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Sunday, August 01, 2004

In Which I Purchase Self-Confidence, for Six Coins

Those who know me may know that I'm not terribly fond of my looks. In the past couple of years, I've become accepting that there might be some people who do like my looks, but every time I see a picture of myself that's a profile at all, or myself in the mirror sideways, I cringe.

Meanwhile, I've slowly been changing my wardrobe, getting rid of the white shirts, which make me cringe. Rather than carry all my things in my pockets, when I was off in Florence I picked up a bag. OK, a man-purse. The bag, by the way, has a label that says that it was made by "Exotic Fantasies" Bag Designers. I didn't notice this when I bought the bag. The bag is fairly good-looking, black with red trim, but hardly what I'd call "exotic." And while it's certainly useful, calling it a "fantasy" bag would definitely be a little excessive. Put the two together for "Exotic Fantasies" and, well, it sounds like it should come with a dildo. Or handcuffs. It didn't. It's just a bag. Speaking of its bagness, at the shop I got it in, the woman at the counter offered to put it in a bag for me. "Bag?" she asked. "No bag," I replied, "It is a bag." It was very Aristolean. Maybe.

At any rate, now that I had a bag, I felt that I could and should continue to accessorize, as I now had room to store things that I couldn't carry in my jeans pockets. Next on the list: sunglasses. I looked while in Florence, as there were no shortage of street vendors with sunglasses for sale. For 30 Euro. For my American friends, 1 Euro=$1.25. Now, these guys could probably be haggled with, but I didn't try. Anyway, I ended up the day after I returned at the Camden Market, a much more affordable set of shops than Florence. For example, you can get a black shirt with an electronic, programmable banner scrolling across your chest for a mere 40 pounds from Neal Stephensonville! And sunglasses from a street vendor for 6 pounds, which I did, with some aid from a co-worker with a stunning sense of style. (She explains this saying "I like colors.") They're a nice dark green, which is my favorite color.

And they look good on me. Like, really good. Like, for the first time, I actually think I look good when I see myself in a mirror. I think it's that they change the shape of my face just enough that, uh, I like it. Okay, I don't know why I didn't like my look before, or why I like it now, but it's the sunglasses, dammit.

After work today, walking home, still dressed fairly nicely from work, carrying my bag, wearing my sunglasses, I decide to stop for a haircut, something I was in desparate need of. I end up at a cheap male barber shop, since cheap is still my primary motivation. I end up with a cut slightly shorter than I wanted, and misunderstanding a question from the barber, gel in my hair.

So I'm walking home, in my nice baby blue work shirt, cool sunglasses, black man-purse, and short, gelled haircut. And I'm staring at myself in the windows of stores I pass and laughing. I looked like the sort of person who might make a commotion when walking into someplace, and that is so far out of my view of myself that I thought it was funny. I wish I could have taken a picture of it, but I'm pretty sure it would have been viewed as arrogant. "No, no," I explain in my head, "I want to make fun of this on my website." I look too normal. I want to have purple hair and my "Your Favorite Band Sucks" t-shirt on for situations like this. "Like this" meaning "in my head."
- Rowan Kaiser, 12:13 PM
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