Around the start of March, I opted for a new haircut. I prefer to have longer hair because I’ve got good hair and because I think it’s a look more reflective of my spirit. Unfortunately, I’ve got a wilful head of hair which meant that some days I might look a million dollars, but there were many more days when I looked untidy and decidedly un-corporate.

I decided to go for a David Beckham type style, which excited my hairdresser no end – he’s been trying to get me to go shorter for yonks. As it happens, it’s a style that suits my hair type, and though it was quite novel for me at first, it was a lot easier to manage. Most importantly perhaps, it went down a treat with my audience.

I went into work the next week and got all sorts of positive comments. The consensus was that I’d become quite handsome overnight. That was the sort of positive affirmation I was after, and I went home chuffed.

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to my hairdresser. Like most gentlemen of my vintage, I’ve now got a few grey hairs. They’re not so easy to spot in my hair – I’m blonde – but I found that overall it made my hair a bit duller in aspect. Used to be I had beautiful hair that everyone would comment on. I took it for granted probably, but suddenly I was missing the soft glow my hair once had. On just this one occasion I decided to get some colour in my hair.

I used to do it much more often. At my most fashionable I’d get blonde highlights put through my hair. Nothing too garish, more subtle and stylish than that. I wasn’t looking to make a statement, but rather complement what I already had. Unlike a lot of blokes, I had no real qualms about that. I grew up in a household in which my mum was a firm advocate for appearance and style. Over the years she had a multitude of different hairstyles and had it coloured more often than not – on top of which she was always beautifully dressed. She wanted that for her children too, especially me, and I remember the very first time I got my hair coloured. I must have been about 14, at the Biba hair salon in the complex at Greensborough.

So anyway I turned up to get my hair coloured for the first time in about ten years. All I wanted was to take the grey hairs in my head and make then a subtle blonde. It was a look that people might overlook at a micro level but would enhance the overall aspect of my hair – less flat, more bright.

I was happy with the outcome, and nobody noticed I had my hair coloured. But then people began to comment on my overall look. Someone said I looked ten years younger. The positive feedback I was receiving before amped up further. Combined with the fact that my enforced diet has made me much fitter, I am in large part a transformed man (outwardly; working on the inward). The positive reception has been huge and gratifying, even if I don’t necessarily see what all the fuss is about – I look in the mirror and see a traditionally handsome man, not the rad dude I was before.

Gold and blue

I think I’m a stylish and well dressed kind of guy. Others may beg to differ, but I doubt it. I like clothes, and am enough of a show-off to dress with a bit of flair. I don’t want to blend into the crowd.

Now in many ways style is individual, but some taste elements are pretty basic and universal, like what colours go together, and what don’t.

Over the weekend I had a fashion experience that has left a bad taste in the tum.

One of my best mates JV is getting married in a couple of months time. I’m in the wedding party and so JV asked me to help shop for suits for the blokes. JV is more conservative that I am. He doesn’t want to make a splash, and is happy to be basically classical. His fiance had particular notions about what we should be wearing, some of which JV would never go for, and which didn’t make complete sense in other ways.

So we went out on Saturday looking for suits basically pale grey or pale brown. It was a beautiful sunny day and we went from place to place while he tried on a bunch of suits, some of which were gorgeous, but not entirely suitable. Given the limited scope it was a hard job.

At one place we went beyond the brief and JV tried on an absolutely gorgeous suit. It was funky and cool and somehow retro, like something you’d see in Mad Men, or Sean Connery wear in one of the 007 movies from the sixties. It was a very vibrant blue, a great suit to wear to the races and so on, particularly paired up with the right accessories. We sent a photo of to his missus just in case and she turned her nose up saying, somehow, that it was an ‘old man’s suit’ – when in fact it was a cool dude’s suit. Back to the drawing board.

Finally JV picked out a pale grey suit and got some adventurous accessories and that was fine. The groom’s party would follow suit by donning a suit a shade more grey – same, but different.

Apparently that didn’t go down well, and then it emerged the bridesmaids were wearing gold and I had one of those fist to the head moments wondering why the fuck we couldn’t go blue when blue was the absolutely perfect option?

I presume a certain level of fashion sense exists in most people, but maybe I’m wrong. Gold and blue is a classic combination. Gold and grey isn’t. I have to say – inappropriately – that I wish it had been all left to me to sort out properly, rather than muddle through as we did with mixed messages, confused fashion sense, and incomplete info. I know, the bride is always right, but what’s annoying is that it’s a missed opportunity that shouldn’t have been missed. It will look ok, and no-one will complain – but it could have been great.

