Aunt Minnie once told me that she and her sisters, Aunt Honey and Grandma, never left the house without wearing lipstick. Nana told me she never walked down the street without a hat and gloves. My mother said that when her father found out she took up smoking he told her never to walk down the street smoking a cigarette – only hookers do that.
Judging from how people dress these days and their other habits, you would think they were all just a bunch of trashy hookers. And that includes the men as well.
I love the TV shows of the 1950s and early 1960s when everyone dressed up to do anything including yardwork. Remember the opening sequence of Leave It to Beaver when he is mowing the grass? He is wearing kakis! High water kakis, but kakis nonetheless and a button down shirt. Remember when Lucy got her head stuck in a lovey cup? Ethel wouldn’t go on the subway with her until she changed out of her jeans. I love that episode.
Have you seen what people wear on the Metro? Now we are lucky if their jeans are pulled up past the bottom of their asses. I absolutely hate that look. I don’t get it. It is unattractive. It looks stupid. Will it ever end? Have you seen one of those teenagers (and since it has been around for more than twenty years – adults) try to walk or run? If they only knew that their solidarity with prison folk has to do with taking it up the ass, they might go back to wearing high-waisted pants. I heard that there is a whole generation with hip problems from trying to walk in pants that are cinched at the knees. Good. Dumb asses.
Since my parents never gave me any advice, except to not have children. Well, they never said that, but after living with them while growing up, I surmised that was the wisdom they wished to impart. Most if not all of my sage advice came from my grandmothers and other elderly aunts. My grandfathers died before I was born, so my biggest influences were gray-haired or wig wearing old Jewish women with too much lipstick and always appearing surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke. I was almost eleven years old before I realized neither grandmother, nor their sisters, were related to Endora.
And you wonder how I turned out the way I did. It is no mystery to me.
Of the many things I learned was that one never went out without wearing a girdle, had her or his face on, and your hair done. I cannot imagine what they would think if they were alive today. I can proudly say I try never to leave the house without all three.
You want to see slobs; go to a supermarket in the middle of the day, during the week. You would think these were the people who work from home. Oh no. These are housewives … excuse me … stay at home moms. It is a sea of faded ripped jeans, flip flops and fried red hair. What is it with dying your hair a cross between magenta and burnt sienna and then never bothering to wash or comb it? Seriously?
The strangest thing is all of them, and I mean all of them, have manicured nails. The nails are green, blue, black, and purple, but I’ll be damned if they are not professionally manicured. So, they don’t have a comb at the beauty parlor where you get your nails painted?
Even when I am running a quick errand at 6:00 am after the gym, I am put together, and I have a hat on to cover my bed head. As a matter of fact, I am the only guy in the gym at 5:00 am who wears a hat to cover my undone hair, but you can be assured that the hat coordinates with my choice of shorts and shirt on any particular day. Since Krav Maga classes take place mid-morning, by then, I have showered and primped. I usually win best hair, and no matter how much I sweat, my hair remains in place. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes, my Krav Maga outfit is also color coordinated although one day I made an odd choice of a yellow T-shirt with charcoal sweat pants. I was experimenting. Fortunately, no one commented, but I still won best hair.
With the exception of the 6:00 am grocery run that takes place maybe once a month, I have never run even the simplest errand without having the three elements mentioned above … until recently.
Yesterday, I decided to be creative and put pebbles under my deck inside my walkway to spruce up my front yard, so I showered, put on an outfit Beaver Cleaver would have worn to mow the grass, kakis and a button-down shirt, and drove over to Lowe’s to pick up nine bags of pebbles. Amazingly, well not that amazing if you know me, I managed to load the bags on a cart then wheel them to my car and load that 450 pounds of pebbles into my car without getting a speck of dirt on me or breaking a sweat.
Honey, they don’t call me a flaming queen for nothing. Being Jewish doesn’t hurt either.
Once, I arrived home, I changed into an old pair of sweats and a stained sweatshirt I save for these lawn care tasks in fifty-degree weather and proceeded with my project. Depending on temperature and humidity level, I have just the right outfit, including coordinated older pairs of Chuck Taylors. You never know who is going to drive by!
After an hour, it became quite obvious that I did not have enough pebbles, and by them I was covered in a layer of pebble dust, my hair was no longer perfect, and I didn’t even want to know how my face looked, but I needed to return to Lowe’s for more rocks. Esmeralda, who was lying in the grass observing me, managed to stay perfectly coiffed and looking pretty as ever the entire time.
Time was limited since I had dinner plans with my friend Frank, so I did something unthinkable. After taking Esmeralda inside and grabbing my wallet and keys, I hopped into the car, looking as if I just crawled out from under my deck, which I actually did, and drove over to Lowe’s for nine more bags of pebbles.
Quick shopper that I am, I rushed into the garden center, grabbed a cart and went straight back to the pebble area. The store was empty, so I was able to load up another 450 pounds of pebbles, wheel the cart up front and pay in less than fifteen minutes. Then, I quickly wheeled the cart to my car, and no sooner had I opened the liftgate and started loading the bags, when I heard, “Milton!”
Damn me for driving a thirty-year-old station wagon! You just can’t hide something like that.
I turned around, and standing there was a guy I dated briefly a few years ago, and next to him was his life partner or lover or latest boyfriend or trick from the previous night.
“How have you been? This is Rod.” Or did he say Robert or Rocky or Richard?
“I’ve been good.”
We chatted for just a few seconds, and as they walked away, I heard Ricky, or was it Ralph or Renaldo, say to him, “Looks like you dodged a bullet.”
At that moment, I felt Grandma, Nana, Aunt Minnie, Aunt Rose, Aunt Anita, Aunt Flossie, and Aunt Renee roll over in their graves in unison, and I swear I saw a large cloud of tobacco-smoke materialize overhead. Even Endora was disappointed.
If you never leave the house without lipstick, follow me, join me, get on my email list.