I ate at Olympia Kabob House, went to Starbucks and just before passing out in a food coma for 2 hours, I noticed a goth kid dressed in black, tatted up with a mohawk spiked literally 2 feet high sipping on a cappucino. And I thought, “Oh yeah dude, punk rock is alive and well at corporate coffee.”
When I awoke 2 hours later, the sight was still fresh in my mind. What would possess this kid to fuck himself up so unfashionably and yet, still be seen at a lame coffee house like Starbucks. I mean, if he really did carry the “fuck you” attitude he seems to represent to the world, I would think he’d be at some indie coffee house or not at one at all.
Did he dress like that to convey an attitude? Or was he just screaming for attention; to be not just another nameless face in Santa Generica of Southern California? It really boils down to those two facts. I mean who REALLY feels comfortable in a 2 foot high spiked mohawk? There is one other remote possibility and that was he was in some sort of theatrical performance and he was in costume, but I highly doubt it.
I then started to wonder about my own question, and subsequent answer. And I think I found it in looking at my own history.
In high school, I had jock itch. So, I turned to sweatpants. It wore them EVERY day and had them in EVERY color because quite simply, they didn’t press on m groin and cause a grotesque amount of itching. I never told anyone that because it was embarrassing. But the sweats took an already out of step kid and made him that much more out of step. It was my equivalent of a spiked mohawk. The sweats came in wild colors of magenta, neon blue and on days of malaise, flourescent 80s green. Saying I cast myself out of social centers was an understatement.
Then came the true height of the 80s. I remember one summer, I vowed to get in step with the fashions; to not be the outcast I was setting myself up to be. I went to Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ and invested a heap of Roy Rogers Fast Food and Family Restaurant wages into truly horrific fashion choices. I became a parody of the 80s, not an icon of it. Donned in parachute pants, a shirt like Michael Jackson’s in his “Thirller” video and a belt that wrapped twice around me with “stylish” holes all along its 3 foot length, I entered 11th grade feeling like I was going to be the ultimate fashion plait. It lasted all of about 3 days as I remember the parachute pants were making my nuts a scratching post as the heat from the vinyl would make a tropical depression down in my nether region transform into a category 5 hurricane. So it was back to the sweats.
In college, I entered the 5th largest university as a nameless face, so I turned to a multi colored plaid golf hat which I wore everywhere. I probably looked like a first rate tool trying to be someone amongst the masses.
By the time my 3rd year of college came, I had lost my identity entirely and decided to have a makeover from a friend who claimed he was a great surfer. I should have known better when I realized he was from Wisconsin, but I threw better judgement to the wind and donned Vision sneakers, surfer Ts and board shorts and a visor. A VISOR!!!! What the fuck was I thinking? I CAN’T EVEN SWIM! And I was dressing like a surfer? I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pool, let alone in a place with waves! That lasted about 5 months before I realized that my nuts didn’t itch as much as they once did and so I was able to start wearing “normal” clothes.
So I guess what it all boiled down to was a lack of identity, lack of confidence in who I was since I had no idea who I was and a desire to cause attention to myself in order to give meaning to a pretty meaningless existence. I purposely outcast myself in a weird self fulfilling prophecy that I would always be on the outside looking in and made myself ostracized to the masses.
Now, I am 42. I can honestly say that that phase has passed. The fashion choices I make now are just plain BAD. Too baggy of pants, old men shirts and lames shoes. But the worst part is, my ignorance stems from the fact that I just don’t know what looks good or modern. So, with Hilda’s help, she discarded literally 85% of my wardrobe (her “OUT” she would shout as I showed her each article of clothing still rings in my head) and today, I am off to replenish some of the flotsam and jetsam of my bad fashion sense. Let’s hope she knows what she’s doing.