A special thanks to Blue Shepard for allowing me to publish his weekly e-newsletter here on Vigilant Wolf. The Blue Shepard is a friend and past guest of Ever Vigilant podcast (episode 43). I personally look forward to his weekly thoughts on Christianity, Manhood, and Brotherhood and I believe you will feel the same.
Center are my wife's grandfather (the child) and his father. All three men are looking piff (Sampson County, NC)
Pre Script: In defense of Overalls, they have a very strongly intertwined history in American (and other) blue collar society. Many challenge them or ignore them altogether, but with a slight amount of effort they can be a cheap way to make a bold statement in today's pajama-formal society. You're welcome. Free of charge.
(Yesterday's dress for a family luncheon, my wife's midwife appointment, and church Bible study that evening. Pointer brand overalls, Izod striped plaid shirt, tweed Stetson driving cap, Tommy Hilfiger heavy wool double breasted peacoat, and unseen are my Timex stretch band gunmetal analogue watch, Dr. Martin suede brogan work boots, and 1926 Colt Official Police revolver)
The wonderful thing about modern technology is how it can connect humanity across an entire planet or even expanses of space. I have a comrade who is a police officer in Russia. What a wondrous and frightful thought that, by mere voice commands, I can communicate with him ad nauseum from a cigarette case sized object which costs no more than $45 per month. But every great hero had his flaw. The very benefit with which modernity has presented us is the very chink in our armor. Our faux reality which we have created for ourselves has, as should reasonably be expected, left us with deficiencies. No matter how much we communicate we are still slipping deeper and deeper into depression because of our dependence on dopamine which we develop from this great artifice. Like the drunkard of whom Solomon spoke, though red eyed and lonely and nearly burned out, we will seek it yet again.
This most certainly translates over into rite of passage, and dress is a major player in rite of passage. Most of the men around my age that I meet learned to tie a tie from an online video. My father hated ties and only ever wore clip-ons when I was very young, so I learned to tie a tie from my grandfather. I did not learn from Google because I was raised in a very sheltered and traditionally conservative family (Please, by all means, shelter your children. It is your parental duty. it is better to have them shocked at the grotesqueness of society when they get to college than have them pregnant at 15, smoking weed at 11, or performing seances and playing, "Charlie, Charlie" like the other elementary school kids I worked with as a school resource officer). It accomplishes the task, but leaves out a very important part. It is like the last time I tried to make a loaf of rye bread and had no yeast. I substituted bicarbonate of soda and citric acid. The result, as was scientifically calculable, made the dough rise, but the finished product was more akin to a fluffy cinder block than a loaf of fresh baked bread. Artificial humanity will never substitute for actual socialization. When you leave your son to his own technological devices to learn what you should have taught him, you are creating an emotionally orphaned man who will most likely reciprocate your neglect in manifold ways and in more egregious extremes. That is why I am driving these points to you in such a way. My sons will be taught to tie their ties by a man, in the flesh, who knows how and knows how to wear it and match it. I must make every endeavor to ensure that I qualify for the vocation to which I am bound. If I want him to be taught by a man who knows how, I had better do my diligence in becoming that man.
It was enough, in my teen years, for a guy to slouch into some baggy jeans and a decent collared polo shirt. The post-grunge girls were not looking for Dapper Dan. 2005 was a year of disheveled hairstyles and simple solid colors for most up and coming men. With the explosions of social media, brand ambassading (That is my word. Not yours. I made it.), and every hobo and his brother turning their mom's garage into a fabric printing press, the graphic T shirt with it's adolescent, cracking screech, quickly drowned out a huge chunk of the textile industry. I am often caught off guard when I see man my age or younger in a public place in something other than a T shirt.
The degeneration of our culture continues, excepting a few caveats of social fringes, to the point that we are complacent in everything, and this shows in our standard acceptable dress. The slovenly man says to the well dressed and well spoken, "I would not be comfortable in that outfit". We should reply, "I would not be comfortable spending the entire day in your outfit." Self respect demands that we maintain a presentable appearance relative to the activity in which we engage.
I stopped a car one night for a registration violation. The driver, a handsome young man, was as stiff as stiff. I engaged him and relaxed him, and asked where he was going. He said he was going to pick a girl up for their first date. I leaned over the car, observed his ensemble, and rhetorically said, "Really? In that? for a first date?" Black socks with sandals... a "SUPREME" headband... a "BEAST" t shirt... Those weird pajama/basketball/swabbing-the-poop-deck mariner stretch pants that brats were wearing last year... For a first date... I asked, "Son (he was barely 16), what does she normally wear?" "Like, a dress, or a polo shirt and some nice jeans or something." "Is this address on your license where you are coming from?" "Yes sir." he said nervously. "Well you go home and put on a pair of khakis and a decent collared shirt, and tell her that the cop kept asking you a bunch of weird questions and held you up. She'll probably think that's cool and you'll look back and thank me in a few years." He sat and stared off into blank space, mouth gaping, "uhhh- okay-y-y-y". After a brief silence, I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, did you want to wait here until I write that ticket?" "Oh! No sir!" "Alright then", and I walked back to my car as he made a U turn. We've got to teach these kids a thing or two, because apparently no one else is. I refrained from lecturing him about the filthy car. For a first date...
This is not about being yourself. You can be yourself. But if yourself is pajamas in public, it is time for yourself to grow up. I will wear gym pants and a 'Murica t shirt in the garden. If it's extremely hot and humid I will even wear a T shirt to town (with some jeans or cargo pants). I have left the farm to search for fugitives in my jurisdiction in overalls and a cowboy hat with little more than a badge and a snub nosed revolver. But I will not go into the community dressed for bed. It is unacceptable, even if only to me. I met with someone at a local coffee shop a while back for an informal counselling session. He was wearing a flat bill cap, t shirt, basketball shorts and bedroom slippers. I was wearing a button down shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, and a leather Australian/fedora style hat. "You just got off work at
AM and you're all dressed up?" he scoffed. "You've been off work since yesterday afternoon and you're wearing that, but I had not planned on saying anything." I replied. Dress your age, people.
Post Script: My department actually has a written policy that says officers will not come into town dressed unprofessionally while off duty.
The Blue Shepard
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