Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Trad-Ivy Tuesday: Back to Basics—Birdwells and Topsiders

I’m not making this up… “LFG, your foot is almost big enough to wear the smallest size women’s Belgian loafers. Would you wear a pair if maybe in a few more years I got some for you?” Her reply… “Maybe to a costume party.” The woman has decided tastes and opinions and at twelve years old, she now parses them out liberally, transparently and without so much as a flinch. From where her traits come, I don’t know.
So LFG let it be known that the only shoes…Belgians and huaraches… I packed for our recent vacation “embarrass me, dad.” I know, I know…a dozen of you have told me that this is only the beginning. She’s a bit weary of seeing me almost exclusively in Belgians on the weekend and my cheap, buy a pair every other summer, huaraches that for some reason were ok last year but were met with the tisky of tisk tisks last week. Huaraches? I mean come on…if they were good enough for Dean Acheson then they should be good enough for me.
Oh, and my fifteen dollar Gap Outlet bathing trunks/board shorts (The idea of me being in something called “board shorts” at my age is funny. Maybe bored shorts) she also found appalling. And I’m sure, based on the photo above; many of you will find them appalling too. So let me get defensive in advance. First, they were too long so I cut them off. “Quelle horreur” my not so little LFG declared, having aced 6th grade French with straight A’s all year long. Butcept when she expressed this while in South Carolina, I kinda figgered it would be pronounced Kale (as in the leafy greens) or better yet Cale (as in my boyhood hero Cale Yarborough) har (as in hardy har har) are (as in how are you doing?) Kale-har-are? Come on baby, it’s just a pair of swim trunks and we are headed to Delaware, not Capri. But still LFG declared that the only thing I could wear swim trunk wise that wouldn’t elicit that Kale-Huarache revulsion would be a solid color trunk. Listen, I’m coachable but I do need, like most people, specific direction on what needs to be tweaked.
And one more thing before I move on from the swim trunk thing. The record shows that I’d have at least another 150k in the bank if I hadn’t indulged in my sartorial passions. Wait, I take that back. If it wasn’t clothes it would be the Mercedes SL that I still covet or shotguns or art or a boat or something. Thanks. I needed to get that rationalization codified for the delusional record. But I don’t spend big money on swim trunks.
In order for me to be excessive in some areas, I must be frugal in others. Case in point was my lunch yesterday. Courtesy of CVS in Old Town.Y’all can buy those Villabaququi’s if you want to. I’d rather put that kinda silly money towards a pair of Belgians—that LFG is tired of seeing me wear. When was the last time you had Funyuns?
I’ll get back to the swim trunks dilemma in a moment but for now, let’s stay with the casual shoe issue. I’ve no shortage of other casual shoes including various Bean camp mocs and bluchers and canvas Sperrys etc. But the current LFG shodding arbiter sieve won’t allow any of them to pass. So my casual goof-off shoe line-up is suddenly in kidney stone mode. And trust me; I’ve had a kidney stone. When amidst such an event, you’ll do almost anything to mitigate the traffic jam. So LFG and I set out to a place that sells surf gear and sunglasses and flip flops and TOMs shoes for kids and Toad’s second to Topsiders favorites…Crocs.
Never in a million years did I think I’d be back in a pair of these. But alas, here we are. I wore these standard fare Sperry Topsiders in college when I wasn’t wearing one of the three versions of Weejuns…brown, navy blue or tan pebble grain ones. Literally, those were all the shoes I owned. But then I discovered Bean camp mocs and bluchers and dropped Topsiders during college. After a few more years of even fancier offerings courtesy of Gucci and Ralph driving mocs and Topsiders were off my Trad radar screen forever. 
Topsiders just began to look inelegant compared to almost every other option…leastways to me. So why did my Bean mocs and bluchers not fall prey to the same inelegant designation? I don’t know. Might be something about the brown soles and the rusticated Adirondackness of them that left my mind’s eye settled on the fact that the Bean line-up in all of its inelegance by design was still less twee. I don’t know. Don’t press me on the issue any further. Oh, and maybe if I’d been a sailor, the classic Topsider would have remained in my cache.
Nothing against the classic boat shoe and God knows that my best buddy Toad loves Topsiders and has a gaggle of ‘em at all times. He’s sporting a pair of blue ones in his Father’s Day post and I think, without going back to verify it, that he gave one of his young’uns away in a seaside wedding ceremony…in Topsiders. And I eventually had blue ones too…when in undergrad. But they were Docksides, not Topsiders. Whatever that means to some retentive “get the story correct” boat shoe historian out there. Shut up. Blue boy.
So my LFG goes straight to the Topsiders at the store and says “here…get these.” I was mildly flummoxed and immediately sought clarification and validation from my little boss woman. “Yep, these are fine dad.” “Ok, are you certain that I won’t embarrass you when publicly preening…shod in these?” (You think I don’t really use those actual phrases when talking to my kid, don’t you? Wrong.) Once I was sure of her seriousness and clarity on the issue, the deal was done. Elegant? No. Functional and acceptable? Yes. LFG tisk-tisk eye roll minimization? Worth every penny of the almost seventy clams I paid. Cheaper somewhere else? Probably. But I needed to turn back the humiliation tide post haste. And I'll learn to live with the embossed logo dooky that now adorns them and didn't...way back. Then.
But we still needed to solve the swim trunks issue. LFG’s next charge was to look around the zillion pairs of board shorts and whatever the latest vernacular and brand centric truths that were on display. They had every brand about which I know nothing. Other than the Gap Outlet cheapies, I’d been wearing whatever running/workout/gym shorts I had available to me. Things aren’t a problem until they are defined as a problem. And to date, no one ever identified my swimming tog choices as problematic. Little five year old LFG didn’t seem to have a problem with my elastic waist draw string ditties from Target seen above. But then again, they were a solid color. And no funny comments about the left leg of  my Target draw string ditties being longer than the right. We all have things that must be accommodated and coped with. Shut up.
LFG wanders over to the swim togs rack and pulls these out. Bam! Birdwells. Then the child thought for sure that my head had jumped timing. I was, surprise, completely animated and energized by my Birdwell recollections (You can read about it here) and launched into one of my storytelling autodidactilated verbal spews. 
I was fueled surely, by the memories of my seventeenth summer which was one of my greatest...ADG the one hundred and thirty pound lifeguard is seen above. Thanks be to the good Lord that nobody needed saving at the Country Club of South Carolina. But then I caught myself. And stopped. And asked LFG if the Birdwells met her approval. Upon affirmation, I tried them on for size and we were at the register and out the door in no time. All’s well that ends well. What goes around comes around. We could cliché this one forever but I won’t. What I will say is that I’m happy when LFG is happy and our mission was accomplished…
…till we got home. “Dad, your Sperrys look too new.” It’s always something, no? So my Sperrys were  brined in a sorta Delancey Street pickle barrel dirt melange for a week.
LFG and I have another week’s vacation starting this coming weekend and hopefully now extricated and baking in the sun, the Sperrys will be a bit, shall we say, “curated-cured-weathered-dirty-personalized?” Whatever.

