Thursday, April 24, 2014

In your Easter bonnet

Anybody who knows me also knows that "fashion" is not exactly my middle name.
Not even close.
But recently, I took a page from Star Courier column boss Rocky Stuffelbeam's book of fashion and adopted a certain look for those now-and-then days when I am most unreasonably expected to display  something besides the usual sweatshirts and khakis (fall and wintertime) or t-shirts and shorts (spring and summer) that pass for sartorial finery in my world.
I bought a bow tie.
It's not the first one I've owned. I made a couple of antique/junk shop purchases a few years ago and manfully worked to learn how to tie them. Then, more recently, when browsing through a european-based Michigan Avenue shop while in Chicago for a doctor visit, I saw a nice looking little on-sale number that was somewhere between the traditional tie-it-yourself models and those nifty clip-on jobs most guys mother's dolled them out in back when they were about three or so.
"Hmmm," I thought. "Maybe this would distract them from my head."
The noggin in question is the shockingly bald pate I've been displaying ever since chemotherapy left me as fuzzy as a Georgia peach. We had plans to attend a fun family wedding up in Wisconsin, and I was most anxious to look a little more dashing than Tooter Turtle, the 50s television star I most closely resemble currently.
Enter the bow tie.
I wore it to the wedding and felt pretty satisfied with the impression it made, as no one screamed or fainted or laughed or otherwise reacted in the ways I've become accustomed to ever since I dropped a cool 40 pounds or so and my hair went south.
My next "dress-up" occasion was Easter Sunday.
It appears that the custom of wearing new clothes at Easter is an old one. One explanation I liked noted that the newly baptized would wear white clothing throughout the entire Easter Week as a symbol that the waters of their baptism had cleansed them from all sin.  Other Christians would dress in new clothing to show that they, too, had risen to a new life in Christ.  This became an outward sign of one's faith and participation in the dying and rising of Our Lord.
But the old tradition of new clothing for Easter is one that seems to have faded away nowadays. I didn't see a single Easter Bonnet at Mass on Sunday morning.
Well, maybe one.
Or three, in fact.
Because besides the aforementioned bow tie that I sported, my two young grandsons had colorful ties of their own. They were the traditional stripy neckties that look so darn cute on little boys, though the combination of them and white shirts made the grandma-lady and me a little nervous as we tried to keep them away from the basketball court, the soccer ball and the half-burned leaf pile in the backyard while everyone else in the house was spiffing up for church. I was a lector for the morning Mass, and had to head in a little early to make sure the Old Testament reading didn't have any of those unpronounceable names--like Tilgathpilneser, Berodachbaladan or Chushanrishathaim--that are so tough for those of us who don't know scripture as well as we should. So it was determined that grandma and the boys would go with me in order to stay relatively clean, and to find a seat in what was bound to be a crowded church. Just before we headed for the door, I happened to glance at one of the bookcases in the little room off our front hall that serves as a combination office and den. Up on the very tippy-top of one of the cases were three straw hats of the style commonly called "pork pie," with jolly red, white and blue bands. My brother gave us those hats a couple of summers ago when we were all gathered together for a happy family gathering to celebrate my sister and her husband's birthdays and wedding anniversary. I've always liked them and wished I could find an excuse to wear them again.
Like Easter Sunday.
Quick as you can say "where'd you get that hat?" the two little fashion plates and I were suitably topped off as we headed down the front porch steps.
"Let me get a picture," said my shutterbug spouse.
Before I could protest, she aimed her iPhone at me and the natty duo, and captured the moment in time.
Now, I'm not especially crazy about any of the photos taken of me ever since I attained my current skinny, bare-headed state. But thanks to the outfits, and, especially, the two grinning little boys, I was adequately distracted from my own decrepit appearance.
In other words, even I liked it. And that's saying something.
Later, she posted the picture on Facebook, and based on the number of "likes" it gathered, it seems I'm not the only one who thinks the pic is O.K..
I think I know why.
The ties and the hats and the boys are pretty cute, and pretty cool, too.
But the memory is, well, darn near priceless.

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