Fashion as persona

This is the only second home of mine where I have a walk-in robe. You enter it and there are clothes hanging, or  in drawers, on three sides, and shelves of shoes. I have a lot of clothes. I’ve always had an eye for fashion, a love and appreciation for the well designed and well made. It’s always been important to reflect some sort of style. For me, clothes have always been about much more than cladding against the elements.

I’m not sure where I got this from. It seems logical that it is the influence of my mum, though I don’t feel that. She too loved fine things, and always made a great effort to be fashionable at the very least, if not downright glamorous. I think glamour intimidates some, but it was something mum was unafraid of, and so embraced. Speak to many of her friends and it is a word that crops up again and again. Mum loved being glamorous, but for her it was more than just a part of her persona, it was substantiated who she was.

Is it the same for me? I don’t think so. I like fine fashion, but I think in me it’s equal parts the love of beauty, and ego. I have always had an appreciation of the aesthetic. Where other people see nothing I see something, even if it is utilitarian or ugly. I take in the surrounding environment, through my eyes obviously, but aurally also, and by taste. I wander through this environment pondering on it, wondering at it, speculating as my innate curiosity runs its course. Observation is a big part of who I am, and a big part of that is an appreciation of what might be deemed stylish at the very least – though style is a subjective, contentious notion.

From an early age I took an interest in all of the arts, not just for what they appeared to be, but for where they led. Staring into an artwork at the NGV painted a century and a half ago and a world away leads to considerations much deeper than a few dabs of coloured paint on canvas. Likewise music, literature, architecture, fashion, even the way people hold and comport themselves, and what they seek to project.

This is where ego comes into it. I love my fine clothes. In my wardrobe right now there are suits from Armani, Versace, Joseph Abboud. To don one of those with the right shirt shirt, the stylish tie, and a pair of classy shoes, is a delight. Truly, there are days when I could happily take to the catwalk. I love them for what they are – beautifully cut, fine fabric, and with a touch of dash mixed in. I can admire someone walking by and think what a great jacket, or look at that shirt. Mine is the appreciation of the aesthete.

But it’s also the statement of intent. Clothes maketh the man they say. Maybe. They certainly tell a tale I think. For some the tale is very short or irrelevant: clothes are no more than function (which in itself reveals much about the person within them). More often the fashion we assume, the style that draws us, reveals some kind of personal narrative. We may approve or disapprove of the fashion choices others make – doesn’t that happen every day? – but we are drawn into that narrative by those choices. Consciously or not we buy into their story, and, knowingly or more often not, in our reactions to it gain some insight into ourselves.

I’ve always been conscious of the physical appearance I make. I could care less what people think of me as a person, but it was important to me that I presented myself to the world in a certain manner. It might be vanity, it might be a variant of the control freak I’ve sometimes been accused of being. Probably both. More often than not it has been unconscious, or perhaps simply automatic. I was fortunate that I grew to be taller than average, and for most of my life with a decent build. I was made to wear clothes, and wear them well. Somewhere along the line it became an act, occasionally, of fashion imperialism.

Much as I loved the clothes I wore for their innate beauty and style, I loved what they did for me. In a great suit, a bold tie, shoes that clicked on the marble floor with every step, a good leather jacket or even a well worn pair of jeans, I sort to assert some projection of my persona. There’s a lot of fashion about that. If I walked into a room I wanted people to know I was there, to glance at me and admire the suit, like the tie even as they wondered if they could get away with it. I wanted them to look up as I passed, drawn by the rhythmic click of my heels on the floor. I was Narcissus made flesh, and to some degree remain him.

Described like that it seem,s awfully shallow, which is an accusation often flung at the world of fashion. At the very least it’s glib. Yet there was rhyme to this. Pleasant as it is to have my tyres pumped by admiring glances, it set a standard for me. It told the world that yes, I liked my clothes, that I appreciated style and quality. It also gave the world notice that was not the retiring, reserved type. I had confidence, boldness, self-belief, ambition. What came first: the clothes, or the sense of self they portrayed? Fashion was just one component of the persona I projected, and it would have fallen flat had I not been able to back up my bold assertions with performance, but it was an important component. It was the theme music that announced my arrival.

