Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everybody Knows One

Everybody wants to be a part of something. Even if you are one of those "I'm an individual. I don't need to be a part of anything" groups, you're still in a group. Get it? You are, so get over it. The funny thing about non-conformists is that by non-conforming, they are, in essence, creating a group of people who are conforming to be non-conformists. Whatever it is that you're into, someone else is into it too. If you can imagine it, there is a magazine dedicated to it and somewhere in America people are having meetings about it. People love the common thread. If you're ever in the Ukraine and you're wearing your "I Love Little Rock" t-shirt, don't be surprised if an older couple from Minneapolis accosts you. Americans just love seeing other Americans in places other than America. The conversation goes something like this:

"Hey, are you American?"
"Yes I am"
"Well, I'll be. We are too! We're Jim and Delores from Minnesota. Where you from?"
"Little Rock"
"Little Rock? Well, I'll be. Do you know Roger and Margie Swenson?"
"Well, they're from Little Rock, too. What are you doing over here in the Ukraine?"
"Just visiting"
"Well, I'll be. Have a great time. Maybe we'll see you out again somewhere."

And, inadvertently, you will see Jim and Delores again on that same vacation. And it'll ruin your night. Somewhere along the line Jim and/or Delores will say this phrase to no one in particular after being served their food or drink: "Well, that ain't the way we do it in America." More on that later (but not much more, so don't get your hopes up).

True story: A friend (who will remain nameless, but we'll call him "Rob Justis") from Iowa spent a semester in Australia. Who did he end up dating? A girl from Iowa. Somehow, that same girl that he would never had talked to at home became 67% better (and date-able) by simply being in the southern hemisphere. It was because of the common thread factor that they got together.

"You're from Iowa? Wow! Me too! What a small world we live in! Let's date."

We are all part of one of two groups at all times. We are in a group called "The Public" or we are in a group called "The Employees." 97% of Americans, when joining or re-joining "The Public", forget all common sense. You can be the part of The Public when you leave the house in the morning, join The Employees for the morning, re-join The Public for lunch, re-join The Employees for the rest of the afternoon and finish out the day as The Public (until you return home). The IQ level of The Public is much, much lower than that of The Employees. If you remember that one fact while an employee, it'll help your blood pressure during your shift. THE PUBLIC, ON WHOLE, ARE MORONS. You can have an IQ of 150 (is that good?) while you're an employee. That same IQ can drop to single digits (is that bad?) as a member of the public.

(Note: Not all public members are morons and not all employees are intelligent. The +/- factor is somewhere around 7%)

Groups are everywhere. At work, at school, in prison, on the sidewalk. You can be part of several groups at one time. Right now you are a part of a group that reads blogs. You might also be a part of a young attorneys group, while at the same time being a member of AA as well as a person who is a life-long Oakland A's fan. People often use these markers to describe you to someone else. "You know Regina? She's the young alcoholic lawyer who loves the A's."

But for the love of God, don't be the person who goes overboard. Don't be defined. Don't be the guy who runs AND has short-shorts and gel bottles in a plastic belt and wears his race shirts at all times when he is not at work. The person who somehow works running into every fucking conversation with anyone who will listen.

Dale (at work): Hey, Roger, how's it going?
Roger: Great, I'm running the Super 5K for Gout Awareness this weekend!

Parsa (at a dinner party): Roger? I haven't seen you since last Christmas!
Roger: Well, I've been busy RUNNING, that's why.

Father Bilgaw (at Church): Good morning, Roger.
Roger: When are we gonna see you at the track, father?
Father Bilgaw: Son of a bitch, Roger, I hit the tri-fecta on the third race on Tuesday!! It paid 120-1!!
Roger: Father Bilgaw?

As in stocks, you want to diversify. Spread yourself out. Be a part of a bunch of groups. You can LOVE golf. You can. But you can't wear golf shirts, talk about golf, check your shoulder turn in the mirror, watch golf, travel to the Greater Hartford Open, Tiger track on the web, etc. Don't be "Bill- the golfer." And you know what? Bill sucks. He is the worst golfer that you've ever seen. He's the guy who's the most into it that you know but you could beat him left handed. And you hate golf. And you're not even left handed.

