Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trad-Ivy Tuesday: Adolescent Trad or…How to Dress a Son

LFG’s middle school graduation ceremony—year before last—I’m there as always. Like I’ve said a thousand times before…I’m not looking for a fathering merit badge or medal, I’m just trying to do everything that my dad didn’t. And the bar comparatively is really, really low. I don’t remember my dad ever showing up for anything.

Society has lowered or allowed the bar to be lowered on scores of fundamental things that make our world slightly less pleasant. General courtesies or the evaporation of them represent the canary in the coalmine of bar lowering, societal sloppiness. I’m talking about genuine, sincere behaviors that demonstrate respect for ourselves and one another. Not obsequious courtesies like the ones poured on so condescendingly by Southern Junior Leaguers.

Courtesy and good deportment should be gender, race, and age independent…with the exception of adults needing to show our younger charges how it’s done. I’ve struggled to reconcile LFG’s deserved desire for independence against my deeply encoded, rote behavior of opening and closing her car door as well as allowing her to enter buildings before me, courtesy of, again, my door-holding-open Pavlovian damn self. The twelve year old lens through which she sees my efforts conveys hovering daddy as opposed to chivalrous gentleman. Thank goodness that we’ve yet to have the inevitable battles regarding what she wears. Yes, I know it’s coming.

And what we wear counts. I paraphrase G. Bruce Boyer loosely when I say that it’s silly to think that what we wear doesn’t convey things about us and what we believe and how we are likely to behave. Oh lordy, that’s an unfair broad-brushstroke I know. But on balance, I’ve written about not judging books by their covers where I’ve admitted that those nose bolts and those ear lobe expander things that kids install in incrementally larger diameters to make even larger and more ghastly lobe holes kinda scare me. But I also said that I will always give everyone till proven otherwise, the benefit of the doubt regarding their character and integrity, even if their sartorial and body adornment choices scare the dooky out of me. Surely this is two-way traffic as well. Trust me. I’ve met plenty of well groomed, button downed, ultra-traditional…assholes.

“What you are hovers above and thunders so—that I can’t hear what you say to the contrary” rather sums up the deportment and courtesy thing for me. I’d just amend it a bit to read “…what you say and what you’re wearing…” If you’re a turd, it makes no difference if you’re Flusser or Pierced Goth…head to damn toe.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so gobsmacked over this kid. When I was his age all kids were scrubbed and swathed appropriately for momentous occasions like chorus productions, awards functions, and church. But this kid knocks it out of the park on all fronts! I don’t know his parents but I’d like to. I wanna know who gives this kid his instruction. Not just because he’s so neat and well put together but because there are jaunty bits of personal style fuzziness already manifesting.
Gingham button down and thick, chunky rep stripes. BAM!
Well cut flat-front khakis that preclude this young man from looking like a Thom Browne acolyte. Well done mom and dad.
And of course—loafers…the Meryl Streep of shoes. They thrive in any role…especially when the wearer is ten years old. And socks that offer just a bit of baby fuzziness courtesy of a piccolo argyle splash.
I’ll say it again. Well done young man and well done mom and dad. I’d a been impressed if the bar was still as high as it used to be and where it shoulda remained. 
But I was more impressed and smitten by this gal, the young lady sitting a few rows behind him.

Onward. On the road.


Cubanchem said...


Kathy said...

I agree 100%. Having a son a year or so older than LFG, I can relate to the challenges of the age. We lay down the rule for the dress code for any given event, but leave him the choice of how to fulfill it. Seems to be working so far! Cotillion didn't hurt either.

Anonymous said...

This young man brings out my dormant maternal protective instinct. Yes he certainly DOES have it going on, Max. But both of those closed fists with both thumbs tucked securely inside, something says he needs a hug. How in the world did this get to be my life mission, to go sit by the one who seems to need the hug most, I dunno but I would love to sit by this boy, and just be there to strike up some chat, I'd like to know more about what's going on inside this snappy dresser. He's beautiful, a beautiful young man.


maven said...