Now I’m writing this with the benefit of hindsight, and looking back over the span of 25 odd years. Did I think that way then back in the day? Rarely, if at all. I knew it I think, without knowing it. It was in my bones if you like, in the composition of the ever evolving self. I knew instinctively the value and worth of these things, and instinctively exploited them. It was a part of my authentic self given voice by the availability of fine fashion, that self that both appreciated fine things and was savvy enough to understand the practical value of appearance in a competitive world. I was always competitive, always wanted to win. It was never going to be any other way.

Now after those 25 odd years I feel things shifting. If anything I appreciate fine fashion more now than ever, but have discovered my relation to it is shifting. In my casual life I’ve often appeared a a stylish slob. I don’t slope around in tracky-dacks, my bum crack is always well concealed, my dress might be casual and loose-limbed, but the quality is always good. Classically I’ll get about in a pair of favourite jeans, a cool t-shirt, maybe some knitwear in the winter, some great coats and jackets, the odd scarf and beanie on the coldest days. I haven’t really changed how I’ve dressed much in all of those 25 years. This is how I feel, and I haven’t felt much different throughout. Until now perhaps.

As I look around my WIR I find my wardrobe has gradually changed. Unconsciously I have transitioned to more classically adult clothing. I’m not wearing what your dad is wearing – I have more style than that; but nor am I wearing what your brother does either. Without knowing it I’ve adapted myself to the times I live in, and the age that I am. I’m not sure what I think about that.

As I realised this I thought again of the Philip Roth novel, Everyman. Everyman is one of those touchstone books for me. Reading it made a big impression upon me, and I find myself regularly reminded of it as I go about my life. My recent surgery, for example, seemed like an episode from the novel – or from the life of any man. And we all know where it ends.

Abruptly I saw myself as I was, rather than the persona I had been projecting. I’m not young anymore. I think I still have the same vagabond spirit, but perhaps I’m coming into an age when my body may not be able to keep up with it as well as it used to. I’m still ambitious, personally assertive, curious, enterprising, confident, and so on. I still enjoy the thought of travel (though perhaps don’t do it as much as I used to), am still greatly attracted to women, and to sex, and am still just as single-minded about it as ever (there are times I wonder if I might not be addicted to it; but equally, I feel that if I meet the mythical ‘right’ woman that I would turn it off like a tap, and give it all to her).

We get carried forward by our self-perception. It informs us of what we are capable of, and what we deserve. It limits or expands our world. And sometimes it tells us where we are.

I feel a kind of wistful regret that my younger self may be gone forever now. I hate it that I can’t compete on the terms I did then, because I am older in body at least. I am like the character in Everyman transiting through the different stages of life, and I have reached another in mine. I’m not Indiana Jones anymore, and never will be again.

My wardrobe now is reflecting this. It’s an expensive wardrobe, more than at any other time of my life, but it’s more about overt style now, and much less about attitude. I’ve always dressed for myself first and foremost. What I’ve realised is that the elements that portrayed attitude before, cool, hip, whatever, are much more muted now. In their place are classical pieces. There’s a glamorous tan, fur lined, hip-length leather jacket much like a movie star might wear going incognito between films. Another is one of those quilted jackets you see in Europe, and the north of Italy particularly, all style. This one is forest green, and made by Beretta, the famous gun-makers. There are shirts from Jermyn Street, hand stitched shoes, the aforementioned suits, and so on.

All of these I love for what they are. I can look upon them, can stroke the fabric and admire the workmanship like a starstruck connoisseur. I like to be seen in them, and they remain reflective of who I am. It’s a different me today though, good or bad I don’t know, but no changing it now.

Going retro

I’m starting to look pretty retro. My hair is full, longish, dare I say it, resplendent: I’ve got curls. Speaking of, there’s a curling seventies style mo too, and a bit of chin hair that makes me look more backwoods than high finance, with the glasses – either dark, rectangular horn rimmed, or thin gold framed – adding an intellectual edge to it. Taken all together I look like a throwback to another era, healthy, hirsute, 1970’s Burt Reynolds, sideburns era. I only need a hairy chest and I could pose in the centre pages of Cleo, fig leaf strategically placed, a knowing, mocking smile on my face.

I sort of like it, and it suits me – I get told that all the time. It suits my general attitude also. Take it or leave it, but this look, that hair, is pretty much an outward projection of an independent state of mind. Short is just too constraining for me, there’s no fucking art in it. It’s anal and repressed and conformist, none of which I believe in.

