Seumas Hyslop, in an earlier post, pointed out that he’d always rather be mistaken for a member of a class lower than his own. Now, let’s take a look at Dr. Hyslop. Right off the bat, you’ll note that his honorific implies that he’s had the time and money to spend quite a long time at university; in fact, if you know him (or have guessed from his use of the handle #beardoc), he’s actually a medical doctor. Strange thing is, though, first time I met the man, he was wearing a distinctly tatty plaid shirt that looks as if it had been on sale at the local op shop after serving a few years as part of a Mike Kelly exhibit. To make it even less appealing, the poor fellow keeps wearing the damned thing, well past its probably use-by date. To complete the outfit, he wears faded jeans and a battered pair of Blundstone boots (for you foreigners out there, those are US $40 boots much beloved by the average Australian working man; as they are elastic-sided, they are easy to put on while pissed out of your mind). Now, those aren’t exactly the kind of clothes that shout, hey, I may yet earn more than $100,000 a year and might even be able to play golf.
I, too, have sometimes felt embarrassed by my income level and/or education, but unlike Seumas, I generally don’t wear anything you wouldn’t expect someone of my status to wear. Unlike an awful lot of other Bears, I own but one flannel shirt – and I actually wear it camping, because it’s nice when it’s cold. (It is in fact so ugly that I have never worn it to the Lone Star.) Most of the time, I wear tasteful but bland shirts with button down collars, most of which come from reliably middle-class (and middlebrow) suppliers like Eddie Bauer and REI. >>>YAWN<<< I also tend to wear $80 sneakers, white-bread jackets, and (gasp) short-sleeve polyester shirts in the summertime. Believe you me, it can be kind of strange wearing a daggy Lands End jacket (hey, at least it isn’t Members Only) surrounded by a bunch of bears in leather biker jackets at the Lone Star. (At least the Lands End jacket is urine-resistant, but I digress.)
Of course, writing this, I find that I’m basically doing something similar to what Seumas is doing: dressing in a particular way that isn’t necessarily out of any great love of clothing, but rather to confound the expectations of others. Whereas Seumas may want to be accepted as an ordinary guy (somewhat likely), or more specifically want to be judged on his own personal merits instead of dismissed (or, unfortunately, glommed onto) as a doctor, I want to wear clothes that distinctly show that I have very little taste or style, that I am thoroughly ordinary in a very unappealing manner, and that I am a thrifty sort who will not spend more money than is necessary (unless you’re talking about obscure wine varietals… a man’s got to have a few weaknesses). Thing is, though, at least Seumas can look good in his faux-workman’s clothes; me, I’m just trying to look like an unattractive Target shopper. Which is worse, I’m not sure. Not sure at all.