He is a cutie!

Anonymous said...

Dressing well shows self respect, as well as respect for those who surround you. Kudos to this little guy and his parents.


JKG said...

Stumbled across this the other day; thought it might apply here:

“Manners are of more importance than laws,” Edmund Burke wrote. “Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.”

Anonymous said...

OK, here goes. Somebody has to mention the elephant in the room. What about the poor kid's EYES? Can't some procedure remove that black rectangle or is he stuck with it for life?

BethAnn said...

He is a very dapper young man. But, this Southern Junior Leaguer says "ouch."

Anonymous said...

"Not obsequious courtesies like the ones poured on so condescendingly by Southern Junior Leaguers."

"..this Southern Junior Leaguer says 'ouch.'"

Make that two SJLs. Sheesh, Max.

Obsequious AND condescending?
Wherefore cometh the harsh judgement upon which?

In my lifetime the whole membership arrangement has done a 180. All one has to do these days is WANT to join, and be willing to work her a** off. By contrast, back in the day, one hoping for membership stood up to an embarassment of staged observation points where the harshest of social judgements was performed. Not so today.

The damn thing's evolved, it ain't about blood and charity anymore Max. It's about giving time, doing work and results.


Suburban Princess said...

I've just finished a long gun course - you can imagine the ensembles I've seen this week. There I am all pearls and blazers...in a crowd of hoodies and camo. Even the instructor pegged me for the skeet set and assumed I would not be moving on to the hunter ed course. It's refreshing to see a young man so well dressed!

LFG is gorgeous as always!

LPC said...

He looks fantastic! Almost well-dressed enough to date a lovely young woman with long curly hair. Ha! I had to say it Max, you know I did.

CeceliaMc said...

A wild pink rose of a daughter. Beautiful!

ADG said...

Cubanchem... :) indeed

KathyCotillion…as I’ve written in a previous story. I thought I was gonna die when my mama tole me I had to go to cotillion.

AnonymousDormantThang…I think the turned in hands were just signs of his nervousness.

Maven…like me.


JKG…loved the Burke thang. Courtesy should be timeless.

AnonymousElephantEyes...They took up a collection to get his eyeballs put back in.

BethAnn...See my comment to Flo.

AnonymousFlo…But Junior Leaguers are so much fun to pick on.

Suburban Princess...I love the fact that a genteel Canadian gal is getting all skilled up on firearms! So much for stereotypes…of Canadians and well turned out gals like you!

LPC ... Prunella…Indeed! If LFG was EVER (which of course we know she isn’t) gonna like boys and want to keep company with one, I’d so welcome a young man of his caliber and deportment to come a callin’ on my baby. Lucky for my delusional ass, nothing of course, of that sort, is ever gonna happen.

CeceliaMc…Thanks! And happy new year to you.

Anonymous said...

"Junior Leaguers are so much fun to pick on."

Be forewarned, Max. Pick on the new breed JLers, and they will cut you. Think SubPrin: they're career women, they're armed, their aim is steady, they're wearing pearls.

Take care Max.


Young Fogey said...

Your beautiful little girl is rapidly turning into a lovely young lady.

And that little boy/young man is hitting 'em out of the park already. It seems that the pendulum is swinging against the slovenliness of the Worst Generation; too bad there is yet more suffering (more than just sartorial) that we will have to endure because of them (yeah, I know you're technically one o' them'ns; no, I don't think all Boomers are directly responsible for their collective outrages).

But I digress. I love the socks. I've owned some like them, and would love to have more.

And yes, manners are the sine qua non of civilization. As attributed to "Adam" in Blast From the Past, "good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them," and "a gentleman is someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible."

Susan R said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times to my 5 great kiddos..."Take pride in your appearance."
Little Man has got it going on, he is a mother's dream. The fact that he is sitting cross legged is also a big plus in my book. I don't know what it is, but there is something attractive about a man that will sit cross legged.
Having said that, what is your take on blue socks with black shoes?