Saturday, December 4, 2010

Forever Schlub

Last night, I dressed up. By which I mean I donned more than five articles of clothing/underclothing and none of them was stretchy or fuzzy. I put on earrings, for God's sake. I drew the laziness line at make-up, but my hair was brushed (!) and there were no pony-tail holders in evidence. I even dug out -get this- a hair accessory.


I confess: I'm a schlub. I've pretty much been a schlub since birth. My baby blankets were drab. In preschool, my goal was to wear as few articles of clothing as possible (see also: terrorizing neighbors with nudity) with as few fasteners as possible. If I had to learn to dress myself, I was going to set the bar low.

In high school, I favored long skirts and limp hair. I rallied briefly in college, entering a strange period in which I actually stood in front of mirrors and tweaked my outfits, but, like a kidney stone, it passed.

Since going off the dating market eight years ago, I've allowed myself to descend ascend, by degrees, to my rightful schlubby throne. My closet contains an ever increasing percentage of chunky sweaters, long-sleeved T shirts. and elastic waist pants. I do not own a pair of heels. I do not own a blow dryer. Most of my make-up dates from the late nineties and I wear my hair jammed back from my face in a three-second knot. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but my day-to-day work purse is a cloth grocery bag.

I'm not gonna lie: There are distinct disadvantages to schlubhood. I would probably be passed over for promotion, were promotion possible in my chosen fields. A lack of care for your personal appearance, the thinking goes, betokens laziness, and if you are lazy with yourself you will be lazy on the job. All of this is true: I am lazy. It just does not seem rational to me to expend any more effort than you have to, especially when that effort comes at the expense of reading Dorothy Sayers and/or doing the crossword.

I also think that schlubhood disadvantages me more subtly, in that people, subconsciously or not, respond more favorably to people who are attractive. There's been a great deal of research backing this up, and the effect is noticeable across cultures and milieus. And although you cannot alter your baseline attractiveness -if you have a harelip you will always have a harelip- I can't deny that you can move yourself up or down several rungs of the attractiveness ladder by means of wardrobe, grooming, etc.

Why, then, do I persist? Why raise low high the flag, sleep through sing the praises, etc?

Well, first off, see the aforementioned laziness: It takes me all of 12 minutes and shower, dress, and prep in the morning.

But there's also this: When I do dress up, when I actually put forth the effort to don boots and tights and a dress and a scarf and a nice coat and earrings and hair product, the effect is actually shocking. It's like I've suddenly become the star of my own (slightly wonky) makeover show. One minute I'm shclubby, and the next I am magically transformed into normal.There's something baroque, almost grotesque, about it, like I have sawn a lady in half or plunged a sword through the belly of a rabbit before releasing him to frolic, unharmed, in the grass.

It's kind of awesome, and I wouldn't want to give it up. Not to mention heels hurt, people.

1 comment:

Morgan said...

I totally agree with you on this one. This is one of the things I love about Seattle: the joke here (except it isn't really a joke) is that you can tell when someone is dressed up because they're wearing their nice fleece. Yes, I have a nice fleece, and I only wear it to the opera and concerts. And I still wear my practical comfortable shoes, no matter what the occasion.