Wednesday, February 26, 2003

A Well-Respected Man About Town

You can tell just from looking at this guy's clothes that he has money. It's the way that the colors are muted, dyed in color lots that the cheapo stores will never see, strange mutations of grey and green and beige and more grey that are not quite colors that you can name, and they look different depending on which light you see them under. The kind of material that is decorated not with graphic design, but my minute changes in texture. That kind of clothing.

It's not just the clothes, though. It's the clothing in combination with the shoes, haircut, manicured nails and a certain way of carrying himself that say that this guy has money. He's probably always had money, because he doesn't go for the obvious display of status symbols that the newly monied favor, but opts instead for the subtle, "I've always had style and class" way.

I kind of like that style, even though it's a world away from my own. White trash/working class style was always closer to my own way, even though at various times in my life I'd desperately wanted to know how to copy that muted on muted look. I remember my brother buying me a Gucci handbag while on a cruise. At first, I loathed the thing. What the hell was I supposed to do with this, wear it around with my rock 'n' roll t-shirts and my jeans? I'd feel like a total ass. I decided to hold onto the thing for special occasion wear, like at weddings and such. But my brother's feelings were hurt that I didn't want to use it for everyday, so I relented and carted the thing around. What an education that was. Suddenly, the appraising eyes of saleswomen lighting up at the sight of my Gucci bag was a far cry from the usual treatment in department stores. Amazing what a handbag can do. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth for the power of status symbols, and the type of person whose opinion of others was determined by their presence... or more to the point, the lack thereof. Fuck you, stuck up department store saleswoman, if all of a suddent the presence of this rather ugly handbag makes you find me more acceptable. Fuck you and the hundreds more like you.

Which brings me back to the guy with the money clothes. With a feeling of self-loathing, I felt myself being seduced by the muted tones, the tone on tone, the slight variations in texture from the shirt to the sweater to the jacket, not to mention the overall good grooming and the smell of good breeding. I admired the way he got out of his car and swung his jacket over his shoulder, just like he stepped out of one of those swinging cigarette commercials before television stopped showing them. He seemed so confident and cool, nothing could touch this guy's cool.

I happened to follow him into the Starbucks, because that was where I was heading in the first place. He stood right in front of me on line, ordering his fancy coffee drink, and I noticed that his voice carried no hint of the heavy regional accent that had tarnished so many of us. While deciding exactly how much foam I wanted on my drink, a feeling of unease came over me, and my attention was brought back to the man in front of me, the muted tone on tone man, who had begun raising his voice at the sweet-faced teenage girl behind the counter. Brazenly eavesdropping intently at this point, I quickly figured out that Mr. Polished was berating this young girl to within an inch of her life over some small infraction, a minor detail in his order. Yes, customer service is diminishing in America faster than the number of manatees in Florida, but the way this guy was carrying on was akin to a mental patient figuring out that he wasn't going to get to see Judge Wopner on time. Although I'm quite sure that the impending war, the national debt and cancer were all her doing, the way he was freaking out on this poor girl was embarrassing. Embarrassing for HIM, it should be made clear.

Funny how this incredible fit of pique over a coffee house drink made Mr. Polished turn into Mr. Scumbag Monster in the time it would've taken for the girl to simply re-froth his drink, or whatever the trouble was. I felt sorry for the girl, being dressed down by this imbecile for such a minor thing, even though I really should've felt sorry for Mr. Pathetic Anger Issues. Mr. I'm So Important, You Are Here To Serve ME, And Be Quick About It. And although the counter help remained completely professional in their behavior, even after he left, I hope that it made things a little better for her when I made them laugh by saying all the things about him that they would've liked to. As I belittled him for their amusement, we all watched through the plate-glass storefront window as he got into his car, illegally parked in the handicapped spot in front of the Starbuck's.

Handicapped more than he'll ever know.

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