Clothes-Minded

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I’ve been buying a lot of clothes lately. This is stupid, of course, because I already have plenty of clothes. I mean, have you ever seen me naked? My apologies to those who have, but my point is, it’s not like I’m walking around wearing a barrel, like in the cartoons. I HAVE clothes.

And until recently, when I did need clothes, I just went to Deseret Industries. Stuff is cheap there, and they don’t seem to mind if you shoplift. Plus, ever since the Provo store was rebuilt a couple years ago, the place looks like a department store. It’s so nice that you hardly even notice that what you’re doing is picking through other people’s trash.

Anyway, my friend Josh works at Banana Republic, and he has turned me into a Banana Republican like himself, thanks to the availability of a Banana Republic credit card. Now, if you go to a store so much that you require a special card just to shop there, you clearly shop too much at that store. But to me, a credit card is like free money. I use it to get things, and then I never have to pay for them. Sure, I get credit card bills in the mail every month — thousands of them, sometimes — but in my mind, paying those credit card companies is wholly unrelated to any shopping I may have done previously. It’s just a thing I do every month, and as far as my brain knows, I would still have to do it even if I didn’t buy anything. (If this seems illogical to you, you’ll have to take it up with my brain.)

Banana Republic, the Gap and Old Navy are all owned by the same conglomerate of modern clothing. Of those three, I prefer Banana, partly because I have a friend who works there, but mostly because they don’t have TV commercials. The Gap has those creepy models dancing in unison, their glazed eyes bespeaking a need for deprogramming after having escaped a religious cult, the underlying message being that you should move, dress, and act exactly like everyone else, and that perhaps you should also seek inner enlightenment. Old Navy has that withered old She-Beast with the round glasses hawking the company’s wares, not to mention inane jingles and far more appearances by TV’s The Jeffersons than is healthy. That leaves Banana Republic. Since I don’t remember ever seeing a single BR commercial in my life, that automatically makes it the best store.

(Note that I am omitting Abercrombie & Fitch from the running. This is for a variety of reasons, including the store’s laughably high prices, their pornographic catalogs, their insistence on putting the words Abercrombie & Fitch on everything they sell, the official company policy of forcing employees to act like arrogant trolls who would sooner shop at Wal-Mart than offer to help you find something, and the fact that every man who dresses in Abercrombie & Fitch clothing looks vaguely gay. Aside from those issues, I have no problem with the store, its employees, its clientele or its dirty-picture books.)

Josh dresses almost exclusively in Banana Republic clothes, and he was recently told that he dresses like a model. Note that this compliment is not directed toward him, but toward his clothes. The full statement could have been, “Josh smells like a homeless man, and I’ve filed a restraining order against him, but he dresses like a model.” So Josh’s clothes are doing very well for themselves. One of his polo shirts is seeing someone, and he has a pair of trousers that are engaged to a nice girl from Idaho.

Anyway, this got me to thinking about modeling. I’ve never known anyone who was a model, but it seems like it must be the most egotistical job in the world. I mean, how do you become a model? I guess you wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and say, “Man, I’m good-looking. I shouldn’t be this good-looking for free. Someone should be paying me to be this good-looking.” Then you barge into a modeling agency and say, “I’d like you to pay me money in exchange for my being good-looking.” And of course they gladly oblige. “Here’s some money,” they say. “How old are you? Twenty-two? Well, here’s some extra money, back payments for all the years you’ve been good-looking for free.”

I became a writer because I enjoyed writing and a few misguided people told me I was good at it. Does it work this way for models? “Hey, Chad, you know how you’re always wearing a sweater while grinning and holding a mug of hot chocolate, or playing volleyball in your underwear? You really should try modeling.”

My point? I’m not even going to pretend that I have one. Thank you and good night.

Yeah, I sort of gave up at the end. I knew whatever I said, it wouldn't justify the road trip we'd just been on.

I'd been waiting to use that chunk on modeling for a while. And Josh -- my research assistant/consultant/fashion adviser -- had been waiting for a mention in the column ever since the last time he was mentioned, which was in conjunction with The Tragedy of Village Inn.

Coincidentally, the same week I wrote this, the nation's foremost newspaper parody The Onion referred to Carrie Donovan (the woman on the Old Navy commercials) as an owl-faced Gorgon. I prefer that imagery over mine, but I certainly couldn't steal it. Plus, I'd already written withered old She-Beast, and I hate changing things.

For you non-Utahns, Deseret Industries is a chain of second-hand stores owned and operated by the LDS Church, similar to Goodwill. Very rare was the Garrens Comedy Troupe show for which I did not first visit DI to find some special prop or ridiculous costume item.

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