SACRAMENTO, Calif. - That expression, "clothes don't make the man,' is a good one, except that anyone who has ever shown up somewhere grossly underdressed - or overdressed - it's obvious there is some connection between clothes and who people think you are.
I spent some time in the past few weeks buying some new threads - something I thought I was done with - so that I can hobnob with some of the big cheeses on my campus as well as legislative types and the big donors that want to get their names on buildings.
I remember not-too-fondly the trips to Carnahan's in downtown Jamestown each August to get some new SWCS threads, but being fashion-challeged, I invariably bought the wrong stuff and didn't realize it until the first day of school.
About sophomore year, I figured out that instead of my mother, I needed a friend to go with me on clothes-shopping days. It improved my wardrobe, but not too much. Guys generally have crappy judgment about what looks good and what doesn't.
The shoes were the big challenge, because when the snow would fly, my mom would insist that I wear boots - or at the very least slip-on rubbers.
Isn't that a great word? Rubbers.
I can still hear my grandmother shouting out the back door of my house as I walked to the bus stop: You forgot your rubbers!
I wore loafers, of course, the truly cool shoes which coincidentally had slick bottoms and I landed on my ass all the time. But I remained cool, as we all did, except for those few guys whose mothers somehow got them to wear their rubbers on the school bus.
My God, did they get a load of crap from those of us who were, well, rubber-less!
The other new threads I was forced to wear, of course, was a hat, (once the snow flew) and so I would walk out every morning with a God-awful, red furry hat (complete with ear flaps) perched on my head. And as soon as I was out of sight, I would carefully place it in the bushes next to my neighbor's house (Ted Husted's place I believe).
Afternoons, I had to retrieve it to bring it home and one day, well, it was gone and there was quite a fuss about replacing it. (Mercifully enough, winter was almost over and my mother didn't want to lay out any more cash.)
Today I have to go buy some school shoes. Admiral Fox is adamant that I can't wear my boat shoes every day, particulary in a couple of weeks when I probably will end up dining with a fellow who just gave the university $2 million towards a new athletic building.
But thanks to the mild California weather, I'll spray a little waterproofing on the seams and be fine for the winter.
No need for rubbers, thank you very much.