"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Falling Out of the Closet By Accident
im-pres-sion Function: noun
1 a : a characteristic, trait, or feature resulting from some influence b : an effect of alteration or improvement c : a telling image impressed on the senses or the mind
2 : an often indistinct or imprecise notion or remembrance
3 : What another person immediately forms upon encountering you
"People always form the wrong impression about me. They think I'm a dyke. I'm not, I just seem to have ended up looking like one," my friend told me last night. "Every time I go somewhere with a few of my friends, people think that about us. I just like being with my friends."
Aside from the fact that my friend is selling herself really short here, I can see where she is coming from.
At present, my friend is a bit overweight, has her hair cropped very short (feminine, mind you, but short nonetheless) and wears little if any makeup. She also has had some really bad experiences with the men in her life, and as a result is very distrustful of the entire male gender.
To her, this feels like it comes across wrong, placing her in a group where she does not belong. Notice, I said "to her," because she never gave me that impression whatsoever.
But, you know, like it or not we all wear uniforms. Every one of us.
Personally, I know that if I don't shave, wear a dirty T-shirt and jeans, some old tennis shoes and walk into a store, I will have trouble getting waited on, particularly in a "nice" store. Unless of course, they want to hustle me out before the other customers see me.
On the other hand, if I dress well, groom myself properly and put on a Brooks Brother's suit, they will climb all over me as soon as I walk in.
Something as simple as a little ring of metal stuck through your lip can completely change people's perception of you.
If I were to put on a woman's blouse, toss a large amount of makeup on my face, and take a bath in Georgio (I'm actually describing a person I met once here) should I be offended if people think that I am not attracted to women but am more likely to be on the prowl for the next unattached guy with eye shadow? No. I've put on a uniform, and I shouldn't be surprised when people act on it.
"Hi, I'm Cliff, and I'm an alcoholic." I've never actually been to a AA meeting (and am not an alcoholic, by the way,) but how many of us do pretty much this same sort of thing when we get dressed and walk through our front door?
Ladies, put on a housedress in some awful design, put your hair in curlers, toss on a pair of two dollar flip flops and go to the grocery store. Can we spell "housewife"?
Guys, toss on a pair of Bermuda shorts and a flowered shirt, grab a wide brimmed hat with a rubber flamingo head poking out of the brim...can we spell "tourist"?
Girls, get some really low slung jeans, a really high cut blouse with a plunging neckline, wear a bit too much eye shadow, preferably dark, and some high heels...can we spell "sexually available"?
Men and women, put on a really nice tailored suit, some conservative shoes, a businesslike hairstyle, and grab a briefcase...can we spell "successful businessperson"?
Uniforms are the unspoken communication that allows us to bypass so much of the initial information gathering when people meet. What takes thirty minutes to an hour in an online chat room to find out about each other can be passed in an instant with our appearance and presentation.
Think of it as a game.
The problem arises when a person doesn't play the game. That screws things up really bad.
A couple of days ago, I saw a young black man walking down the sidewalk in a strip mall. He had on basketball pants, a huge T-shirt, and his hair, which was long, was gathered up in a sort of pony tail thing that stuck out from the center of the back of his head, ballooning into a "poof" of hair that was as large as his head. The look was completed by the placement of a black plastic hair pick in the poof.
He looked totally ridiculous.
And, I'll bet you ten to one that he would complain about not "getting and respect." I wonder why?
No matter how smart he is, no matter how well spoken, his uniform says one thing: here is a man who is not smart enough to see the rules and play by them to get ahead.
So, what about my friend with the wrong message? Another friend counseled her to go get some nice "girly" clothes, go get a makeover with a hair style, makeup, the works, and go out clubbing.
You go, grrl.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)