I don’t know if she’ll ever wear it but that’s not the point. There will be one here for her if and when she’s ready. And it will be here with a back story, even if she’s never ready…to wear the buckle. And God knows I’m all about the back story.
I’d say that my memory escapes me but when you are in the third grade, even if your memory is photographic and never weakens, I’m thinking that you’d never remember what your first silver buckled gator belt cost. I have to believe that my first one was silver plated and even though the strap was genuine gator, it couldn’t have been too costly. But third graders don’t track that kind of shit. All I know is that I had one and it satisfied a craving like I’d never felt previously. I’ve shared before that it was in my third grade year when I saw the older school boys and my older cousins sporting monogrammed silver buckled gator belts and bleeding madras pants and I wanted to look like them. I wasn’t aware that the silver monogrammed buckle and gator strap was about as Trad-Ivy iconic as anything. Just for context and for visual filler, here’s my third grade teacher, Mrs. Geraldine Anderson.
Royall Elementary School wasn’t air conditioned and when school started in September, the South Carolina air was still hot and sticky. Mrs. Anderson ran a tight classroom and spoke clearly above the drone of a floor fan by her desk that at best just reshuffled the stifle during the first four weeks of school. And she seemed to be a hundred years old by the time I had her but I loved her. Especially at reading time. Even silver monogrammed gator belt buckled South Carolina kids can read on their own, usually, by the time they make third grade but Mrs. Anderson read to us a couple of times each week . She read us the Miss Minerva series and I remember her doing the Negro dialects with relish. Here was a woman not yet in her dotage but to me she was ancient and she was reading us this regional stuff in vernacular from decades past. She’d be fired for reading such un-pc stories today. The ink on the Civil Rights Act had long since been dry but Mrs. Anderson’s classroom was whitey white white. Only. Sorry, this was supposed to be about silver belt buckles, right? I seem to have digressed. Shut up.
My daddy back then was crazy or drunk enough to have bought me the real deal even at absurd prices. My mama was never drunk and is only now at eighty three years old, getting a wee bit childish but still not even close to crazy. She’d a never paid a premium for my buckle and strap and she did all the procuring. My daddy just financed the gig. That’s me above at about ten years old…the original picture avec sister and the accidental baby brother who knocked me out of the baby position in the progeny queue. I've cropped them out of the picture for various reasons but mostly because of my baby brother. It took me forty years to forgive him for said line-up interrupticus. Navy blazer, regimental stripe tie from the Minerva Occasional Gurkhas of the Pee Dee, gray trousers surely cinched courtesy of my silver buckled gator strap. And last but not least, my Cub Scout ring of which I was almost equally proud to sport.
So with the exception of the two and a half dark years when I tried unsuccessfully to be a hippie, I’ve always had a monogrammed silver buckle. And the quality of the buckle has evolved over time. Silver plated in college…even though I worked in a Trad Mother Church part time, I couldn’t afford the real deal. After college and for the next few decades, I wore a completely acceptable Polo Ralph version. And now, thanks to LFG’s Father’s Day largess of a few years ago, I think I’ve got the last one I’ll ever need or want. The ne plus ultra…Tiffany version…but more importantly, from LFG.
But did girls ever wear ‘em? And do they wear ‘em now? I know that they did years ago and I’d speculate that nowadays a gal would have to be ultra-Prep to wanna wear one. My Prodigal Sister Allie Von No Blog displays evidence of monogrammed silver buckle acceptance and even suggests… “A sterling slide buckle engraved with each bridesmaid's monogram is such a timeless gift. We're talking both town annnd country when your girls later pair it with a swanky alligator or leather strap...” So there. For my money, the relevance and correctness of silver buckles for gals has been put to bed. Tucked in Allie Von Summer Style. Oh, and before we leave Sistah Allie, go here and look at the third picture. I know the caption touches on hopes and dreams and stuff and that’s great. Butt crack sand is the only thing that comes to mind for me and it ain’t comfy.
I’ve not shown the buckle to LFG and I won’t ‘till the time is right…till she can appreciate the gesture even if she never wears it. Right now she’s harrumphing prepubescently so most gestures are met tisk-tiskily at best. So where did the buckle come from? A South Carolinian whom I’ve never met but who if we sat down together and sorted out the family vine, might be kin to me somehow. And even if there’s no blood kin, our backgrounds, interests and sensibilities are aligned. We’ve never met but I’m certain, if the Lord tarries, we shall one day. Speaking of largesse…a monogrammed belt buckle for a little girl? Like me, he has tons of extra stuff and in this case, a buckle or two. Unlike me, he has access to an engraving machine. None the less, I remain deeply humbled by the gesture. Really.
So let me close this drivel with quick update on the ADG/LFG last minute sortie to Puerto Rico. We are both getting brown as berries even with SPF 50 and 30. What a difference thirty years makes, SPF preference wise. Today it’s Old San Juan. In Belgians.
Onward. SP Effing.
ADG II and LFG…the only. She’s still my heart, even though she only grunts at me.