The science of hair like this fascinates me also. There’s a period when you’re growing your hair long that it looks bloody awful. It’s a sort of in-between phase where your hair isn’t long enough to sit right, but too long to look good. I’ve passed through that stage now, and am start to look ok. Having reached this point I figure that I’ve got to go hard so that I don’t chop out the good stuff in my next cut, like I did last one.

I got my hair cut last about a fortnight after returning from KL. My hair was a disaster area my whole time there, partly because it was in that in-between phase, and more probably because Asia just doesn’t like my hair – it goes big, won’t sit. But two weeks back and in Melbourne’s more temperate climate it was looking swell, then snip go the shears. For a couple of weeks it looked ok, then off it goes, like a garden that needs a weed.

I reckon I’ll get a trim, a tidy up, a couple of weeks before Christmas, as long as it doesn’t get too resplendent before then – I go leonine if not tended properly. Long hair, feels good. Every girl knows that, and some boys to.

Hair down there

English: Different pubic hair styles. The term...

Image via Wikipedia

I write this post with some reluctance. It feels somehow untoward, though it isn’t really. I guess I’m just a bit squeamish writing about these things, but I’ve promised to be up-front, and this is, kinda, interesting.

So, I got given this voucher to a waxing studio. What am I going to do with this were my first thoughts. Other than an abundant head of hair I’m one of those relatively hair-free men. Then of course I realised what the voucher was for and I thought, oh no… Then I thought about it a little. I’d heard stories after all. Curious stories. I tell one girl friend. “I think you should do it,” she says. I tell another. “Really?” she says. “Do it.” Another is ambivalent at first before encouraging: “you have to do it once in your life, if only to know what it feels like to be a woman.” The last is emphatic and enthusiastic. “You must,” she says, then throws in the clincher, “the sex is so much better.”

It was with some trepidation then that I made my appointment. I was curious, a little excited, and a tad fearful. Would it hurt? What would it look like? Do I want a strange woman mucking around in my nether bits? Would I look silly bald? Is it unmanly?

During the course of my consultations with my female friends we had a variety of quite frank conversations about pubic hair. I was surprised and occasionally titillated to hear the details frankly relayed to me. These days it’s almost normal for a woman under a certain age to have some sort of – vaginal grooming? – done. Some have gone the whole way, something I strongly disapprove of as a man. A bald quim is disconcerting and, for me anyway, somehow unerotic. For a start it’s like you’re having sex with a 12 year old (roll on the Google hits with that line). Secondly, I always reckon a little bit of hair is sort of like a place-holder: here it is buster, this is where you should be focussing all your attention. It’s more womanly too, though there is a happy medium – a rampant thicket is hard work as well as unattractive. A mid-bush (a good ‘triangle’, or bikini line per the diagram right) is the best option in my considered, though amateur, opinion, with the key areas conveniently cleared.

In any case, that was pretty much the context of conversations, with some going into technical detail when it came to their own particular circumstances. I learnt a fair bit, though this is probably not the place to be sharing. In every case just about it came back to the male side of the equation, recalcitrant, messy and inconsiderate. If was good for the gander so to speak, then the goose should get his go as well.

And so there I was being ushered into a very surgical looking room by a middle-aged Asian woman. She instructed me to get my gear off basically, keeping my shirt on. Then I had to lay on what was sort of like a mechanised massage table with my bits exposed. I’m long since a modest man, I don’t give a major deal about who sees what, but still it felt strange to be lying there naked from the waist down. It got stranger when she began.

Of course you imagine all sorts of things when you don’t know any better. Like most men I think, I had a fear that the situation might prove to be too much for me. As a man you can control many things, but certainly not all. I didn’t know any better. What if she’s pretty? What is she’s pretty, I’m half naked and she’s working ‘down there’? What if – well, you know, it ‘moves’.

That wasn’t an issue. It’s hard to imagine a less erotic activity with your pants off. For a start the woman was pleasant, but she was middle-aged, blithely chatty, and not likely to feature in my dreams. Further to that she was so matter of fact that it was hard to think anything. I had thought they might attempt some kind of modesty covering, but I guess that’s impractical. Instead she picked me up – there’s no other way of putting it – and flopped me this way or that to get at the places she needed to. She was perfectly at home with me, as if it is something she does every day – which she probably does.

It’s not something I do every day though. At the first touch of warm wax I braced myself for the pain that so many girls had gleefully promised me. That first time it stung a little, and the time after that. You get used to it though, the skin becomes somewhat numb.

