Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lifes Little Mysteries, Part One: Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down; Just Don't Buckle Me

I haven't written much lately, have I? I suppose I've been too busy contemplating little mysteries, which I'd like to share with you in a multi-part series of undetermined length, possibly one. Or six. Probably not four, though.

In part one, let us examine the Trench Coat Belt Mystery:

Who came up with the custom of tying a trench coat belt buckle instead of using the damn buckle, and are we still supposed to follow this stupid convention despite the fact that no one makes the belt long enough to tie a decent-looking knot?

In 9th grade, my friend Renee broke up with her first boyfriend. As is generally the case with 9th grade love, it was a bitter parting with hard feelings on both sides, and in the aftermath, Renee would pass me notes in English class, waxing poetic on all the ways that Tom (or possibly his name was Larry?) was a special brand of idiot, the likes of which not yet witnessed by god-fearing humans (this was back before the word douchebag was invented). One particular note excoriated his lack of style, "I mean, he wears a trench coat, but he buckles the buckle instead of tying a knot. What kind of ignoramus doesn't know that you're supposed to tie a knot?" I didn't, but this was back in the days before I could admit that I didn't know something, so I responded, "Seriously. You're so much better without such a capital L loser." My dad, who actually did know everything, confirmed the belt-tying convention, "In Europe, no one would take me seriously as a businessman if I buckled the belt. " There's a chance I'm remembering his answer a little more gravely than he actually said it, but he was adamant that the belt be tied, never buckled.

Since then, I've been somewhat loathe to buy a trench coat because of this belt buckle business. But I needed a light coat to wear to work, since my ninja kitty track jacket with star-shaped that I pretend can shoot lasers that I point at people and say "PEW PEW PEW!" doesn't quite project an air of professional competency. Or sanity. And having recently found a trench coat far too cute to pass up, the ugly dilemma faces me every time I button up. The coat looks much better with the buckle tied, and the belt is really just too short. But what if I see Renee (it's been 12 years, but hey, you never know) and she thinks I'm an ignoramus and doesn't want to be my friend anymore?! Or worse yet, what if random passersby on the street judge me before I can judge them?!?! Or what if my dad rises from the dead and disowns me and then eats my brains?
Can the undead even disown people? I mean, we already went through his will and everything, so there's nothing left not to prevent me from getting, right? I suppose that's another mystery for another day. Back to the belt buckles, sorry to slow you down.

It's a pickle, no?

So who came up with this convention? My internet search yields little info, although I did find a cool article about why we call button-up sweater cardigans, cut-in sleeves raglan, et cetera and whatnot. The people I see on the streets of DC are split about 70/30, the majority of them tying their too-short belts in ridiculous knots so that the ends poke out in all kinds of awkward ways - but that's not counting the crazy homeless people wearing trench coats, who seem to put the belt to good use to tie more shit onto their carts, something I hadn't even considered. It seems that the other parts of the coat were also functional at one point - soldiers in the trenches during WWI found the flap at the collar would provide rainproof when the coat was buttoned up all the way, and the epaulets would carry ammunition.

I suppose that my coat, with its lining patterned with pink tulips and preciously pleated skirt, isn't really going to get me mistaken for a soldier in the trenches or even a gun-toting, disgruntled teenager-cum-mass murderer. And while my angst isn't enough to make me want to massacre a gym full of students, it's enough that I probably won't take the coat with me when doing business in Europe. But I really hope Europeans take laser-shooting, star-shaped elbow patches more seriously than buckled belt buckles.


Post a Comment

<< Home