I've owned it. I carry it everywhere.

We stumbled across a booth hosted by a few folks calling themselves Man Cave. I’d have kept walking except they had the nicest stainless chicken-roasting grill pan I’d ever seen. I looked it over and in the course read some of their marketing materials. They are very much a "man’s man" kind of group (whatever that means ... it always includes football in America which I couldn't care less about). A sticker they displayed read, “A man purse is still a purse.” It turns out that’s their final Man Law.

I guess I can’t join "the Cave" or attend "a MEATing" if I choose to carry my bag. Bummer, since I rather agree with Man Laws #1 & 2: “1)No man shall ever turn down free beer... for any reason. Never. Ever. Seriously, Never. AND 2)Grilling, regardless of weather, is always the first choice for cooking.” Both activities at which I think I've achieved mastery level, despite the impediment of my purse.

I never knew I was a Fashion Felon or less than a "manly" man. I guess I’ve been kidding myself all these years.

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