28 May 2017

Mistakes were made and I blame 1979

13 year old me on the far left (but clearly not far enough left).
1979...I hate you.
In a post earlier this month, I wrote about my Aunt Robin who succumbed to the heinous monster that is Alzheimer's Disease. With plans now in place for her memorial, my cousin Leigh requested some family photos so that they can be displayed at the memorial. To help me with that project, she sent me the gem that I've included in this post so that I would have a flavor of what she was looking for.

In looking at the picture, one phrase keeps coming to my mind over and over again, "Mistakes were made," and to be fair, those mistakes were made by me. I've not been shy about sharing my long history of awkward adolescent horror that was captured on film and this will be no different. So let's parse this train wreck.

First a little historical context for you. Picture it, if you will...it's November 1979 and for the first time in many, many years, the Lyons/Kramer families have gathered from Florida, where my grandparents lived and Arizona, where we lived, in Durham, North Carolina for a Thanksgiving reunion. The turkey would have been evidence of the time of year but given that its beige color blends nearly perfectly with my suit, it's more than a little hard to see the bird.

To celebrate that long awaited reunion, I chose to showcase my own poorly developing sense of no style by sporting a three piece suit/explosion of beige. The short sleeve dress shirt and tie combo was a minor league error but an indication of things to come. I mean who was I? Sipowicz? Also, the tie, which looks like it was sewn into the suit for convenience but wasn't (I swear!), was of my own choosing. The jacket, mercifully unseen here, as I recall (but remember repressed memories may not be 100% accurate), had brown faux leather patches that every painfully awkward, late in puberty adolescent boy wants to have in order to pull off that "I'm a professor" look that was sure to make him a hit with the ladies. The best part about this suit was that it was made of, wait for it...corduroy. This was 1979 corduroy which meant it when you walked the corduroy rubbed together loudly enough to make noise as well as emit smoke from the friction. Awesome!

As I was trying to achieve that professorial look, it was clear that I was trying to adult the heck out of this event. I can tell that from my expression captured in the picture. You may see it and think, 'That's what happens when you try to pull a face in a family photo.' I say nay. I recall trying to capture something of a je ne sais quoi attitude about the gathering and you can see how that worked out for me, which is to say not well. Speaking of expressions, I've got to hand it to my sister for not hiding her feelings that day at all. When I shared this picture with her, she said, "Ha ha! I was mad at somebody here." I think she may have had a side order of rage with Thanksgiving dinner. To be fair, this has given us more than a few laughs in the past few days.

Now you may be wondering where I procured the suit featured in today's mini-lesson in my "Learn From My Mistakes" series. I've blocked it out, if I'm honest, but I'm going to go out on a limb and blame the good people of JC Penney and their 1978-1979 catalog. Methinks the travesty in beige I was wearing was found on page 247 of that catalog. Looking back on those catalogs is an invitation to some kind of post-traumatic psychotic event. That said, if you want to bust a gut laughing about that catalog, you need to read this right now. This legendary post is now nearly 10 years old but unlike the catalog that it skewers, it has not aged one day. It's genius!

Since 1979's epic fail, I've learned a thing or two. I've tried to avoid self-emolating by not wearing corduroy. I've steadfastly avoided short sleeves and ties, with the exception of two years on a bike in Miami as a missionary. You try trotting around Little Havana in long sleeves in August...I've learned that you can survive the horrors of your teenage years, no matter how awkward, and find someone who thinks you're pretty darn OK (it should be noted that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML is a saint). I've learned family forgives things like that a beige suit.

To my family that I'll be seeing in a few weeks at Robin's memorial, rest assured, the suit will not be there. You're welcome.

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