The next challenge, to put it bluntly, was the sac. Now that’s an important place to do, but I thought it might tickle a bit. That was not the real issue though as it turned out. More pertinent was the surreal loss of dignity the final phases of the operation inflicted upon me.

I have a theory that women are less sensitive because they are more accustomed to the casual indignities associated with being female, most particularly when it comes to the gynaecological side of things. Men are spoiled. We don’t have that. Generally our biggest fear getting naked is having some dude flick a damp towel at us, or some unkind soul pointing out we might not quite measure up (that may be apocryphal). That’s as bad as it generally gets.

Granted, it’s hard to be dignified when your pants are off and you’re lying prone, but it gets worse. I’m not really disposed to go into the detail, except to say the waxing of the ‘crack’ necessitated acrobatics I’d have preferred not to have performed.

That was it basically. I chose not to go the full Monty, the lawn remains, but the shrubbery is gone. It looks better that way I think, more manly dare I say it, but the working parts are cleared for action.

Will I do it again? Well it depends almost entirely on whether the promised enhanced feeling eventuates, and how enhanced it is. The pain is no big deal, and I guess I could get used to the indignity, but, I don’t really think it’s me.

That’s the story folks. Remind me to tell you about the time I got checked for testicular cancer, now there’s a hoot…

Bears in suits

I can’t remember the last time I wore a tie with a suit. Maybe Melbourne Cup last year? The rare occasions I wear a suit these days it’s generally with a nice shirt, but no tie, which is becoming quite normal. Today though in preparation for an important meeting I figured I had to dress to impress and so on went the tie. Then I looked in the mirror and thought fuck, how times have changed.

I’ve always looked good in a suit. I know it, but I’ve had enough people telling me it over the years that it was never in doubt. I had the build, the look, more than anything else, the utter ease in wearing a well cut suit. Those days are gone. Beautiful suit, lovely shirt, my favourite tie, a cool pair of shoes and it should be the perfect combo. Nup. I looked in the mirror and wondered who that guy was looking back at me. I looked like one of those guys who look uncomfortable in a suit as if they never wear them. You know the type. I looked like a bloody linebacker squeezing into Versace; for the first time I figured that if I’m not already then I’m coming the proverbial bear of a man. Not happy.

Earlier I’d put on a lovely Paul Smith shirt and taken it off again because it was skin tight around my biceps. I’d changed into another shirt with bigger arms thinking already that it wasn’t a good sign. I don’t want to be this big – not that I am really, but too big for anything off the rack. Then there’s my beard these days, which is really only a half beard as much hipster as anything else. Except when I look in the mirror it looks much more rugged than hipster in combination with a suit. I looked like I should be chopping down trees.

As it happened it was no big deal. Had a very good meeting and emerged onto the street with the sun streaming down. I felt buoyant. The sun was a delight. This is life, isn’t it? I wandered down a laneway speaking on the phone. Then I stopped at a small cafe lining up to get a takeaway latte – such a Melbourne ritual. While I waited I realised how much I had missed something as simple as this. Life is really made up of small rituals, but my life has been so variable lately that few rituals have been allowed to develop. The coffee ritual is deep, abiding, and almost universal across the city. Joining in again I remembered how it was and felt again part of the common weal. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

Hopefully it’ll be a while again before I need wear a tie, but I was glad for a while to be part of the team again.

You figure it out

It’s not halfway through the morning and I feel frustrated and dissatisfied.

I was in the city relatively early for a breakfast meeting. Seems like I’m on the train or tram a lot lately at peak hour travelling to or fro with the working commuters with dazed looks on their faces listening to their music shoulder to shoulder with someone doing exactly the same. Doubtless I appeared one of them back in the day, but now it’s novelty for me and I look with a more analytical gaze, as if I have wondered into the Smithsonian and set eyes upon a particular genus of man on display. I listen to my own music and think I’m glad to be out of it.

I was due to meet a character I’ve been trying to meet up with sundry times before. Each time we’ve missed each other for one reason or another, meetings running over time, mix ups with time, unexpected things popping up. Unfortunately it was the same story today. I sat in a cool cafe with a latte and a bowl of porridge waiting for my acquaintance to show. I wasn’t hopeful. I’d had the message as I walked in that he didn’t know if he could make it, and calling him only sent me to his voicemail. I read the paper, I chatted, and made notes in my black book about one the projects I wanted to get up. My demeanor was pleasant, friendly, but inside I was in a turmoil.

