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.