Saturday, June 16, 2007

In Which the Radical Descends Upon Madison Avenue

I have always thought I had a little bit of the haberdasher in me, but now I know I do, since I have successfully collaborated with Extravaganza to dress him for eighth grade graduation, shepherding him through a variety of men's stores downtown and on Madison Avenue to put together the Perfect Outfit. He actually picks his own clothes very well, and has an acute sense of personal style that some adults will never achieve, so all I have to contribute is what grown ups usually contribute on such missions. He is also a striking boy, as are his brothers, so dress him in a paper bag and he looks good; go to a little effort and he looks like a movie star. Since Ex was deserving of both a birthday present and a graduation present, we had agreed some time ago that we would go to New York and shop for his first Stylish Suit (my partner N. was a 50% backer of this expedition, you will be glad to know.) We completed this mission today, and had an absolutely marvelous time. I took him to brunch at a French Bistro I know on the Lower East Side; he took me to dessert at a resturant in the former Little Italy that serves nothing but rice pudding in twelve or fourteen different flavors.

Oh, and speaking of movie stars, when we got off the train and into Grand Central, there was a massive film crew filming Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road on the Vanderbilt Avenue steps and we saw Leonardo Di Caprio dressed as a 1950's suburban commuter.

Now I said I wasn't going to write about people without their permission anymore, and Extravaganza is my real nephew, so I can't even pull the composite character bit. This means I have to withold all of our witty conversations, as well as a number of interesting questions he asked me about the city that I know well and love, as we coasted past Potemkin University, various historic folksinging joints and the Stonewall Inn (I try to keep the history lectures to a minimum.) For the same reason of course, you will hear no family drivel, which you wouldn't find interesting, but we can be consumed by it for hours. And I will tell you nothing about the eighth grade at Shoreline Middle School, which is a hotbed of intrigue, and about which I like hearing because the stories are hilarious and the eighth grade was the nadir of my own life and the life of nearly everyone else I know. In contrast, Extravaganza's eighth grade seems to be full of wonderful kids who are more or less nice to each other. By re-living the end of middle school vicariously I hope to finally put to rest my own youthful trauma.

I will tell you, however, that recently some idealistic community philanthropy group had the poor judgement to sponsor a lip-synching contest for eighth graders in Shoreline and surrounding (wealthy) towns. Shoreline middle schoolers chose songs from Broadway shows; a quartet of white boys from Richbury chose a rap song called "Nasty Girl" by Nelly, which has as part of its verse, "I need you to grind your little ass and hips...." You've got the picture. I said innocently, "What did everyone think of that?" Extravaganza said, "Well -- these guys were, like touching themselves! And like -- banging against each others butts with their -- and we were, like --" speechless, is what he might have said to complete the sentence, but he demonstrated it instead: mouth dropped open, eyes wide in mock surprise. I can only imagine.

Partly I tell you this because I think it is hilarious, and partly I tell you this so that the next time you are complaining about your university or college job you can imagine what it would be like to teach the eighth grade.

So what did we buy? We bought this suit and shirt (btw, the model is not Extravaganza):

To accessorize, we purchased a pair of pale yellow socks, which picks up a pinstripe in the shirt; a pair of white cruise shoes and one of those belts they started making so preppies would stop stealing their father's neckties to hold their pants up, in pale yellow and white regimental stripe.

Pretty snappy, eh? We think so. Not even DiCaprio looks as good as our Extravaganza. Not by half.


Morning non-fashion question: Has anyone noticed anything odd going on with Sitemeter?


Flavia said...

VERY nice! More eighth-graders--hell, more people, period--should dress so well.

All congrats & good wishes to E--

Edward Carson said...

It was 8th grade when I wore my first clip on bow tie; I loved it;by high school I was wearing one to prep school with the uniform. How about a bow tie?

GayProf said...

Sigh You've never taken me shopping.

Susan said...

Ex will undoubtedly be the best dressed kid at his 8th grade graduation. (As in stylish, not necessarily expensive, depending on which school in Shoreline he goes to.) And I completely agree with you about 8th grade. It was the pits. My general theory is that life improves after age 13. Given the number of people I know who agree, probably part of the misery of 13 was that we were all miserable.

The Combat Philosopher said...

It seems that I should ask you to pick clothes for me. You have much better taste than I! Of course, when I was in school, this was not an issue, as we had to wear a uniform. Now, however...

On the Sitemeter question, the only thing that I have noticed is a recent drop in hits of about 30%. I put that down to my only occasional posting, due to the high speed connection outage and the lightening/fried computer events. What was the 'oddity' that you noticed?

The Combat Philosopher

Tenured Radical said...

Flavia: I agree. It's also just fascinating watching that boys 2 men thing.

Edward: the bow tie idea is fabulous -- I'll run it by him. Only problem is that he has disdain for anything clip on. Once when I was taking him to lunch after church, he removed the clip-on boys choir tie and pulled out another one to put on for hte lunch.

Gayprof: Boyfriend, I would, but it's so hard to find anything to match the Bracelets.

Susan: aha. I have been picking up that you *do* know Shoreline; as you suspect, think, it is the school that appears to be named after a sex worker.

CP: I too wore uniforms through school -- hence the fact that most of my clothes look startling alike. Ex picked out a couple shirts for me that were different and pleasing to me, then whispered, "Now you can throw away a couple of the black tee shirts."

Susan said...

TR -- yes, I do know Shoreline well. Two of my god-daughters went to Ex's school when it was K-5, and both still have fond memories of it as a community and place of learning.
On a more serious note, Ex's experience of 8th grade is a strong argument for the K-8 concept.

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