As a retired Southern gentleman, who was educated at a large university, I recently noted that my sartorial splendor has fallen short, of late, of a man of my lofty position -- which is brow-beaten and in debt. Translation -- I need some better clothes.
In my early life my fabric of choice was denim -- as in the kind they use to make overalls. Osh-Kosh was my preference but in reality, whatever White's had on sale was what I wore. As I graduated to pants that required a belt to stay up, I switched to whatever Bobby Smith talked me into putting on my mama's charge account -- again, at Whites.
During my college years I wore a lot of polyester, and never once gave any thought whatsoever to how many polyesters had to die for me to have a new shirt, or suit or pair of pants, any more than I worried about how many naugas gave their lives for our naugahyde furniture.
After college, when I realized that synthetic fibers, along with cheap foreign labor and lack of protective tariffs, had doomed the American cotton textile industry, I vowed to give up those fabrics completely and for the past 30 years ain't no poly ever crossed my back -- at least not as I'm aware. I buy cotton khakis and cotton shirts and an occasional wool or silk blend.
In other words, I haven't changed my wardrobe in a long, long time. But as of late I have given much consideration to elevating my rather stodgy choice of clothing. In the words of the great John Fraley of Georgia basketball fame -- or was it infamy? -- I'm thinking about bringing out my game.
There a couple of reasons for this change in attitude concerning my fashion choices. For one thing, I go to church with Carter Rogers and he is always resplendent in his attire. Colorful slacks, charmingly loud sports coats and perfectly tied bow ties -- week in and week out. He thinks he's Judge David Irwin, I believe. Plus, a couple of weeks ago his elegant and posh daughter, Reynolds, gifted me with a classic Southern bow tie of my own, on behalf of herself, her sister, Sara Catherine and her twin brothers, Perry and Hinton. I couldn't wear such a magnificent garment with my stained khakis and short sleeve "dress shirts."
I made the decision then and there to do two things. First and foremost I would learn to tie the bowtie, which turned out to be a greater challenge than I had anticipated. Secondly, I would become this generation's Rhett Butler by Memorial Day -- or if not Rhett Butler, at least Atticus Finch. OK. Would you believe Matlock?
And to confirm my decision, a couple of weeks later I attended an event at the Athens YMCA, at which Bobby Poss was the emcee. He had on a coat of many colors that Joseph would have been proud to wear and of which Dolly Parton would have been happy to sing. That settled it! I was going shopping.
I am happy to report that I now own a seersucker suit, a peach-colored blazer, a multi-colored sports coat that is two sizes too large, which I bought off a clearance rack at a price too low to pass up (I'll grow into it), several pairs of cuff links and long sleeve shirts with cuffs to match, two pairs of suspenders and a pair of white bucks that I bought online at Nordstrom's for more money than I paid for my last four pairs of shoes combined.
I am set for summer -- almost. The one thing I haven't been able to find is a pair of white linen pants -- at least not in my size. I need those white linen pants -- and perhaps a nice fedora -- to complete my new look. I can't find them anywhere -- not for a fat man like me.
I was in St. Simon's a couple of weeks ago, speaking to a gathering of Clerks of Court, and went into a number of high-end shops which I felt certain could accommodate my needs. They had white pants, too -- of every description. But not, alas, of every size. I began to realize that these pants were intended to be worn by younger men with slimmer bodies and smaller waists.
I dropped by to see Wayne Dean and he offered to call up Omar the Tent Maker and have him sew me up a pair and ship them right to my door within 48 hours. I should have taken him up on it. I was certain I could find a pair somewhere. I was wrong.
So I'm not exactly svelte! Where does it say that a fat guy can't look good, too.
Oh, well. I haven't given up. I have visited 11 brick and mortar establishments and 32 online sources and am yet to find a pair of 38-30 white linen pants with a stretch waist that expands to 41 inches, but I'm going to keep looking. And if I fail? Well, Osh-Kosh, I know, makes my size. Where is it written that a Southern gentleman can't wear a bowtie and seersucker jacket with a pair of new overalls?
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.