Rendered Fat Content


Thomas Hart Benton: Cotton Pickers (1931)
"I can carry a hammer anywhere now!"

Our GrandOther Kylie has taken to engaging in cosplay, wherein she dresses up in the costume of some Anime or Nintendo character for the apparent purpose of becoming that character for a while. Her evident pride and satisfaction as she explains her character's particular proclivities speak to the efficacy of the practice. I, never having heard of these characters before, sort of fuzz over at her explanations because I really cannot relate to them, but I engage in my own curious cosplay behavior which might well baffle anyone else. Just this week, for instance, I started test driving a pair of Overalls I'd purchased online on a whim. I saw them there, on sale, and decided in that moment that they might serve me well, or, better than my then current handyman garb. Through Our Grand Refurbish, I'd ruined three pairs of otherwise perfectly respectable jeans, wearing out the knees on two of them and slopping another pair with so much paint that they're unusable for anything but painting. Further, those jeans lacked the pockets I needed, and their cantilevered construction meant that I spent a considerable part of my day "hiking" them up. They were always sagging.

Something about that photograph of those Overalls caught my attention and in that moment, I'd nabbed the pair.
Grey. Twill. Not Osh Kosh blue, not really very much like migrant workers wore during The Great Depression. They might not quite qualify as fashion, but they almost appeared to have been tailored, post modern, if you will. They arrived several days later and I tried them on in the privacy of our bedroom, embarrassed at their cut and their implication. Wearing Overalls might mean that I'd become a geezer, had entered my dotage where I would sit and amuse myself with spitting, perhaps even (shudder!) whittling. I might even, if the influence turned malign, get a dog and become inseparable from it. I felt as though I stood at the top of a long downward slide. I tried on those babies before relegating them to the bottom of my jeans drawer, where they hid beneath indecision for the following several months, until this week.

This week, I showed up on the job site (our living room) wearing these baggy things, feeling half naked from the waist down. Overalls are to pants as pants are to draperies. They suspend themselves from one's shoulders, which means there's no belt involved. They feature a loop intended to carry a hammer, a feature that if used would tug a pair of jeans down to one's knees in seconds, but with these babies, no embarrassment. And they feature pockets innumerable. I'm always discovering new ones! One seemingly expressly designed for carrying that five-in-one tool, a constant companion of anyone like me, continually cosplaying a handyman character. The Muse saw me in them and expressed a deep concern about my well being. "I'm worried about you," she said, as if I had demonstrated that I was already far beyond her concern. I understood in that moment how Kylie must feel when I can't help myself cracking a few jokes about her cosplayed character just because I don't understand and she looks strange wearing that tam. Cosplay's apparently serious business, not just diverting amusement, for even a borrowed identity carries identity's weight. Joking about even a temporary identity could spark an identity crisis, or so I'm sensing while standing there in my Overalls, suddenly overwhelmingly self-conscious.

That first day, I tried to keep a low profile, but our painter and our carpenter were moved to notice, with a touch of envy, my new mode of pants. They'd both considered the Overall route, but had never found any with the proper design, but mine looked good to them, not at all worrying, as The Muse had insisted. They considered them practical and, while they both understand that I'm not really the handyman I pretend to be, they opined that they even looked pretty good on me. My jury's still considering. I wore them on a run to the paint store for sandpaper yesterday, my first foray out into the wider world where I risk getting found out what I cosplay at home. I felt like I was shopping in pajamas. The cut, if Overalls even have a cut, seems expansive, even enormous. I'm reasonably certain that two of me could fit into the body if not the bib of these pants. I do not want to know if my butt looks big in them because it probably rivals Kansas when viewed from a safe-ish distance. The zipper reminds me of my grandfather's, which started somewhere up near his nipples and extended down to just above his knees. Expansive describes the fit, which never threatens to come into contact with actual skin south of my shoulders. I feel like I'm wearing a cloth barrel.

I won't go into the contortions I'm forced into to gain entry or exit from them. Suffice it to say that they're exposing me to some new Tai Chi poses, ones with distinctly different purposes. I sense the potential for throwing out my back or worse. To use the bathroom, I basically have to get completely undressed, including taking off my glasses so I can remove the sweatshirt I wear over the bib. It's a ritual to which I might not ever fully adapt, and one representing a real barrier to embracing the whole Overalls lifestyle thing. Should I manage to imprint upon them, though, I expect that I'd lose my self-consciousness and cosplay quite shamelessly without apparent concern. It would be as if Kylie wore one of her Anime character's costumes when meeting the queen, but everyday. Once one steps into any fashion frontier, real danger always lurks there. But, hey, I can carry a hammer anywhere now!

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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