Who's Looking Back In the Mirror
|by Larry Nixdorf|
|Was he too pretty? While standing in line at a popular outlet clothing store, I couldn't help but notice one of the cashiers. A young man who was PERFECTLY groomed, coiffed and put together from head to toe. Heck, he was prettier and better styled than a Miss Gay America contestant!
I stood mesmerized by his sparkling bleached white teeth, flawless skin, and hair so sculpted numerous "products" must have been used to create the work of art that sat on top of his head. The young man's clothes were so carefully pressed with creases so sharp I thought he might get a paper cut, or would that be a clothes cut? Of course my gaydar was off the chart as I watched him carefully, yet listlessly, complete sales transaction after sales transaction and I soon began to wonder...could he could be an example of Extreme Grooming? Could he be taking his personal grooming and appearance habits past the simple high homosexual standards, past the metrosexual standards? Could he possibly be a Metro-Ho?
As I waited patiently in line staring in adoration, jealousy or just disbelief that someone could be so perfectly put together, I began to question if I actually am maximizing my own looks? I quickly caught a glance of my 40 something self in one of the many store mirrors. Wearing a simple ringer t-shirt and madras shorts, were my clothes properly pressed? Were my nails manicured? Skin properly moisturized? Did I even use mouthwash this morning?
But I wasn't alone. A careful inspection of the other customers in the store proved that there were very few others who were put together well enough that they would have been properly attired to dash off to a tea dance. I began to wonder, has the general public lost their desire for an acceptable appearance?
I fondly recall an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy has a loving cup wedged onto her head. Needing the help of partner in crime Ethel, Lucy must go on the subway downtown to have the cup removed. Hearing that she must go on the train with Lucy, Ethel quickly runs off to her apartment to change as she would never be caught dead wearing her dungarees on the subway! I always found that scene amusing but wonder what happened to the time when a better dress code was not only expected but required. Somehow I could not imagine Fred with his jeans hanging off his hips exposing his boxer brief underwear, nor do I think I would want to.
Memories of my childhood remind me of my Mother always changing her clothes and fixing her hair to shop at the local grocery store. After all, you never know who you might bump into. But as I weave my cart through the aisles of processed food at my local grocer, I am not sure if the other shoppers were confused when dressing and somehow thought they might end up in a gym rather than a grocery store. How did we go from a dress accessorized with pearls to sweat pants with hair styled by a rubberband? Where is June Cleaver when we need her?
Perhaps the airbrushed, flawless celebrities we see in magazines seem so perfect that many of us realize we could never reach that level of appearance perfection and therefore don't even try. But with the use of HD television, it is giving us a more realistic view of the "pretty people" now that every line, wrinkle, blemish and extra pound can be seen. The difference however, is that the people on TV are still dressing well, using "product" to diminish every imperfection and are trying to use what they have available to look as good as they can. So why aren't we all using what we have available?
I have always followed the expression, "you can't buy style off the rack" but if one dresses and grooms to their best ability, the style and confidence will just appear. This couldn't be more evident than in the movie, Sex and the City. The women are somewhat older, more experienced, but more fabulous than ever. However, without the beautiful couture, perfectly applied makeup, and perfectly clipped hair, they would just be the gals in sweats who you see at the market. Somehow the cocktail swirling SJP fabulousness would be lost, sans make-up and Dior.
So maybe what is old should be new again. Maybe it is time to go back in time when fashion and appearance ruled. If Carson Kressley can pull a look together and look hip and glam, why can't I? Suddenly, a wave of inspiration overtook me to step up and check twice in the mirror before leaving the house and to take the time to put on something fabulous so I feel fabulous.
Within those few minutes while waiting in line to make my purchase, I realized the young metro-ho gave me more encouragement than he will ever know. As it came time for my turn at the register, I watched him complete my transaction with about as much interest as I have in attending a Jonas Brothers Concert. If only he knew how he has inspired me to make the mirror my friend and to spend a bit more time at the Clinique counter. However, underneath the fashion labels, product and accessories I guess we are all the same. I had to smile to myself as he stepped back from the counter and exposed his one and only flaw...guess sooner or later we all forget to zip up.
Larry Nixdorf lives in Easton, Pennsylvania and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 10 July 25, 2008