“You’re the kind of girl who likes to open a bottle of pop too early in the journey” Billy Bragg, “A Lover Sings”
My friend Liz RT a post from a former, older male friend of mine: I could never be the cool dad. Unless tween girls think surliness & drinking & discolored sweatpants with weak elastic are cool. Do they?
I’m not going to go into all the moderately-scandalous details of our friendship (ask me about it at a party sometime) only that at one point he may or may not have referred to me as “his secret girlfriend.” * But it was my early 20’s, and I was young and eager for affection, and he later broke my heart via a mix CD with Billy Bragg’s “A Lover Sings” (who does that?!?) and quit speaking to me until years later, when we got back in touch, had a too-long and awkward lunch and never spoke again.
But seeing this tweet made me very, very sad. He was never quite a fashion plate, although I do confess that I would swoon whenever he wore his yellow button-down and dark blue jeans, and he did have this cute blue scarf he wore clumsily looped around his unshaven neck. He was a proto-hipster, a mix CD making, pulp reading, Chandler quoting genius. And now, apparently, he just hangs around drinking gin and wearing gross sweatpants. But he was always surly. Glad to see some bad habits never die hard.
Arlene and HGB and Dorothy put so much pressure on US, ladies, to stay fit and trim and cordial and pretty. And there was no one on earth I tried to be as pretty for as him. I would have DIED before showing up for one of our coffee dates in jeans and a tee-shirt. Once, I wore cute go-go boots for him and he told me I looked like a streetwalker. See what I mean about surliness?
But if a man isn’t going to put pride in his appearance, why should the woman he’s trying to woo put any into hers? And then haven’t we all just given up? Because it’s not about the clothes–it’s about the effort. It’s about saying “I respect and care for you enough to put in some time” the same way we put time into our appearance when we go to work. Looking good is not a crime.
And there is a time for sweatpants, a time for pajamas, a time for baggy jeans and a time for too-big tee-shirts. But it’s as if he’s given up. It’s as if he’s given in. The man who used to share his Junior Mints with me at Clive Owen movies and sat so close to me during Rififi that our knees were touching is no more, just one more sarcastic, bitter, middle-aged man loafing around while life goes by. And those, darlings, are a dime a dozen and not worth a tenth of that.
Maybe that’s not the case, I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, attaching value and meaning that isn’t there. But what I do know is that the man I knew, the man who gave me vintage crime paperbacks and taught me to love French Roast coffee wouldn’t be caught dead slumming like that.
*Answer: He totally did.