Deep into the night, long after I’d accomplished everything I was going to for the day, which was not a lot to begin with, I took to trying on some old work clothes from my closet in preparation for my new job on Monday.
Trying on clothes is an occasional late-night habit for me, the only time when it seems to actually matter. In the morning of a regular work routine schedule, I leave my apartment bleary-eyed and half-caffeinated, my shirt tail, somewhat ironed, tucked by force into my pants. By the afternoon, everything is wrinkled and crooked and generally disheveled anyway, but that doesn’t really matter – my presence has already long ago been made, my appearance has already been judged and probably discussed by strange anonymous office people.
But at night, when your mind tends to drift to such lofty thoughts as what the hell you’re doing with your life, everything must fit right. A failure to reach this goal is a reflection of your current life status and does not bode well in answering the above question. A truly successful and happy man, it must be, either has immaculately tailored clothes that fit perfectly or is in good enough shape that things just seem to fit him better. Or, alternatively, he is simply care-free enough to not really give a shit.
To be in contradiction of all three of these criteria – to have neither the clothes nor the body to make a good fit, and to be concerned enough about it that it bothers you, means, by the definition of this argument, that you are a sad out-of-shape loser who has accomplished little to nothing in his life.
Now, you might say, But I have accomplished things. No. If you had accomplished anything of value, your clothes would fit better.
I’ve tried, of course, most things I can think of to remedy this problem. I’ve tried smaller, more fitted shirts that seem okay until you realize they’re too short and their shirt-tails will come untucked at the slightest sign of poor posture or sudden movement. I’ve tried shirts with longer shirt-tails that tuck in halfway down to your knees but that bunch up like Saran wrap at the belt, and – very importantly – require considerable re-tucking time in the office washroom. You don’t wanna be that guy who gets caught examining his tucking job in the mirror and then has to pretend he was just on his way out.
I’ve tried pants that are tighter at the waist or looser at the hip, that rise halfway up my legs when I sit or sag to the ground when I walk, that are twice the width of my actual legs or slim enough to make my feet look like Daffy Duck. I won’t lie – I’ve worn pants that have given me the sensational, unsatisfiable urge to adjust.
And shoes – well, let’s just say I’ve done the whole laces thing and the whole no-laces thing, and each of them, like summer and winter, just makes you long for the other.
And so, I guess, this is what it’s come to: 24 years old and still searching for that perfect shirt, the one that’s simultaneously well-fitted but adds the appearance of, oh, say 20 pounds of upper-body muscle. Those perfect pants, the ones that brush the sides of my legs but still allow ample breathing room. And that tuck – oh, that perfect tuck, the one that tells you that this shirt and these pants were meant to be together, and you have finally had the honour of introducing them.
When will I find these things? Will they call my name one day, by chance, as I wander the aisles of some lonely department store? Or will it be all up to me – will I have to search high and low, one piece at a time, and one day, having triumphantly put it all together, sit back like God and admire?
Tonight, as I stand staring at myself in my washroom mirror, I can’t help but wonder two things: Firstly, how is it that I always end up with specks of toothpaste on the mirror, no matter how far back I stand when I brush? And secondly, with a shirt collar that just won’t stay down and a head that just won’t stay on straight, I wonder, when oh when will things just fucking fit?
Think about it.
You have eight seconds of consciousness after your head is cut off at the guillotine and held up for the crowd to see. What do you do? What do you think?
Do I think of all those people I let down in my life, all those girls in high school I never quite had the guts to talk to, all the great things I would’ve done if I had the chance? Maybe, but let’s be honest, let’s face it – most of us, even with a second chance, wouldn’t actually do those things anyway. We’d think, Phew, that was close, and then go back to our normal city routines, plus maybe a little therapy on the side.
So, realistically, I’d probably think, Fuck, if I knew this was happening today, I definitely woulda gone for that haircut. I mean, if I’m gonna be held up, finally, in front of all these people, I’d like to at least look my best, you know? And then I’d glance from side to side to see if there was anyone I knew in the crowd, and, just as I raised my eyebrows in acknowledgement at someone, they’d drop my scruffy head to the ground.
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The thing about dinner dates that I really hate is the eating part. Up until then, everything goes smoothly – you walk there together, you discuss your life plans, you compare menu choices. It’s once the food actually arrives that the trouble starts: conversation is marred and stilted by the inconvenience of chewing; eye contact suddenly becomes awkward – you don’t want to watch the other person eating, but you don’t want to look away either.
Then there are those really strange, cryptic looks you get from the other side of the table that make you wonder if this girl thinks you’re a freak or if you just have some sauce on your chin. So, hoping for the latter, you self-consciously dab your chin with your napkin and observe the results, like checking for blood on a shaving cut.
Really, I’d love nothing more than going out to a restaurant, ordering our meals, waiting for half an hour, and then having the chef come out and say, “Sorry folks, we’ve just run out of food.” I’d drop him a big tip to help ease his distress and leave thinking things went really well.