To be truthful, I'm not entirely unhappy about the fact that our current living situation has kept us kind of out of touch, though there have been times when I feel a little sheepish about all the things I don't know about.
We don't have a TV here on the beach, nor do we receive a regular daily newspaper. We listen to a lot of radio, especially the in-depth reporting on National Public Radio, but not, perhaps, very intently, since I'm often too distracted by the wild, wonderful things going on outside my window to listen as closely as I might otherwise. There's not much breaking news in the Island histories I've been reading, nor in the stacks of other novels and biographies I've been trying to plow through. I use the internet to peruse www.starcourier.com every day, but my main interest is in the "back home" news and sports it provides, rather than world and national reports. And when we do pick up one of the weekly newspapers published in the nearby beach towns, the stories tend to revolve around locally interesting stuff like the fact that the mullets (the fish, not the haircut) are running, tide tables, good deals at the ice cream place, and whether the weather will turn warm enough to attract a few new tourist dollars soon.
I guess our rather benign approach to what's going on in the rest of the world has been a little embarrassing to me because I am supposed to be a journalist of sorts. We were at least a couple of days late learning about the wide-spread unrest in the Middle East, and the demonstrations over the unconscionable decisions made by the governor of Wisconsin were well underway before I was clued up to what was happening.
But it gets even worse, because, heck, I almost missed the hoodarf.
For those of you who are uniformed (many of you, I'd wager) or uninterested (most of you, I bet), the hoodarf is a combination hood and scarf, and one of the hottest new accessories featured at New York Fashion Week several days ago. According to the reports I read, three different top designers sent male models down the runway sporting hoodarfs, which, to my untrained eye, look like some kind of long furry creature bent on strangling and/or sucking the brains out of the rugged, moody, yet unbelievably handsome guys who wore them.
Now. anyone who has seen me dress has probably already figured out that I'm not particuarly influenced by the ideas and creations of the New York fashion community. I've been rotating through an identical-looking series of comfortable khaki pants for as long as I can remember, replacing them with an equally similar set of shorts once the weather warms up a little. My cool weather socks-and-sandals combination alternately amuses and dismays the more fashion-consious members of my tribe, with a disreputable collection of sneakers my year-round alternative when snow flies or rain falls. My shirts, t-shirts and sweaters reach retirement age only when my wife spirits them out of my closet and quietly bags them up for a trip to Goodwill, while even my wildly patterned reading glasses, which some might consider an attempt at a fashion statement, are actually dollar store refuges that I choose because they're easier to find when I set them down.
But this hoodarf thing has got me thinking. Thinking that, once again, I missed the boat and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be rich and famous.
You see, ingenious, combination-style, cold-weather wear is nothing new for us Sloans.
When son Colin was a young lad, nothing we could do would convince him to remember and wear a pair of gloves, except for extreme activities like hockey and snowball-making. Instead, he would simply pull the sleeves of his baggy, oversized sweatshirts over his hands, giving birth to what we called--and still call-- "sloves."
That's right, sloves, a combination of sleeves and gloves, that were warm, versatile and never left behind in the school lost-and-found box. Had we found the resources and determination to fully develop and market this handy (pun intended) garment, we might now own North Topsail Beach, instead of being precarious renters in our semi-shabby beach digs. Instead, we were, as our family saying goes, "too cheap to be rich," a malady that has never seemed to befall the likes of Thomas Edison, Ron Popeil or any of those New York fashion mavens.
Now, another big-time opportunity has appeared on our horizon.
It happened one coolish morning, when one of us was wearing a new pair of those flannel pajama pants that look so warm and inviting, especially when encountered on a rack marked "clearance." Apparently, I wasn't wearing a pair of wildly patterned reading glasses when I chose them, and so, ended up with a size and length more appropriate for an NBA power forward than for my own shrimpy stature.
"Hey, nice slocks," she said, noting that the overlong pantlegs were neatly covering my bare feet.
Yes, slocks, a combination of slacks and socks, are the new thing for fashionistas on New River Inlet Road.
I haven't got around to wearing them in public, though I did let a pair of baggy sweatpants kind of sag around my blue-tinted feet after a chilly wading session on the beach the other day.
And now that I've let the cat out the bag, chances are, some better-financed uptown designer will probably beat me to the punch come next Fashion Week.
But remember, you heard it here first.
Back to the news.
No big shock that things have gotten kind of dicey in places like Egypt and Libya. In fact, the only real surprise to me is that it took so long.
But the whole Wisconsin thing is a different situation altogether.
It doesn't matter, in my opinion, how you feel about today's unions. It doesn't even matter if you think it's right or wrong for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to cut retirement and healthcare for workers like teachers and nurses, and strip away nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.
But when he announced that he had alerted the National Guard to be ready for state workers to strike or protest, things got downright scary.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, the right to refuse, the right to bargain and the right to be heard are the very things that set us apart from some of those other bastions of personal freedom.
I honestly don't know what Governor Walker is thinking. But I do know it's been chilly in Wisconsin.
Perhaps his brain is cold.
Maybe he needs a hoodarf.