Being in my role you need to be patient. I guess that’s true in most walks in life, but perversely it’s truer the more independent you become. I don’t belong in a system anymore and there’s no safety net beneath me should I fall. I can’t afford a misstep. And so that means I’ll very politely accept his apologies and attempt to re-schedule for another time hoping that this time it will actually happen.

I’m not good at supplication, but I’m forever being placed in positions of being the supplicant – I want to do work for people who have to agree for me to do it. This leads to internal conflict and disharmony, and occasionally a sour taste in the mouth. I can manage many of the platitudes and can muster a reasonably agreeable facade, but it shits me to death. I feel bound, like in an old fashioned movie where the villain coils rope around the hero with an evil cackle. This isn’t the movies though and I can’t just magically slip my ties and come to the rescue. No sirree. I wriggle and tease, I resist and protest, for fucks sake people you can’t do this to H. And yet H gets tied up and has to cop it sweet. Yes, yes, yes, I think, quietly seething whilst figuring out what I must do next. Fact of life this and have to deal with it – though a proxy would be nice. Fact is that until you’re top dog everyone has to submit sometime.

Adding to my frustration is the latest romantic pickle I’ve got myself into. Seriously, if word ever got out about my ‘love’ life they could make a reasonably entertaining movie of it, with overtones of Woody Allen.

My problem is that I’m easy to know, but virtually impossible to get into. I work on the general principle that I’m open to pretty well everything. I’ll never say no just about, but I’m just as unlikely to say yes. In this way I find myself sliding into situations I’m not really sure about, but intrigued enough to let them happen. I’m all about the experience after all, and some experiences are mighty – but ultimately most of them peter out before they get to where the other party wants to go because in the meantime I’ve taken a road elsewhere. Frustrating for all concerned when I think about it, but it’s never really as conscious or deliberate as that. I like being engaged, I like doing things, it’s just that when push comes to that final shove I can’t commit to what others want because I don’t feel it as they do.

Anyway, the venue I’d chosen for this mornings meet was a new-ish and tres cool cafe in one of the city laneways. Few weeks back I’d met a girl at a function who worked there as a waitress. I’d known her before from somewhere but never had much to do with her. She remembered me fine though, and ever agreeable to a pretty face and a willing nature I was happy to re-acquaint myself. Since then I’ve bumped into her at a couple of other things and each time she has urged me to come by her cafe. I’ve felt some interest there which has made me typically ambivalent – flattered in some measure, fearful in another, and ultimately intrigued by the whole fucking thing. And so I turned up.

I don’t really know what’s going on, and wonder what she thinks is going on. She stood by my table and talked to me with a big smile on her face as I asked what she’s been up to. She was all surprised and thrilled to see me there, so much so that I wondered if by turning up I had confirmed something I didn’t wish to confirm. I might be a big, worldly bloke, but I can get in a tizz to. When I left she said something about how she was sure we would see each other soon as if it was something written in the stars, or somehow pre-ordained, organised behind my back. I think I had a bewildered look on my face as I left.

I don’t want to give the wrong idea. She’s a nice person, a bubbly and feminine personality who has much to offer, and for all I know may not be offering it – I’m a man after all, and our receiving stations can be all over the place. I just feel a little reserved with her for certain reasons I won’t go into here, and am inclined when someone shows interest to head the other way in a hurry. I know, have to overcome that. In any case, there’s my entrepreneur.

Just to digress for a moment I had a lovely lunch with the entrepreneur last week. She has a lot of energy and enterprise, exhaustively so. We hit it off good, but despite my ardour for her I’ll take it slow. See her tonight I think, and am considering dinner next week at Duck, Duck, Goose, Goose with her, a place I want to check out.

Back to today. I left the cafe having failed to meet and feeling slightly overwhelmed by everything. I stalked the city streets turning those feelings into typical H fodder. I felt aggressive, blunt and driven. I boarded a tram to go home in Collins Street (just about due to create a Tramming category I think), and found a seat in the back. The tram was thick with suits taking the short trip to their snazzy offices at the top end. I cast an eye at them, knowing them, seeing myself in some way in a previous persona.

