April 25, 2004
Last fall, before moving to this city outright, I sublet an apartment near campus during interview season. It was "furnished" with a rusty twin-sized mattress that sat on the floor sans box spring, a desk, a small dresser and a set of shelves. The kitchen, on the other hand, remained fully stocked.
One shelf featured a number of boxes and packages labeled in Spanish, prominently stamped with the legend "Hecho En Colombia." Hmmm. Another shelf was completely full of cooking spices, which was unremarkable until you realized that a third shelf was also completely full of cooking spices. Either the Colombian and non-Colombian roommates had both shown up with fully-equipped spice cabinets, or else they didn't share very well. It was a cramped, dingy little kitchen, easily susceptible to catfights...And so forth. It's amazing, the amount of domestic back story that can be reconstructed off of pantry shelves.
Guest-blogging -- this is the first time I've done it -- looks to be a similar experience. The Movable Type categories here at Crescat, in case you were wondering, include such curiosities as "evil minions," "books (non-literature)," "etiquette," "vice," and my favorite, "Kazakhstan." I could try to reverse-engineer a story to fit these, but would invariably fall short of the real thing.
I was a bad and evil subletter. I sowed discontent. I cleaned up the pantry and organized all of the spices onto one shelf. Here, however, I promise to be a better-behaved guest. :)
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What the gentlemen Waddling Thunder and Will Baude fail to note is that when men wear business suits, the women working with them also wear business suits. Actually, it's not the suits that are the problem. If you've ever noticed professional women walking to work, clad in a power suit and a pair of sneakers, you can probably guess what the problem is: those cursed heels.
I walked into Marshall Fields and asked for the most comfortable pair of heels that would match my suit and cost less than $100. What the clerk brought me wasn't comfortable. I finally tried many on and left with the least bad option. At the end of a day in which I had to spend most of six straight hours (yes, I realize that's not very long) standing in them, my then-boyfriend offered to carry me a mile through downtown to the car and spare me the additional pain of the walk. For some reason based in pride I turned him down, although for the life of me now, I can't see why.
I've mentioned (complained about) the heels problem to the good market libertarian Will before, and he just hasn't understood. Surely, this is just a failing in my shopping ability. After all, if women minded the atrocious pain of heels, they'd just quit buying them. No. It doesn't work that way. Suits still require heels, not the infinitely more comfortable sandals or the lovely knee-high boots (under which a pair of nice thick socks fits). The market has not yet produced an acceptable solution to this problem, and I have no faith that it will.
Signed, the token liberal.
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I'm happy to announce the arrival of another illustrious Crescat guest-blogger. For the next week, we will play host to the musings of the semi-nonymous "JCA," proprietress of Sua Sponte, one of the first blogs I ever read. As a special dispensation, she will also be the only Crescat guest-blogger to receive a color other than guest-blogger-blue. I will let her take care of any further introductions that must be made.
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Waddling Thunder has a quite sound defense of the business suit. My own affection does not extend quite as far as his, but I do agree that one of the brilliant things about a well-tailored sports coat or suitjacket is its ability to smooth out unsightly but perfectly natural bulges. I'm sure this has been common knowledge for years, but I was first awakened to it by former President Clinton, who wisely switched the semi-casual shirt-and-tie to shirt-and-jacket.
As Waddling Thunder notes, the rise of business casual is a mixed blessing, though I do think he fails to note the extreme benefits that I discovered last summer of wearing as little clothing as possible when hiking from the metro station in DC summer heat.
UPDATE: Amber Taylor (natch) chimes in to say that "there are many light summer-weight fabrics which can keep you cool yet still look professional". Even quite light suits are much more stifling than a pair of suit trousers and a dress shirt sans jacket, and really light-weight suits don't look as snazzy. But don't get me wrong. There is a better solution than caving to the business casual crowd or simply suffering-- I think it's acceptable for a gentleman to toss his suitjacket over his shoulder as he's walking down the street in the morning, before arriving at his incredibly air-conditioned office. It may be a small concession, but no more so than wearing one's tennis shoes on the walk to work before slipping into something execrable. At least, this seems to be the equilibrium commonly pursued on the 18th st. corridor I haunted.
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I feel like I've been complaining like a curmudgeon recently, but another convention of political speech that aggravates me is the dichotomy between red and blue states. The Washington Post's most recent piece on the two colors, Political Split is Pervasive, even acknowledges this:
The Red-Blue thesis has a range of critics, from well-read sophisticates in Red zones who resent being stereotyped to liberals who feel the framework unfairly portrays them as cut off from Main Street America. Some critics feel the model wrongly avoids talking about the millions of eligible citizens who don't show up as either color, because they don't vote.
Actually, Red zones and Blue zones are demographically similar in many ways. Lots of Red voters live in Blue country, and vice versa. Gallup pollsters have emphasized what they call "purple states," a geographically diverse atlas in which the total votes cast for Bush and Vice President Al Gore in 2000 produced a statistical deadlock: Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
The notion of two tribes unhappily sharing a country is gaining strength among analysts, however. "It's huge," Noel said. "People in these two countries don't even see each other." And that's partly because of political segregation.
Sigh... really, my problem with the red and blue states division is that when I hear the phrase, I can't get the pictures of the red guys and blue guys (Yooks and Zooks) from The Butter Battle Book out of my head (the book's associated message might not be inappropriate, though).
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The comments are currently non-functional at The Class Maledictorian. I had nothing to do with this, and Ms. Taylor's commenters are definitely more interesting and coherent than most, but those of us who nurse an irrational dislike of comments celebrate the little victories we get.
UPDATE: And they're already back . . .
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