Onward. Birdwelled. And not the least damned bit embarrassed.


Anonymous said...

There's the unmistakable LFG NoDad look on that precious face! Priceless, Max. If memory serves, last time we saw the NoDad look was back at Restoration Hardware, she was giving an opinion of the Aviator Chair you were lusting after. The girl's got it down.


Young Fogey said...

A chuckle-out-loud story if ever there were one. Thanks for the preview on what it's like to have a 12-year-old daughter.

Too bad you dumped your Church's boat shoes ;-)

I can't stand that durn near everything casual has been logoized: sunglasses, boat shoes, tennis (i.e., polo) shirts, and, of course, athletic shoes, not to mention T-shirts and baseball caps (which are barely on my sartorial radar but there they are anyway).

Companies pay top dollar to advertise on the bodies of top athletes; we rubes pay top dollar to advertise for those companies.

Hope you have a great time with LFG, and that you manage not to make her die of embarrassment by the mere fact of your existence.

Anonymous said...

The late newspaper columnist Russell Baker once said about the teen years-- The only thing to say to your 12-19 year old is pass the salt.

Happy Fourth to you and LFG.

Anonymous said...

Let the poor 'siders dry. Then try to vacuum them, maybe with one of those useless computer vacuums. Then bang them upside down over a trash can, then try again with the vacuum. Take out the sockliners if you can. Now, for the outsides, mix a lot of baby oil with a little of whatever kind of brown polish you have. Get out the wire brush, or at least a stiff bristle or nylon one. Scrub the shoes, twice. Then treat the uppers ( especially the stitching and the laces) with the baby oil- polish mix. If the soles are still too bright, randomly poke the edges a few places with a sharpie or magic marker, then wipe on/wipe off the same polish. If there is too much, don't worry, as it will probably not stay stuck to the rubber soles. If they look like you have ruint them, try a little steel wool on the edges to remove just a little. Finally, vacuum the insides one more time. You can glue the sockliners back in or not.

N. Herreschoff Quoddymoc

NCJack said...

