“CLOTHES MAKE the man.” I don’t know how the phrase originated; maybe it was some copywriter’s master stroke. I’ve heard it repeated all my life; it was ingrained by adolescence. I don’t hear it as much nowadays, but I think of it every time my appearance elicits a reaction, such as the recent Sunday morning when a woman at church said, “Oh, you be stylin’ today!” I especially liked that one because I had made more than the usual effort that morning to assemble pieces I had never combined before, just to get a different look.
I don’t have to get dressed up to get reactions, though. I was walking along Broad Street the other day in my favorite Grateful Dead T-shirt. A woman on the sidewalk noticed and said, “Oh! I loved Jerry Garcia (the dead Dead guitarist.) The woman was stone-cold gorgeous, and the only reason I didn’t take the bait is because I am trying to be faithful to the woman I’ve been dating for almost three years. So, I just said, “Me, too.”
In the winter, I wear a nice alpaca overcoat or a camelhair topcoat (both of which I bought in the offseason to save money), or I wear an old Army surplus jacket that is the warmest thing in the cold (other than lying next to a woman under a blanket). In the old Army jacket, people offer me assistance. In the alpaca or camelhair coats, people ask me for money.
Then there’s the matter of hair, which, after all, is just a fashion accessory. Despite how pains- takingly I pick out my clothes, I can’t control my hair. My hair could make a living on its own posing for the left-side photo in “before and after” ads. I have tried mousse, gels, hair tonic, hair spray, and a variety of combs and brushes, to no avail. I once even got a perm. (A woman, naturally, talked me into it.) I hated it, but had to live with it for six months. Now I’ve reached an age where people say, “At least you’ve got hair,” so I’ve got that in my favor.
It’s when I’m looking halfway ragged that I reflect more on people’s reactions. Last week I was taking out the trash. I don’t get all dressed up for that. A couple strolled by. The woman stopped and said, “Excuse me, but are you hungry?” I said “no” and looked away, thinking, “Good grief! I’m throwing out garbage; I’m not scrounging through garbage.”
The woman was persistent, though. “Because if you’re hungry, you can walk with us over to Heritage Park and get a free meal.”
“Thanks, but I just ate.”
“I just thought you might need a meal and to hear the word of God.”
Ah, therein lies the rub. If I’m in torn jeans, next to a garbage can, I must be not only hungry but also in need of salvation. Had I not wanted only just to get back indoors to my computer, I might have invited the couple to come with me across the street to Moe’s for barbecue and a discussion of Merton, Nouwen, Buechner, etc. Yes, that would have been snobbish of me. But no worse than the presumption that I am a hungry sinner because I don’t put on a tie to take out the trash.
Gregg Allman’s recent death didn’t leave a void, as some off-the-top-of-the-head postings on social media asserted, for a couple of reasons: One, the Allman Brothers Band ceased to be creatively relevant a few years ago. Two, thanks to the times in which the group emerged and flowered, most of their moments, including remote stages before small audiences, are preserved.
I first heard the Allman Brothers Band at the old Municipal Auditorium on Courtland Street in Atlanta in the mid-1960s.They were the warm-up act. I can’t even remember who the headliner was. I was instantly hooked. The blended sound was different, yet with familiar strains. Music critics cast about for descriptive labels, like Southern rock or (groan) “white blues.”
I last heard the Allman Brothers Band live in a farm field in Pennsylvania in the 1990s. I once crashed on a couch that the drummer Jamoie had also crashed on. That was in the home of Scott Freeman, the author of the definitive book on the ABB, “Midnight Riders.” I’m sure it’s out of print, but you could certainly obtain a copy at Dogwood Books here in Rome. Scott’s working title for the book was “Hellhound on Their Trail,” probably more apt but rejected by the publisher.
Thousands lined the streets as the hearse made its way toward Macon’s beautiful, serene Rose
Hill Cemetery, where Gregg was laid to rest near his brother Duane and bassist Berry Oakley. The funny thing is, back when the band was making Macon home and gaining stardom, the city leaders wouldn’t acknowledge even the existence of the ABB – long-haired, filthy hippies, you know.
The National Football League has said it will relax its restrictions on end-zone celebrations, which had led some to say the NFL stood for the No Fun League. Personally, I don’t like end-zone celebrations in the first place. When you cross the goal line, act like you’ve been there before and just hand the football to the referee. You don’t see me spiking my laptop or dancing on the win- dowsill when I finish an assignment. Swallowing Tylenol, maybe.
I received an advertising flyer from a department store that was timed for Father’s Day. Tucked among the glossy photos of men’s clothing was a camera-equipped drone for just $89.99! I had no idea you could buy a drone at a department store. Or that a drone was so affordable. I don’t know what I’d do with a drone, so I didn’t rush over to the store to buy one. But my imagination has been in overdrive ever since. So, if you’re wondering what to get me for next Father’s Day…
Bumper sticker seen on a pickup truck with Henry County license plates: “Love God. Carry a Pistol.” Someday, somebody is going to have to explain the connection to me.
J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome.
This column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.