The key? Be low-key. Go to Europe and be Lee Greenwood but don't wear your "God Bless The USA" t-shirt. Order some shit that you're never heard of. Don't eat at Burger King in Belgium. Watch NASCAR but don't wear your Little E jacket EVERYWHERE. Love stamp collecting but don't talk about it (the first rule about stamp collecting is: Don't talk about stamp collecting). Be a fan of The Beatles, but don't put BTLSFAN on your license plates. Don't be known as "You know Sally- the quilt lady."

But don't listen to me. I'm the runner and skier guy who loves the Cubs, the Raiders, the Missouri Tigers, Jimmy Buffett, The Who, the Avalanche and who plays Born in the USA 31 times at an pub in London.

And there's no reason for the following photo. Minus the fact that this a group that you may not want to be a part of:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Double Up

When your team is #1 for 7 days of your life, this is how you dress

You know, there are certain rules to life. Some people get it and some don't. Some mullet wearers look in the mirror and think "Hell yes I look good today!" Some tip well. Some sell arms to Nicaragua. We're all different, you and me, but in the end there are some unwritten laws that everyone should abide by. These rules are according to me, but it's not like these are big shockers to most of you reading this. Or perhaps they are. We (being my friends and I) have always felt that about 12% of society really gets it. The other half thinks they get it. In which group do you belong? By the end of this, you'll know. And if you don't, just ask us. We'll tell you. Now get on with it.

The Double Up. Why start here? In the immortal words of John Blutowski, "Why not?" First and foremost, in its most rudimentary and ground level, garden variety state, the double up is wearing the same team/school affiliation on your hat and on whatever you are wearing on your body. Shirt, sweatshirt, pullover, what-have-you. By the way, on a related note, the world can really be divided up into two catagories: Those who wear Starter jackets and those who don't. Anyway, the Double Up is your buddy heading out to the bar wearing a Packers hat and Packers sweatshirt. It's your cousin going to the mall in his Dodgers hat and his Jackie Robinson throwback jersey. It's your drunk uncle coming over for Thanksgiving and sporting his Islanders sweater and Islanders knit cap. Any and all of these are prime examples of The Double Up. You've done it. You might not have felt good about it, but you've done it. But, is it ever OK? Ahhhhhhh. There's the rub. And there's the grey area. The previous examples are when it is not OK. And let's not mince words here, it's usually not OK. But let me backtrack for a moment. It is really NEVER OK to Double Up. But there *might* be better times to Double Up than others. Let's examine. Here are three scenarios. Choose the one that is MOST likely a good time to pull the DU:
1. Ronald is heading to his favorite drinking establishment. Ronald lives in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a huge Knicks fan. His buddies pick him up and he's wearing his Knicks old school button up sports jacket and his Knicks baseball hat on backwards. The Knicks are not playing that night.
2. Shawon is going to his favorite bar to watch his beloved Mighty Ducks on TV. So are his buddies. He's been drinking all day and stops at home to get his Teemu Selanne jersey and his Ducks beanie cap. He lives in Anaheim and it's 86 degrees outside. Shawon is a high school drop out.
3. William is going to the Cubs game. He claims to like the Sox and Cubs the same. William is wearing his Randy Myers jersey from 1995 and his Jody Davis signed hat from 1984 (he says it was signed by JD, but it is illegible, faded and not verifiable). He scalped his two extra tickets and is going with his girlfriend.

So, what do you think? Ronald, Shawon or William? At first glance, you may say Shawon because he's going to watch his team play at a bar and he LOVES the Ducks. William is a fence sittin' bandwagonner and Ronald is rolling with the Knicks on a night that they aren't even playing. Well, my friends, you would be wrong. The right answer is William. But I feel dirty about it. Rule #1 about the DU, is that the only time that it is legimately OK to wear matching team affiliation on your head and body is when you are going to watch YOUR team (must be verifiable by your buddies) play live. Home or away, it matters not. But let's just say that there is an extreme overboard addendum to wearing too much of your team when you see them play on the road. Do not fall into that trap. Flags, coozies, temporary tattoos, belt buckles or any other non hat/shirt combo on the road is too much. But if you said that WIlliam was the answer, you are a winner. For now. Keep reading.

There is no technical rule for home decor. But let's just say that you *might* not meet that special someone.

To recap, rule #1 for the DU is this: If you're going to watch your (verifiable) team play live, it is OK to Double Up.