This persona is different, and is worth noting for posterity. Today was typical for me travelling to the city in the dead of winter, the me I feel pretty much more than most. On my feet I word a pair of brown suede, high-topped lace shoes which count amongst my favourite possessions. I wore a pair of Diesel jeans that have been artfully made to look worn in by some clever contraption that also adds a hundred dollars to the price tag, worn with a belt (always a belt). My shirt was one of my more conservative – dark grey with a thin grey pinstripe running through it, worn untucked. Over that I had slipped on a groovy grey vest that has the look of top shelf felt, a recent acquisition that has become quite a favourite. Over the top of everything I wore the thick black woollen jacket I bought by mail order from the states, boxy, but warmly padded. A hemp bracelet on my right wrist, a Swiss divers watch on my left (one of about 5 watches I swap through), and a rustic ring on a worn leather thong around my neck. Completing the look is groovy facial hair, a pair of rectangular horn rimmed glasses like Buddy Holly would have worn, which somehow sets off my masculine features, and a tumble of lush, wavy reddish-blonde hair in artful disarray. Overall this is the laid-back, tidy, masculine, but bohemian look I feel most comfy with. I love my suits, but I’ve moved on.

That was me then, heading home and peering out the window feeling none of the wry sang froid of my last tram trip home the other night. Shit happens. Just as I got home my phone beeped, a message from another girl I had caught up with last week. She thanked me, said it was fun, then apologised for having been so horny. Seriously. I stared at the phone and shook my head. What next?

This is not me. This is not my brand. Have to get things right way around again, and be the person I aspire to be.

Later: had lunch and coffee with Vinnie again and we talked about all the usual things. As we were leaving the cafe he asked if he should text the girl he was keen on to see whether she was coming back to Melbourne from a trip overseas. “Don’t you know?” I asked him. He shrugged his big shoulders. “Normally I just do it or don’t do it,” he said, “I don’t think about it.” “Well that’s the sign mate that you like her when you start to second guess yourself,” I answered. It was very unlike the cool and very composed Vinnie I had come to know. He shrugged his shoulders again. “Maybe” he said, happy to think it I believe. I told him he should text her, and that I hoped he gives it a go. I think he will.

We parted and I thought on this. I know what he’s going through. I remember the delicious uncertainty of not knowing what to do, the sense of anticipation on hold pending a more definite sign. That’s what I want. That engagement. I want some skin in the game. I thought about a moratorium on my activities as the first drops of rain began to spit down, but that’s just the other extreme. I think I have to just simply remember what I really want, and who I really am, and everything else will sort itself out. If Vinnie can lose his head over a girl, then so can I.

Tailor made man

Single- and double-breasted suit comparisonImage via Wikipedia

Did I ever tell the story about the time I tried to sign-up to eHarmony? I'm a bit of a test junkie and I was intrigued by the notion that they could personality match me to the right woman based on our test results. In actual fact I was – and remain – a bit of a sceptic, and was less interested in finding my mate than seeing what the tests said about me.

So one Saturday afternoon I sat down in front of my PC and for an hour studiously completed the exhaustive list of questions designed to illuminate just who H is. That's when it became odd.

Sure enough I got a bunch of reports back giving insights into different aspects of my personality. I can't remember what they said, but although I was a tad surprised in places I was generally in agreement with what they pronounced, for good and bad. Then I got anm email from eHarmony. Quite amazingly they pronounced they could register me with them as I did not fit into any one of their categories (or words to that effect).

I was flabbergasted. I'm the first, and occasionally the only person to think I'm pretty unique, but this was taking it too far. I didn't know whether to be insulted or flattered. Did it mean I didn't exist? Did it mean I was in my own category of one? How can it be that others have not recorded similar results as me?

I went off in a huff. That was it, eHarmony was shite.

Having established how distinctive my psychology is I can now make the same claim about my physical self.

For most of my adult life I've been possessed of a non-standard build. Not unique maybe, but not run of the mill either. For a lot of years buying a suit generally meant selecting a good sized jacket and matching it with a pair of trousers one size down (when they allowed it). Even then some additional adjusting was generally required.

I've always had big shoulders and chest. Even at my least fit they've been a good bit bigger than my waist. At my fittest the difference is pretty decent, but in recent times it has started to become quite silly.

I've had a problem for a while with business shirts. I like to wear the fitted shirts rather than the old fashioned boxy types. Mostly that's good except I've discovered they can be pretty tight in the forearms. My forearms are pretty big these days and now my biceps, always pretty handy, have swelled to the size of grapefruits. More than not my arms feel pretty tightly constrained.

