Far more telling than a few gray hairs, or a few burgeoning nostril-hairs, or a few more crow's feet, or that twinge in my back or that crick in my neck-- I can feel aging approaching in a far more palpable, far less tangible manner.
I'm pining for days of yore.
I'm becoming one of those fuckers who says, "Well, in the old days..."
Pray for me, kids: this is the beginning of the end. I can practically feel the prickly scrape of Grape Nuts against my deteriorating gullet.
I've been thinking, though, as I warm my pre-arthritic knuckles and my pre-diabetic feet in the flickering, halcyon glow of days of yore, that formality is becoming a little less formal these days.
And I'm not talking about firm handshakes or calling your boss "Sir" (or *gasp* "Ma'am") or about standing when a woman enters the room-- that shit is long dead and decaying. I'm talking about what passes as "formal" these days in the sense of tarting oneself up for a night on the town in the lap of luxury.
Tastes change, no doubt, and I realize and I accept that. But, what happens when changes in taste become a complete lack of understanding of taste? Even people who possess taste now are simply unable to locate goods and services that charm their discerning palates. Unsure of where I'm going with this?
Maybe some subcategories and pictures will help illustrate my point.
THE FORMAL AUTOMOBILE
When it's time to tool around 5th Avenue on an uber-special occasion, what kind of car do you think of? You think of a limousine, of course. Long, luxurious, and swathed from carpet to headliner in sumptuous burled wood and leather-wrapped yumminess.
Well, "in the old days" this is what a limousine looked like:
This, children, is a 1933 Rolls Royce Silver Phantom II. It's probably somewhat unlike the limousine in which you got drunkenly fingerbanged on the way to the beach after your prom. That choice vehicle probably looked something like this:
Familiar? That this lousy hunk of shit passes for a limousine is a shocking and depressing statement about modern culture, and I don't care if that makes me sound like a man named Morton who wears his pants with the elastic waistband hiked up over his nipples.
I just don't care.
If you're still not convinced that limousines aren't what they once were from these two startingly disparate exterior photographs, let's open up those rear doors and take a look inside, shall we?
Here's the interior of an antique Rolls limousine:
I mean-- for real? Those are seats a Queen would feel proud to fart on. And she probably has. And, do you see those beautifully hand-crafted wooden things on the backs of the front seats? Those are picnic tables, friends.
Now, my wife likes to complain about the fact that she's never been inside a "real limo." Well, honey, if you're talking about a modern limo, you ain't missing much:
I mean, seriously-- this looks like a nightclub. And not a nice nightclub either. One in which people get high on coke and then get anally violated in the bathroom by the bouncer. And forget about the Queen farting on these seats. No way. Crackhead hoochies sit on these things without underwear on, for Christ's sake.
THE FORMAL MALE
Once upon a time, men cared about what they looked like in public. Getting gussied up in formalwear was a way to show your impeccable taste, to show off your elegantly-engraved man-jewelry (an 18-K gold pocketwatch, handed down from your great-grandfather on down perhaps-- draped lovingly from your waistcoat pocket). If you can believe it, there was a time when men concerned themselves with looking presentable to go out to dinner or the theatre.
Don't believe me?
We heart Sir Arthur Sullivan here at My Masonic Apron. Even though he was a corpulent little cuss, Sir Arthur could get hisself tarted up with the best of the Victorians. Check out the gold-capped walking stick, leather gloves, and silk top-hat with grosgrain ribbon, clutched deftly in his big-boned left hand. Christ-- check out the fucking monocle! I mean, seriously-- that's a class act. The rest of the ensemble speaks for itself. Elegant, refined, dignified and expertly hand-tailored.
Doesn't look like anybody you ever went to the opera with, does it? When I think of modern formalwear, I definitely start to break out into hives, and my ass starts to sweat prodigiously. Wanna know why? Of course you do:
See what I mean? This is not formalwear. This... this is a fashion tragedy. Congrats on the wedding, though, fellas.
THE FORMAL FEMALE
You feminists can say whatever you want about male oppression and the inhumanity and physically grotesque torture inflicted on a woman's bone-structure, lungs and stomach by the corset, but I don't think women ever looked hotter or better than they did in the Victorian and pre-Victorian era. Trim waists, billowing puffery and neverending trains, breasts on display as if we were at the open-air market, graceful, swanlike necks protruding gallantly from mounds of lace and frill and mountains of curls bedecking freshly-puffed faces.
Well, these days are long gone. But we'll always have Merchant-Ivory films and "Amadeus." These days, women who want to look their best for a special occasion are, well, left to the devices of Jessica McClintock and, well, whoever the fuck designed this all this shit:
Wait a minute-- did I just write a fashion blog?
Well, at least there were cars, too.