Taking a cue from Suzanne, I've been reading through some of my old writing lately. While I don't have a novel graveyard, I do have a number of kick-ass, funny, amazing - almost prophetic - essays that I wrote during a time when I was convinced I could be the straight David Sedaris.
First, some history.
I started writing seriously when I was in graduate school. M.F.A., you ask? Pshaw. (Hell yes, I just went there...) No, I studied religion. Theology. The stuff of Gods. Or God, at least. Anyway, while most of my friends were learning how to be holy, how to look good in a black robe, I became convinced that the best use of my $50,000 Vanderbilt education would be to become... a writer.
Naturally, I started writing about myself. Because is there a more compelling subject? These essays ranged from seeing a person return a Bible to my brief experience selling jeans at American Eagle. The one I've decided to share, however, is about One-Legged Pants. What are One-Legged-Pants, you ask?
Right. So this was just begging to be written about. So, here it goes... Part 1 of I Am Punk Rock
Fashion extremes run deep in my family. From my sister’s pearl necklace phase, to my own flirtations with switchblade combs and shark-tooth jewelry...well, let’s just say that none of us are afraid of Fashion.
So, when my mom called and told me of my brother’s plans to buy one-legged pants, I wasn’t surprised. Perhaps it was because I had just bought a pair of horn-rimmed glasses that day, but this all seemed reasonable to me.
“He’s not going to get killed,” I said. “Would you rather him walking around looking like a male model? Now, that would scare me more than these...wait, what are they?”
“One-legged pants. And he is going to die, Bryan. The greasers are going to kill your brother. This is Tennessee! Nobody here wears stuff like that...”
My mother’s fear is authentic, if not a bit dated. I am certain she does not believe in fashion greasers stalking the hallways of local high schools, looking to deliver a beating to anybody not in $100 jeans - let alone one-legged pants. But, this is West Tennessee. Home Wranglers and large trucks. And let’s just say that my brother isn’t exactly a good ole’ boy. He watches obscure cartoons, and could give a flip about football or - pretty much - anything else consuming the mind of most other high school guys. You can find him on Friday night recreating epic light sabre duels in my parent’s den that at any of the cool spots in town. So, I get it. Maybe one-legged pants aren’t the fashion statement my brother needs to make at this point in his life.
“Just tell him not to wear them to school,” my mom said. For most of my adult life, my mother has believed that my words would convince any average teenager from doing one thing or another. Kind of like a pastoral Jedi mind trick, I guess. She also is convinced that, if only I had taught my brother to catch and throw a football, that he would have been somehow elevated above the cruelty and crap of high school. “He can’t wear them to school...”
Her voice trailed off as I began inspecting my new glasses. They jumped from my face in obtuse glory. These were serious specs. They screamed progressive politics and punk rock mentalities. Of course, I could see nothing out of them as they were most likely plucked directly off the face of some aged revolutionary. That would explain the tri-focal lenses. I enjoyed wearing them around the house, trying not to stumble over toddlers and other unrecognizable things on the floor. My wife, who does not understand Fashion, told me they looked ridiculous.
“And you can’t even see out of them!”
“You’ll get used to them,” I said at dinner one night. “This is high Fashion, Michelle.” I missed another stab at the peas on my plate, and began to explain to my wife how these glasses were the stuff of revolutionaries, people who make a difference in the world. You can take them off your face when making a point, and it will be nothing short of profound, my wife.