Bubba, you know she loves you, and probably her buddies think you're the man when it comes to sartorialityishness...but she's a female AND adolescent, so ya gotta be part of the herd for awhile. Not too this, not too that, look like the pictures of the (currently) cool people. You can bust loose with the big girls. Hey, she could've insisted you get some square toed rubber soled shoes

NCJack said...

BTW, you're in pretty good company: some years ago I read an article about adolescent embarassment, and they cited an instance where they young (about 12) lady begged her daddy not to sing around people when they were out. Billy Joel agreed he wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

While I'm generally opposed to expensive beachwear, I happened into a pair of Vilbrequins last year and have to say that they're more comfortable in the, er, lining than any other trunks I've got.

Also, you are kind of selling me on the iconic sperrys.

Turling said...

My LFG is only 4. Sweet Mary of Jesus this is what I have to look forward to? She already has the opinions of 4 people. Luckily, her opinions are limited to fruit selection, letter identification, headwear and Zach Effron. I feel years of pain coming on. Luckily, I have my son in my corner. Not sure if that's worth anything.

I've never had a Funyon. And, looking at the package, I'm quite content with that fact.

THe Leopard said...

Dear sweet boomerang ( as in reverting to back what boomers wore when they were younger)child of yours that she is has figured out that what is old is new again, genius, she gravitates toward the classics encourage this ( it will save time, money and arguments later on). As for the logos festooned all over everything today they are no gos to me, back in the day people knew what was what and didn't have to be a walking billboard. As for the purchases Sperry solid, Birdwell solid, Funyuns seriously? I was surprised they still make those did you check the expiration date? I think they only keep for 20 years. Now to the Vilebrequins they are great you need to get some of these bad boys they are well worth the price of admission and with all the wild patterns would dovetail well with your go to hell pants collection.

ADG said...

Leopard...YOU AIN'T PAYING CLOSE ENOUGH ATTENTION...LFG won't allow the patterned bathing togs. Plus, those Villabuhquikwees are too expensive. And finally...Funyuns are LOADED with preservatives. Therefore they never expire and if you eat 'em, you'll live for ever.

Turling...nice to know that I'm not alone in the high minded little girl thing. And you've not lived till you have a Funyun.

AnonSperrys...skip the Sperrys. I only did them out of compliance. And the fact that the Birdwells have NO lining is a positive for me. So the lining in the Villabequoquos ain't enough for me to pounce.

NCJackie...Roger. On all of the good advice. Billy Joel..ha!

BarbaraG...Rusell Baker and Tony Kornheiser. Tony said kind of the same thing.

AnonQuoddyMoc...I'll never care enough about these things to go through all of that. nailed it. And I seem to get that look nowadays more often than not.

RHW said...

My LFG hates the white soles of my Quoddy deck shoes...

BethAnn said...

Well, the one good thing out of all of this is that since you can't wear the polka dot shorts in Miss L's presence, you will never ever ever never ever wear the Sperrys with those shorts, thank the Lord.

And the look on LFG's face, with her hand on hip and knee cocked is priceless. You are going to be an absolute wreck once the boys start coming around, because they will, in droves, with this one. Sorry, you should probably do best with just putting your head in the sand. I won't bring it up again.

Anonymous said...

Funny - I need a casual work shoe and I was wondering if the Max would wear a boat shoe and I said to myself "no way" - you're a tough one to pin down.

RHW said...

And by the way, Funyun's is good eatin'. Don't trust anyone who says differently!

The Leopard said...

I will write a note to LFG explaining that all the cool kids are wearing Vilebrequins and you don't want your dad to feel left out, as for the cost please $225 for a pair of trunks expensive? I think you might want to check some of those Flusser bills and what about those expensive antique Funyuns those must have set you back quite a bit. As for the Funyuns you'll be okay as long as you don't eat them with Mountain Dew, if this happens contact Jimmy Carter and he can talk you down.I'm off to my remedial reading class now have a good weekend.

ilovelimegreen said...

I am wild about the the tri-color palm tree shorts. You could buy them and not wear them around LFG. I am impressed with her selection of Birdwells (albeit in a solid color) for you.

My father bought me pair of genuine Sperry Topsiders in eighth grade during one of our afternoon jaunts to Annapolis. Then just before the start of ninth grade, my school finally did away with the uniform staple of saddle shoes and replaced them with Docksiders. Well, the about-to-turn-14 me just couldn't go to school in Topsiders but HAD to get a pair of Sebago Docksiders and not stick out from everyone else. Little did I realize that Topsiders were the less mass-produced deckshoes and I didn't wear mine out in highschool and they were close to brand new by the time I caught on during college.