But there are traps. Beware. Think about our friend Shawon above. He went to the bar to support his Ducks. ONE piece of team apprarel is quite enough. Trust me. Trust us. Trust your insticts. When Shawon rolled in with his Selanne jersey and his knit cap, his credibility didn't even make it inside the bar with him. All he needed was the jersey. Or the cap. But not both.

So, why the double up. It's simple. Because people who DU want to be 100% absolutely without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt sure that everyone in the bar, the club, the grocery store, the pawn shop, knows that they are for (fill in team here). Not (that team's rival). It is pride. It is like carrying a badge. And it is an open invitation to all other supporters of (said team) to open conversation about (said team). But friends, it's too much. And unneccesary. Just one item will do the job. It will. If you're confused, go back to rule #1. And if you're questioning whether or not it's a good time to double up, and you feel that it might be outside of rule #1, it is. Don't be these people

But wait, there's more. What if you're wearing a Texas Longhorn hat and a burnt orange t-shirt from some bar in Austin. Now, nowhere on the t-shirt is anything about UT or the Horns. In fact, it says, "Queers or Steers Get Free Beers." But you're not fooling anyone. Burnt orange is the universal color for the University of Texas. The Horns hat combined with the shirt equals a double up. Don't do it (unless you're going to the Horns game AND you're a Horns fan or grad). What if you're wearing a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sweatshirt and a Cleveland Indians hat. I think you know. It's a stretch, yes. But those in the know (and there's more out there than you think) will see right through you. (FYI: RNR Hall of Fame is IN Cleveland). Remember, if you question it, it's probably wrong. Below are a few more examples of how to violate the DU, but there are thousands of more combos out there:
1. Tour De France yellow jersey replica and Lance Livestrong bracelet
2. Tiger Woods Nike hat and any red polo.
3. Dale Sr. #3 hat and Dale Jr. #8 jacket.
4. England scarf and Beckham jersey

Funny enough, wearing a real bear head does not violate any DU rules

You get it. As Robert Blake once said, "Don't do it." Or his song did. You know. Anyway, there are several subsections to the Double Up that I will cover very briefly. It is important to remember that the DU is not limited to the sports world. Here are some other ways to infringe and dance very close to the world of the Double Up. These are specific examples but it's up to you to interpret the greater meaning and messsage of each. I don't want to have to spell it out for you.
* Do not wear your Tigger sweatshirt while you are still at Disney. Or in Orlando. Or even in Florida, for that matter. Once you're back and out at the mall in Peoria, you can wear it all day. And you'll have that "I got this at Disney last week" look on your face. But when you're there, pack it away right after you buy it.
* Don't wear the Skynyrd tour shirt at the same concert where you bought it. If it's the 2008 tour, go ahead and wear your 99 tour shirt. And if you buy one at the 08 show, you can wear it at the 09 tour (but not anywhere on the 08 tour. Nowhere). NO TOUR SHIRTS PURCHASED THAT NIGHT. NONE (unless you cover it up with another shirt so you don't have to haul it around. The rules are at least reasonable).
* If you bought it at an airport, do not wear it at the same airport.
*North Face pullover and Northface anything on your head (unless it is strictly for weather protection). No Nautica/Nautica combos. Polo/Polo. And on and on and on.
* Any two signed items. A hat signed by Garth Brooks and an unrelated shirt signed by Vince Vaughn that you got the night you were hammered in Chicago and he stood next to you at a bar. This may seem remote, but I'm trying to cover all bases here and help you out. Help you ALL out.
*Do NOT wear any free Sports Illustrated stuff, on head or body, with ANY other sports affiliated teams. No ESPN combos. CNN/SI. You name it. No sports networks with sports teams.
* Cammo and cammo. Never. Unless on you're on the way to shoot stuff. Or your name is Ted Nugent.

There are more. Many more. But hopefully you've become educated enough to make your own decisions. Again, if you have a shread of a doubt in your mind as to whether or not you are doubling you, most likely you are.

There is one exception to the double up and only one. Anyone who plays or played for (insert team here) can wear any and all of the team affiliated stuff they want. But what ex-athlete does that? None. But it would be kind of funny to see Scotty Wedman roll up in a Celtics cap and throwback Bird jersey.

Lesson one is complete. You've been great. Enjoy the Bangles.