I think one of the things that draws me to madras—other than the obvious fact that there’s no better foundation—no better pulpit from which to preen impertinently and manifest CAC vulgarity, is its place amongst my childhood memories. I’ve mentioned before, how I coveted a madras shirt and an alligator belt when I was in grammar school. My older cousins had ‘em and so did the other older boys in my town and I wanted them too. I’m on the record positing the fact that you can’t start your kids on madras too soon. But all of that’s changed now.
Oh…and what’s CAC? It’s my newly derived species within the WASP genus. I’m absent a few, by my definition, key attributes necessary for inclusion amongst the purest of pure WASP species. And you can best believe that I’ve been tore up about it since I was old enough to figure out that I wasn’t one. Even though my father’s people to this day have been on the same land in South Carolina for over two hundred years, my stock still doesn’t stand the most rigorous test of WASP pedigree. And on my mother’s side, we even have a signer of the Declaration of Independence. You’ll see his signature just below that show-offy flourish of one Mister John Hamcock. Peer pressure and jealously; consistent with what the Good Book, my mama and my grand-mama and Uncle Wiley and Mr. Dawkins, my Scout Master said, is a seductive and ultimately, toxic force. My WASP envy got so bad at one point during college that I would curl up and in a tight little ball and cry like a baby about it. And my college gal, Roxanne Burgess, in all of her desire to sooth me, was an enabler.
Roxanne was about two and a half times my size. Big, obviously, but height-weight proportionate. And she was a stunner. So I’d curl up in her lap and commence crying. "I wanna be like the Alsop brothers” I’d holler…tears puddling and then tributarilating, trickle-down like, into Roxanne’s ample cleavage. And then amidst my waterworks, after gulping some air, I’d whine a clarification on my jealous desires.“…but actually I wanna be like Stewart Alsop because he had hair and liked women.” The more I cried—wailed actually, the more focused and engaged she’d become at trying to sooth me. And sooth, oh my goodness, she did. Looking back on those curled and unfurled moments with Roxanne, I’m rather glad I didn’t arrive at the CAC categorization back then. I’d a had to figure out another pathos over which to have a breakdown. Because one thing was for sure, lap curling and unfurling with my Miss Burgess, was a must-do. Oh lordy, I still haven’t uncloaked the CAC acronym. I am, unequivocally, a Carolina Anglo Cracker. Hold your applause. Shut up.
This was supposed to be about madras right? The iconic badge of Ivy-Prep-WASP-CAC ness right? I’m sitting here typing this drivel in my Brooks Brethren patch madras robe avec white pocket handkerchief and it pains me to declare my final verdict on Madras 2012. I was conflicted regarding whether or not to ban it for 2012. The Brothers Brooks, amidst some of their other misguided Spring 2012 offerings, has done a rather admirable job with Brethren Madras this year. So much so that at one point last week, I was ready to simply declare that Madras 2012 in all iterations, would be wide a_s open. But then God availed to me, a peek at Eric Clapton. And in a flash, I reversed my 2012 decision. Folks, it had to be a divine intervention because I’d a never found this without His help. Bing Crosby in madras...yes. Clapton? Not so much.
Clapton you say? Yep. Clapton is not God but there was a time when that phrase was bandied about. The graffiti was everywhere back in the early 1970’s. Even my uncle Rembert, direct descendant on my mama’s side, of my family's Declaration Signer, would come along and add his affirmational personal signature to the graffiti. Butcept always with red spray paint. Clapton was always one of the first to disavow the comparison. He's never been God but he continues to be an incredible guitarist and part of my hearing loss is due to playing Layla over and over again on my mom’s stereo while I banged my drums. Clapton’s great. But he’s not God.
This is my Eric Clapton. Kinda like how Cal Naughton, Jr. and Ricky Bobby conceptualized their Jesus in Talladega Nights. You have your version of Clapton and I have mine. This is my Eric the way I like to think of him…tentative in his budding fame. And awkward as hell in his 1973 rock star sartorial ensemble…in a bad, side zippered boot kinda way. Oh, and his heroin skinny carcass topped by an “Eric, you oughta try perming your hair” mop. He’s evolved over the years. Fits and spurts and side trips and failings and victories along the way are part and parcel of the Clapton journey. Kinda like madras. But Eric appeared to have most of his fits and troubles early on. Madras, it seems, only started getting trashy in the last half-decade.
Clapton is a good man. Clapton still has most of his guitar chops intact. But Clapton…at least my Clapton, shan’t be wearing any madras cargo shorts in concert. I know they’re comfortable. But they aren’t on strategy for Clapton. At least not my Clapton.
From heroin chic to patch madras cargo shorts in thirty-eight years. And I suppose the pre-concert email suggested that all participants consider madras cargo shorts. Vince Gill got the email. Thanks be to God that my girlfriend, Sheryl Crow didn’t. Clapton in madras cargo is my new embodiment of madras gone wrong. Madras. Where it shouldn't be.
So let’s give madras a rest for the rest—of the 2012 season.
Onward. In linen.