Author: Ben Tuthill
When I was a kid I couldn’t throw a baseball. Whenever I tried my father would shake his head and tell me I threw like a girl. Maybe that’s sexist, but I could never get my pitches more than halfway to home plate, and when it came time for Little League he was too embarrassed to sign me up.
Senior year of high school a couple of friends stopped by for breakfast. We were eating pancakes in the kitchen when my father walked in. “Did you guys play catch with your fathers when you were kids?” he asked.
“Yeah,” they said. “Of course.”
My father shook his head and looked out the window wistfully. “I always wanted a son who played baseball,” he said. He walked away without looking at me.
When he dropped me off at college and told me, for the first and only time, that he was proud of me, I knew that he only half meant it.
Most boys like sports. And if they don’t like sports, they like riding bikes, and gym class, and at recess they go outside and play things like tag and kick ball and soccer.
I would stay inside comparing construction paper swatches while nursing an unconfessed interest in cross-stitching.
Life was hard. So I said screw them. Keep watching your Super Bowls and your RBIs. I’m going to follow something that matters. I’m going to follow fashion.
My father never calls me.
What does it mean to follow fashion? Most people have heard of Fashion Week. That’s like a week long, right? Wrong! Between Fall, Spring, Resort, Pre-Fall, Couture, and Menswear in New York, Paris, London and Milan, 24 out of 52 weeks a year are Fashion Weeks. And that doesn’t include market weeks, capsule releases, pop-up fairs and street style shots.
You think keeping NBA prospects straight is tough? Try tracking who’s head of Jil Sander after the YSL/SLP-Dior Hedi-Raf-Pilato switch-up. #getonmylevel.
So fashion is sort of like sports. Except talking about sports makes people like you. So it’s more like being a music nerd. But in addition to everyone thinking you’re a dick, they also think you’re gay.
Tell a pretty girl your opinions on the length of the side slits in Raf Simons’s latest collection and see how long she doesn’t start hooking up with your friend in the ill-fitting Lakers jersey.
At least she’ll come to you when she’s not sure which Balenciaga knock-off to get from Forever 21. The mustard one! you’ll tell her. As you inspect the seams that are already coming undone you’ll think, someday she’ll come around. Someday she’ll see that I’m a man too!
I’m the one with heritage work boots, not him! Those are tough, aren’t they? Girls like that, yeah? And I know 120 designers who show in Milan alone. That’s way more teams than there are in the NBA! Choose me, Pretty Girl. The heart beneath my leather Carven pocket protector beats for you!
But it’s hopeless. Because she likes sports too. So does my mother. And someday even my son. No one cares.
Someday it will all be okay. Someday we’ll come to a glorious world where everyone’s a fashion blogger. Where everyone has an Instagram filled with comparative analyses of chino-cuffing strategies. Where girls with studded heels will stop me, snap a picture, and text me a link to their Tumblr address along with their phone number.
This glorious world will be called New York Tradeshow Week, and in two days it will be over, and by the time everyone who cares about it has read about it everyone who wrote about it will be over it, and the rest of the world will look at me, ask why I’m wearing a Hawaiian shirt with camo-print bowling shoes and push me out of the way so that they can get with the pretty girl who’s trying to talk to me about baseball standings.
Life is really, really tough.
Why do I do this to myself? To fill my head up with the space that sports statistics won’t stick to. To prove to my father that I’m actually good at something. To drown out the fact that I still can’t throw a baseball.
I like clothes, Pa, okay? So do you. You wear them every day. I just know more about them than you do. Stop making me get defensive and read my column about them every week.Maybe we can transcend some gender binaries and get excited about Rick Owens men’s floor-length maxi-dresses. Or boots. Real men like boots, yeah? Yeah. This will be fun.
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