Delving once again into the dust-ladened archives of my early years as a “columnist.”
February 17, 1989
Have you ever wondered whether they sell Plymouths on the planet Mercury? Have you ever wondered why Tuesday comes before Wednesday? Have wondered why you don’t have eyes in the back of your head? Have you ever wondered why you’re wasting your time reading this? These questions, and Andy Rooney, will not be answered here. Nevertheless, do not despair, because . . .
Did you know if you stand on your head, everything appears to be upside down? Did you know I was once in a liquor store where the only other customer was Chief Justice Warren Burger? Did you know that “onomatopoeia” spelled backwards means absolutely nothing? Did you know I was once in a clothing store where the only other customer was Vernon Jordan? Did you know I was once on an airplane with Judy Collins and Chuck Berry? Did you know I was once at a movie starring Meryl Streep? Now this is starting to look like a gossip column – but then again you can start your own column and drop your own names.
It’s difficult to establish a format for these kinds of endeavors, and I thank those who have offered encouragement. In reply to their inquiries in this regard, I tender the following responses, in descending order: 1) yes; 2) cute Bimmer; 3) e; 4) I think it’s natural; 5) all of the above; 6) 2 and 3; 7) remove the bay leaf before serving; 8) jams, Jell-o, and ‘jammies; 9) Maria Ouspenskaya, and sometimes Pola Negri; 10) apply equal pressure with both thumbs; 11) 6’0”, blond-eyed and blue-haired, and kind to my mother; and 12) occasionally, when they’re feeling spunky!
Finally, a trek down memory lane to revisit such classics as “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Dudley Do-Right,” “George of the Jungle,” “Superchicken,” and ultimately, in this instance, the Shaggy Dog joke. These can still be effective groundbreakers if your audience is a pod of 8-year olds and the discussion is bathroom habits. As George Carlin said, “ . . . you remember these, I’m just here to remind you that they’re funny.” Soooo . . . is it further to Chicago than by bus? Do you walk to work or carry your lunch? What’s the difference between an orange? And for your dining and dancing pleasure, if it rains on Sunday and the ducks fly south, how many shingles are on the dog’s house?
Some time later . . .
When last we left you, Batman was dangling from a precipice, Humpty Dumpty was happily discovering the wonders of Super Glue, Julia Child was struggling mightily with a falling soufflé, and the United States Congress was threatening to vote on a substantive issue. It naturally follows, therefore, that I am here today to discuss fashion.
Admittedly, there have been occasions (feeding frenzies come to mind) when my tie has acted to prevent unsightly soilage of my shirt. This, ostensibly, has been the historic reason for wearing them – ties, that is (shirts are worn because the Brooks Brothers needed a vocation to fall back on after they failed miserably in the fast food for parakeets industry). But in this day and age, does it make sense to protect a $30 wash-and-wear shirt with a $30 silk, dry clean only, tie? Of course not! So why does it happen? One word – super models (OK, that’s two words). But obviously, it’s the laws of physics – specifically, inertia (do you think the H&R Blocks of the world are ever going to be put out of business by tax code simplification?). [I’m sorry, you may have to look up “inertia” because science has fallen into disfavor since this was first written.] “Suit and tie,” as inseparable as “sex and violence” and “Sacco and Vanzetti,” is a major league industry – Alexander Julian almost singlehandedly made Charlotte, North Carolina, a cosmopolitan city. So all you Trekkie (is that right?) fans out there who thought, just like me, fashion would trend toward the comfy leotard look of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock as we approached the 21st century – forget it! Kirk and Spock don’t stand a chance. Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren have their phasers set on drain and aimed at your wallet in the realization there is big money to be made in multi-piece suits with accessories, a/k/a TIES. Therefore, unless OSHA decides (and don’t hold your breath) that ties are a work place hazard (one could be strangled if it got caught and spun in a Rolodex), the silly things are here to stay for a while.
Continuing with inanity, are high heels even sillier than ties? Everybody on three – 1, 2, 3 – YES. As silly as ties are, they do not create physical abnormalities, dysfunctions, and/or the need for orthopedic surgery (the previously discussed Roldex situation notwithstanding). Notwithstanding – now there’s an interesting word – how many others can you think of that are three individual words linked together? But I digress . . . While ties were probably designed (invented?) by some nondescript (almost three words) fellow named Tom, we all know, if not willing to acknowledge, that high heels were designed by the Marquis de Sade. I guess what most boggles my mind (well, that would most everything) is that someone actually thought it would be a wonderful idea if women walked around in some shoe-like device with their heels way up in the air and theirs toes all squished way down into a little pointy toe. Sometimes it hurts just to watch. Now far be it from me to contest the fashion aspects of all this – it worked, didn’t it? Women wear high heels and they wouldn’t if it wasn’t fashionable. I think it has something to do with the way high heels set off the calf – but now I’m venturing into a dangerous analytical area (although I was once advised such by a high heel wearing close personal acquaintance). Nevertheless (three words!), women are fighting back – wearing their jogging shoes for any walking distances in excess of two steps. Bravo! Now if only men had the courage of your new convictions when it comes to ties!
Up next: Can’t any worse than what’s above?