Heavy starch that is…or why waste the money? All of the twaddle about starch destroying your shirts is…is…true. But do it anyway. The crisp fortification is worth the slow-growing attenuation of your cotton fibrations.
They don’t decay overnight and that’s my main defense for starching them up nicely. Plus the fact that you’ll actually look rather well put together…something that’s sure, in this day and age, to set you apart from the get-go. And have them folded if you travel.
And yes; part of my affinity for heavy starch probably goes back to college. OCBDs slathered in Argo and professionally pressed to assure that one felt like they were armoured when shrouded in crispy cotton. Then covered with things like Munsingwear v-neck sweaters. And the khakis are starched as heavily as the shirt...khakis for three dollars from a Fayetteville, N.C. army surplus joint. We'd ride up there and buy fifty pairs at a go and then head over to Hay Skreet. The Faye...home of Fort Bragg and at about this same time, billeting my cousin Tintin. Shut up. I’m tired this morning.
This shirt is twenty five years old. Starch will ultimately claim it…but when? W.G.A.S.
And this one’s a baby. Only twenty years old.
Twenty year old uberstarched shirt to accompany the twenty year old Flusser nail-head suit. And for my sturdy-girl readers…I know, I know…it isn’t fair. Not fair that men can have togs in their lineup that endure for so long. I’ve always said that there’s a predatory component to women’s fashion and retail. I feel your pain…your frustration. Now come sit in my lap and palpate mine.
Clean crisp shirt linen isn’t necessarily a contemporary thing. Contemporary? Who am I kidding? There’s nothing contemporary about my orientation to anything. But caricaturist Carlo Pellegrini, “Ape” of Vanity Fair fame, was obsessed with finery and luxury…an example of such affinity being his starched white shirts.
He was even known for using the cuff of his starched shirts, in an impromptu moment, as a sketch pad to capture the mug of someone in-the-moment when he saw an expression that he knew was robust fodder for caricature. Of course he would use anything else within reach as well, including a restaurant check, like the one above.
Pellegrini was a pet of Society…a sort of endearingly pidgin-english speaking, Medici lineaged, Italian Truman Capote. And once he captured your visage in study for a subsequently full-flourished caricature, he’d shout mid-dinner party… "Now I gote you!” The note above, penned to the English actor and theatre manager Squire Bancroft, reflects Pellegrini’s playful misuse of language…a rather pidgin-esque go at wordplay methinks. Who else does that?
Bancroft, in his memoir Empty Chairs, captured the essence of a dying Pellegrini and the importance of his starched shirts…."I saw the "Pelican" as Pellegrini was called by his friends...in his last illness in his rooms in Mortimer Street. Shortly before the peaceful end he said pathetically to his faithful servant: "Wil-li-am, put me on clean shirt...I die clean." "
And I need starch when I’m teaching and conducting competitive strategy simulations. My clients test the hell out of my credibility and rightfully so, during every moment I’m in front of them. I don’t know what it is about the discipline of strategy that makes people so damned edgy. Perhaps it’s all the MBA and consultant esoterica that’s tarted up the discipline and has made people uncomfortable with it. All I know is that when I’m shepherding their journey for eight hours a day…usually two or three days in a row, I am as “on” as possible and I then crash spectacularly for a few days.
Onward. Crashed. In my own bed. Till Sunday.
ADG, II Starched.
Oh…and p.s. …It’s St. Patrick’s Day right? You know, the day to wear green and avoid the rookie drinkers. If you can’t wear green today then eat green. Maybe some green peas, as suggested by little caricaturist LFG in her drawing that adorns my kitchen.