I’ve always blamed Shakespeare.
Not for everything, of course. (My grip on reality may be somewhat tenuous at times but it’s not that bad.) No, I blame him for some things. For example, in 1973 he made me sit through an excruciatingly forgettable (but not forgettable, if you know what I mean) performance of Twelfth Night. And it’s his fault there are annoying birds that harass me when I mow the lawn (as if mowing the lawn wasn’t bad enough already). And I’ve always assumed that it was his fault that I had to get dressed up for things that I don’t think require getting dressed up.
I recently saw it claimed that that last one isn’t his fault at all. (Learn something every day, I guess.) No matter where the sentiment came from, though, it’s still wrong.
My Thoreau-like aversion to socially dictated clothing guidelines led me to multiple degrees in physics (a tour guide once pointed to me and told her group of parents, relatives and prospective students that you could tell a physicist by his inability to dress himself properly), a career in IT (because sysadmins — at least decent ones — don’t wear suits) and
ugly curling clothes.
When I started curling, I had two (and only two) criteria for the clothes I wore for games: they had to be ‘warm enough’ and had to allow at least moderate ease of movement. It turns out I had a stunningly (and when I say ‘stunningly’ I mean stunningly) baggy sweatshirt lying around not being used; that seemed to fit the bill. To go with it I went out and bought some sweatpants two sizes too large. Add some wool socks and I was done.
That was good enough for a couple of decades but wasn’t quite ugly enough. (Somewhere in there a third criterion had appeared.) Something was called for. I tried adding liberal doses of tie-dyed shirts so I could make my opponents physically ill (and give my own team something to shoot at). That worked to an extent but it wasn’t enough, somehow. There was something missing. What could it be? Fortunately, that question was answered by an event manager (whatever that is) from Oslo.
His answer? Pants. Loud pants. Garish pants. Let’s be honest — hideous pants. What a great idea. Just think of all the people I could annoy. And they might even be performance-enhancing, which would be the icing on the cake.
So I waited for a sale and went for it; I decided on a pattern inspired by a guy from Holland (similar to — but not quite the same as — the ones they wore to intimidate the Americans). They weren’t terribly warm but were adequate. And they contained a percentage of stretchy polymers. AND some onlookers retched. Check, check and check.
A few weeks ago, though, I had a minor sort of brain fart; I accidentally showed up at a game in a shirt that (somehow) matched them. Well, no harm done, I thought. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a lot as it turned out. We lost. In fact, we were destroyed. We didn’t score a single point. It’s possible, of course, that we simply weren’t that good, that our opponents had superior tactical acumen and more skill so we were out-thought and out-played. Could that have been it?
Nah. (I thought immediately of this.)
But I wasn’t sure, so I decided to do an experiment. In our next game I dug up a neon pink tie-dyed shirt that clashed with my pants. (Heck, it clashed with everything.)
We won 8-1.
That was suggestive but not absolutely definitive. So I did it again, this time with a shirt covered in a giant yellow-and-green spiral (there are things that go with a Mondrian, but that isn’t one of them).
We won again, that time 9-2.
Lesson learned. Maybe clothes do make the man — just not the way Polonius (and Bill) imagined they did.