It doesn't stop there. My recent personal training has made my chest 'prouder' if that makes sense. I fit in the shirt if it's the right size, but my chest stands out. More difficult in suits unfortunately.

I tried on a suit the other day and realised times have moved by me. I seem to have the choice between getting a suit jacket snug to the fit and which just buttons up (awkwardly), or a jacket that buttons up properly but is a bit boxy. Generally I take the fisrt option – I rarely button my jacket up anyway – but it's not entirely satisfactory.

I put the suit back in the rack and left the store, realising that the only real option for me these days is to go tailor made. That's what I am now, tailor made man. (That doesn't mean I'm in super shape – I'm not – I just have a particular build.) Now if only I could get that for my psychology too…


Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Get over it

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30:  Model Andrej...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

There's been a lot of talk lately – and controversy – about someone called Andrej Pejic. Andrej is a local boy from one of the tougher parts of town how has somehow transcended his background to become an international fashion model of some repute (modelling for Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris no less). What is remarkable – and controversial – about Andrej is that he models as a woman.

As a male he is striking in a pale, androgynous way. As a women he is beautiful. Unsurprisingly the mere existence of a cross-dressing model has caused ructions in certain circles. It's hard for many to separate themselves from the black and white views of conventional culture. Is it a he? A she? What does it mean? For many it's a very unsavoury proof of the degeneration of society.

I take a different view, as do many others more enlightened. It's comforting to label things; once labelled much of the world slides easily into our personal taxonomy. Labels are just words though, loose definitions of what has come before. Male, female, boy, girl, these are the generic terms we've come to describe human life. It's not as simple as that though, as we know, even if many wish it were. A label is a word; people are individuals. It's individuality that is really important.

Society has come a long way in its general acceptance of what was once described as 'queer'. It's not universal and it never will be, but it is much more widespread than it was 20 years ago. Surprisingly the acceptance of someone like Pejic is much more contentious now than it was in the less enlightened days of the eighties when, nonetheless, the androgynous look embodied by the likes of Boy George, Marilyn, and many others were defining looks of the decade.

I grew up through that period and never cottoned on to the look, nor indeed the music – it was not my style. And in truth I probably looked down my nose a little at the likes of Boy George because his appearance and behaviour seemed beyond my comprehension – a sports loving rocker as I might have been described then.

I'm more mature now and live in a more mature, sophisticated and enlightened society. I'm the antithesis of the androgynous look – broad shouldered, muscular and masculine – but that doesn't prevent me from being sympathetic to Pejic and the others following in his wake – and indeed anyone who chooses a different path. You respect the individual, not judge the stereotype.

Pejic for his part appears to be an intelligent, resilient character aware of the controversy he creates, but seemingly above it. In all I have seen and read of him he seems to act with an amused and easy detachment, gracious and dignified. Does dressing up in women's clothes make him gay? Does it matter? Of course not (for all I know he's a raving pantsman). In fact in some small way it highlights the silliness and hypocrisy of much of society. Being gay is no big deal. The same people who watch a gay model parading a mens suit down the catwalk frown when a man parades instead in a dress. Being gay is no big deal if you conform. Being gay and dressing like a girl is for some going too far.

I applaud him. We have to get over these silly prejudices. Andrej Pejic is going his own way and all power to him.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Keeping myself warm

Wore my black woollen P coat into the city for the first time this year last night, and had porridge for breakfast this morning – sure sign that things are cooling down.

It’s actually a very pretty day today, as it has been for a few days. But though it was close to 30 earlier in the week the weather is cooler, more chill. I ummed and ahhed about my jacket last night, but was grateful to be wearing it as darkness came and the temperature plunged from tolerable to cool.

Last night was another night out, with another girl. Didn’t have high expectations, but was glad to be pleasantly surprised. My date was a ballsy type with an interest in politics, current affairs and the arts. We had a good conversation over a glass or two at Von Haus before I insisted I needed something to nibble on, whereupon we crossed the road to The Mess Hall. All good.

Got home to find another had been attempting to contact. I’m really experiencing a golden age right now – or is it a renaissance? In any case pretty girls are popping out of the woodwork all over town, with a more than usual amount thinking I’m pretty swell. I can live with that. I’m having fun and, if I work it right, potentially a lot of fun.

Hopefully I might settle down with one of these, but I’m not rushing into anything. I’ll see the other petitioners, if only for potential friendship (seriously). Besides, it keeps me warm as the winter months close in.

It’s really been a great run for the last 6 months…