Clothing makes the manatee.

Over recent months I’ve been making an attempt to dress better. Nothing gratuitous, just learning what to wear and how to wear it, shaking up the wardrobe one pair of cargo pants at a time. I’ve learned about buying clothes that fit, working around the various oblongs and right-angles that my body is composed of. I’ve found some stuff that’s slimming and other stuff that just generally looks nicer. I’ve purchased v-necks, long sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, jeans and dress shoes. Slowly but surely I’ve been getting to a level where I no longer seem disheveled and unkempt. Instead I appear to sort of know what I’m doing.

In the past 2 weeks, all of my hard work has been flushed away.

In Melbourne I got utterly dumped on, which put paid to my new suede shoes. As such I’ve retired them from active service, reverting to the homely trailer-trash sneakers I picked up from Walmart. They’re black all over with thick dense soles, needless flimsy stitching and they’re goofily wide. They’re also incredibly comfortable. I forgot what it was like to walk with shoes that actually gave support. While my Hush Puppies had a cool name and a chilled air to match, walking in them for long distances did nothing for my flat, arch-less feet. I’d actually had to factor in at least 2 extra minutes getting ready, ’cause even with a shoe horn the length of my forearm, slipping into them required focus and discipline. I’ve heard it said that women will often base much of a man’s attractiveness on his taste in shoes. I’m sure my current derelict footwear would be a deal-breaker for most style-minded females. Consider this my current vow of celibacy. It’s not like I’ve got time to meet anyone before I leave, might as well make the most of it.

With the collapse of my shoes the first arrow has been fired in a war against presentation. The slovenly hordes are running amok through my wardrobe and desecrating corpses in their wake. I’m rocking comfy ill-fitting jeans, visible thermals underneath graphic tees underneath oversized hoodies, all tied up with a thick woolen scarf. It’s like I’ve regressed 5 years in 2 weeks. The worst part is I totally love it. Through my brief affair with style I forgot my abiding weakness for cosiness. I’m like a junky who’s taken his first hit after a lengthy departure. The other day I even wore sports shoes with white socks underneath jeans. I regret nothing. I’ve gotta take some care not to recede to a smeagol state, hunched in front of the computer sporting neckbeard and mullet. It’s a slippery slope and I know which way I’m sliding.

It’s currently a challenge to stay garbed in civvies under the seductive influence of the domestic sphere. As soon as I walk through the door I feel a magnetic pulse from my pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown that’s irresistibly strong. It’s rare to find my gown on the rack past 8pm. If company shows up, well we’ve practically got a slumber party going on. If I’ve got no reason to leave or more than 30 minutes before I’m gone, the clothes are off and the slumberwear is equipped (+1 to snuggly). If he’s left his own devices, the wild Leon can be seen roaming the kitchen at 3pm, still clothed in stripey blue PJs, grazing on errant nuts, fruits and vegetables. It’s like I’ve hibernated and hunkered down in a metaphorical foetal position. My polarwear is like fuzzy armour staving off the ravages of the arctic. Am I lacking in style? Definitely, but it seems like I’ve reverted to a defensive state to ward against the winter chill. It’s like Arnie said in the 1997 classic Batman and Robin “There is only one absolute everything. Freezes.” He’s not sending me to the cooler.

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