Save it for good !
Save It For Good
It is an expression from child hood that I still sometimes use. Growing up in a large family, with limited resources, meant that certain garments like church and school clothes were not meant for the rough and tumble use of daily wear.
After school, we would don blue jeans, a tee shirt and an old pair of black sneakers from Liberty shoes. These were the clothes that you could roll around in the mud during a pickup football game, or wear in any of the other activities that a gang of city street urchins gets up to when not confined to the daily rigors of elementary school, under the watchful surveillance of an order of nuns that were God’s personal army.
It was only as we entered high school and began to interact with girls that clothes began to become an issue. A childhood friend asked if his tee shirt looked good? I had no idea what he was then talking about. Why would one shirt look different from another? What he probably meant was would girls like his shirt and did it look good on him? Huh? Who would know the answer to that poser at 12 years of age?
In High School, it became important to “wear the right thing,” something that everyone else was also wearing. I don’t think any of us ever considered the psychological implications of lemming like behavior and the absolute need to think, act and dress like everyone else. It was just something we all aspired to do.
It was harder on those of us from the larger families. We didn’t have the money to buy the trendier clothing and shoes that the better off kids were sporting. And of course the comments, about your mode of dress, were not kind from some of the little snobs. It made one feel self conscious about our family’s lack of financial standing. I still think ill of the worst of these little snobs, even these many decades later. Even many years later, it hadn’t changed much. Children of our friends, who attended the “better high schools,” reported that the snootier kids were checking on the interior labels of friend’s clothing, to judge their conformity with local snob standards. Can you imagine?
College in the 1960’s was a little better. No one then wore anything but faded jeans, team sports wear and old army shirts. Fashion took a break for a decade. People actually related well without all of the sartorial armor that was formerly held as a standard of appraisal. The practice returned again in the professional world. There, you were judged first on your clothes before you even had a chance to say a word. Truly, the practice was like enjoying a book because of its cover. And sometimes what was inside was not as advertised. Caveat emptor. (let the buyer beware)
Even now in our late sixties, we hold some garments back “just for good.” It is those items of clothing that we have reserved to wear to church events like weddings and funerals, the opera, philharmonic or theater. And even there, we see some of those self same snots, now grown up, critically appraising the garments of those around them. Do some people never recognize bad manners and lack of gracious behavior?
And whenever possible, I try to pay it forward, with some folks who need a hand more than others. It seems like the right thing to do, and it sure makes me feel better when I can help someone else out. “Clothes make the man” is a popular saying among the social elites. That may be so to them, but it sure doesn’t make them into better human beings. Only good manners and a gracious generosity of spirit can do that.
Joseph Xavier Martin