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Eddie Adelman of Belfast is a writer.
Rumor has it that clothes make the man. For some reason, I never got that memo. I must have been out of the office that day.
For as long as I can remember, I always saw clothing, at best, as a requirement to stay warm, and at worst, a necessary evil.
A fashion statement to me is wearing the first shirt that I pull out of the dryer. Green. Red. Blue. As long as it’s dry, I’m good to go.
My clothing aversion dates all the way back to my childhood. As a kid, I had skin allergies to certain materials — wool being the Darth Vader.
At my bar mitzvah, I actually wore long johns underneath the suit, so I wouldn’t scratch and squirm for three hours as I pondered life’s great questions. Is there really a God? And if so, is he responsible for acne?
Throughout high school, clothing was a really big deal. Fashionista classmates ruled with an iron fist. The punishment for wearing a hand-me-down from an older sibling was swift and brutal — sitting by yourself at lunch. Oh, the horror.
But then the crazy ‘60s kicked in and came to my rescue. Clothing was no longer a measure of your worth. And for some, (including girls) the act of donning clothing at all became optional. For a curious, coming-of-age boy like myself, it was the answer to my prayers.
But all good things must come to an end.
By the mid-’70s, order was restored. Fashion designers were once again calling the shots. But at what cost? Remember leisure suits, wide collars, mullets and gold chains? I try not to. When the evolution of Homo sapiens is finally recorded, the ‘70s probably won’t make the highlight reels.
Now, this could get me into trouble, but perhaps my Y chromosome has something to do with my aversion to clothes.
Back in the ‘80s I was living with my girlfriend and we decided to take a trip to Jamaica for a winter vacation. So there we were in the bedroom, packing. My suitcase on one side of the bed. Her suitcase on the other.
I did my usual routine of randomly throwing shirts, shorts and socks into the suitcase. At one point my girlfriend looked over and asked me what I was doing. The conversation went something like this:
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m packing.”
“You mean, you don’t do outfits?’
And that’s when the light bulb went on. I finally realized that men and women really are from different planets.
My number one concern while packing was finding clothes that weren’t torn. How they matched up wasn’t even in my top 10.
Not so with my girlfriend. That being said, “Vive la difference.”
By the way, it was a smashing vacation. Although, I’m sure that other tourists looked at us and thought, “Just look at his clothes. What’s she doing with him? She could do so much better.”
For most of my working life, I chose a vocation that made no clothing demands on me. For 24 years, I owned a record shop in Portland and dressed as I pleased.
Even better? The store didn’t open until 10. I could sleep as late as I wanted. Slob and sloth? Somebody pinch me.
And as you might guess, I hate (hate, I tell ya!) shopping for clothes. If I find a shirt that I like, I just buy five of them in different colors, before heading off to the food court to reward myself for being so brave.
Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, I do own one tie and one sport jacket for weddings, funerals, and, yes, bar mitzvahs. But when I put them on, I look more like a defendant in a criminal trial who was just told to put on a coat and tie.
But, thankfully, no long johns.