The Casual Male

Never let it be said that I was ever a Carl Brown when it came to fashion sense. My man, Carl, was best dressed everyday of high school. To this day, I wonder what it’s like to have a fashion sense. I find myself most comfortable in the uniform of my career, shorts and a T-shirt, so on those rare occasions when I need to clean up, it’s a bit of a struggle. However, there was a day when I thought, perhaps with a misguided eye, that I had put together an ensemble that might be worthy to be seen in the catalog of Carl’s very dapper threads.

Coach Farrior had a rule that we had to wear a tie to away basketball games. I wasn’t a fan of the rule and relied on my father for clothes that would make sure I held true to the minimum standard of being dressed up for the away games. It happened that one away game took place on a day when we did not have school. My plan was to hang out with my friend all day, get ready of the game at his house, and then go to the bus for the game. There were two problems with this plan. First, I lived far from school and even farther from my friend’s house. Second, I forgot a shirt and tie for the game.

I didn’t realize my mistake until it was nearly time to leave for the bus. Panic set it as I thought about riding the pine for not having a tie. As stupid as I thought the rule, it didn’t matter. My coach thought it important, so I better think it important. My friend, the infamous Hubba and I jumped into my 1966 Mustang and took off on the Ironbound Express for the Williamsburg Outlet Mall. I got that 289 up to some serious NASCAR like speed. We ran into the mall, Hubba was already dressed for the bus ride and I was decked out with a three-quarters baseball shirt, grey dress pants, and my favorite Tony Llama cowboy boots. We rushed into The Casual Male, two illiterate fashion shoppers, thinking that putting a classy outfit together was as simple as snapping a few Legos together. I ended up with an off-white shirt, a tie-bar, and a a maroon skinny tie. I dressed in the store and we raced to school for the bus. I looked like Urban Cowboy meets Club New York.

The ride back up Ironbound Road was equally fast. The maroon blur sprinting back to Longhill Road is something people still hear on those quiet nights when legends and myths come to life. Somehow we made it to school with a few minutes to spare. I probably thought ZZ Top was singing about me as I strutted across the parking lot with my ridiculous combination of threads. I think we played Bethel that night and I showed how my lack of fashion sense was bolstered by poor decision making as I took a charge from Bethel’s version of the Mountain. Years later I met someone who went to Bethel who remembered me as a player. “You were the kid with the cowboy boots,” he said. I had made a stylistic impression!

So there, haters. My fashion sense made an impression, of sorts, somewhere.

Fast forward to 2016… I’m standing in the Lancaster, PA version of CBGB. I’m rocking cargo shorts and Polo with running shoes and a two-fisted approach to hydration at the concert I’m about to watch. My son’s band, the Good Fat (in that day that would have been Phat) is getting ready to go on stage. They came out and rocked their jam band stylings about as hard as they could. Keep in mind that I’m biased, but my son plays the kind of music that I can relate to and his band is really good. (Check them out on Soundcloud…shameless plug) As he was throwing down an Allman Brothers solo, I happened to take notice of his clothes. Hawaiian styled shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. Yep, he got my sense of “what-I-like-I-wear-style,” too.

And the boots; hand me downs from his father, those same Tony Llamas I rocked for a couple of years back in the 80s. I suppose that makes us casual males…

Sorry for that…

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