Fashion Disasters

I am so behind on this, but of course it’s not that big a deal, so I’ll answer the question that Laura asked now:

Think back to the 80’s and early 90’s – which were your five absolute worst fashion disasters? Do you have any photographs from that period, and most importantly, will you share them?

Well, choosing any five given moments is pretty difficult, given that my life was kind of a continual fashion disaster from the first time I wore clothes until the eighth grade—which would be, let’s see, about the eighth grade, yeah. That was when suddenly I was saying, “No, I won’t wear that, Mom.”

But let’s see, five answers. Okay, I think I got it:

  • My hair. For the longest time, my Mom cut my hair. Now, we were not that well off, and I understand that it was cheaper to cut my hair at home. Still, it wasn’t like we were so poor we couldn’t afford home perms for my sisters—to which the prices for cheap professional haircuts for men, I finally got my folks to realize, were basically incomparable. The worse disaster than how I looked was how I felt, of course. The nicks in my ears, my mom wrenching my neck when I turned or tilted a little. She hated giving those haircuts as much as I hated receiving them, and I wish she’s never had to do it. But man, the day afters, at school, were hard.

    Ah well, I look at it as character-building. People who’ve never had a bad home haircut, I think, probably end up as shallow soulless bastards. Yeah, that’s it.

    I don’t have any pictures of those haircuts, by the way, and no scars remain in my ears, but I did avoid getting my hair cut, successfully, for about a year in high school. I think I have a pic online of that… uh, nope. Not now. Maybe someday again it will come.

  • The pants level. For some reason, in elementary school, I developed a weird comfort level with pants. Maybe it was because I still had a bit of curve in my hips or something, I don’t know, but I pulled my pants up higher than most people would be comfortable wearing. To me, it seemed that pants ought not to be so loose in the groin as most of my hand-me-down clothes ended up being, so of course I pulled them up.

    I’m not sure but I think I’ve destroyed almost all evidence of this. Yes, I did try to.

  • In Korea these days, girls are wearing a lot of military-looking stuff. You see a lot of girly clothes with camo print. You know, camophlage, except that looks misspelled. IT’s one of those words I never learned to spell, because except for a few months in the summer of, I think it was 1989, I’ve always know this was a ridiculous, stupid fashion. Okay, sometimes it looks okay on girls, but on a fat teenage boy with crossed eyes, dying of asthma attacks and running from bullies who call him Hawkeye, it’s a bloody dumb way to dress. No evidence, I’m afraid.
  • This one was the concert band’s fault. In my second-last year of high school, I wasn’t really fat. But you see, the jazz band had a uniform, and only a limited number of available ones. And the biggest guy in the band, a huge guy named Curtis Roberts, had been baritone sax man for a year or two before I showed up. He had the XL size pants, so I go the L-sized ones and dibs on the XLs for 12th grade. Well, the L-size was flat-out too small but the band teacher wasn’t about to try get another pair of pants for me because we only wore the uniforms a few times a year.

    And what uniforms they were. Pinstriped grey pants, white frilly tuxedo shirts, and cummerbunds. No jackets, but black bowties and, if we were coordinated enough, matching black shoes and socks (“NO RUNNERS!” was stressed to us as part of the jazz band dress code).

    Let me tell you, I stood up more than once a concert to play a solo, and my friends informed me after the first show that my “uniform” didn’t leave much to the imagination. How incredibly backward and stupid and bad. But ah, the joy of inheriting those XL pants… nothing was sweeter than that, for me.

  • Warning to Keisha, please swallow whatever you’re drinking before you read this last one.

    My best friend in high school, Mike, was a black guy. He and I had a running joke about how ironic it was that I was the one born in Malawi, and he in… was it Liverpool? I think, or Manchester maybe. Anyway, he used to buy some “brother gear” downtown, I think at the one shop where black guys could get their hair properly done (they were a minority in Saskatoon). The hair sported some special hair products, and other fashion accessories.

    Including leather Afrika pendants. Now, you remember these things. They were the kinds of things lots of black musicians in the 80s and 80s and 90s wore. The two he bought one fine day in December were black leather and had multicolored Africas visible at the center: red, yellow, and green.

    He wore one and I wore the other. For months and months on end. And whenever anyone asked me why the fuck I was wearing an Afrika pendant, I’d sneer at him and ask him if he knew where Malawi was, and say, “Not all of us were born in Saskatoon, moron,” or something like that. I wore it when I played jazz music (after, white boy playing jazz with only white and Chinese kids can sometimes develop a bit of a race-identity crisis) and for any other event for about a year there.

    At some point I also wore one of those rastafarian hats for a year or so… I mean every day, and it was the same colors. I believe there is in fact no evidence of this either.

Well, that’s that… unfortunately, I have no pictures of any of that. No yearbooks, only a few photos from the time before I came to Korea. Sometimes, an expat’s life can be one cut off from the past. No question that I enjoy that part of it. But it does make providing pics a little hard. Maybe one of my family members might cough up a nasty photo or two, though, if they read this and feel like it. I promise to post it if one of them does send me one.

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