Targetting the Icon of Mummified Habit and Unthinking Conformity

Looking for content suitable for this blog, I reflect again on comments on a previous post titled Not the Ordinary Gay Guy’s Blog submitted by regular readers.

My friend Kevin stated that I am genuine and speak from the heart. My friend OBMIT said that I don’t blog about stereotypical gay topics (except in ways that bring their ill-advised focus to light.)

But what floored me was the comment from reader Bill…

…who said–

What you’ve intentionally done (but perhaps without concurrent realization) is to demonstrate that despite the best laid plans to make a template for what an ‘ordinary’ gay guy may be, that there truly isn’t an ‘ordinary’ gay guy. In the process you’ve booted that stereotype as far away as possible while helping to remind all of your readers that they too need not settle for subjugation by what the conventional received wisdom may be. They too have the right and the ability to make a choice in their own lives. They need not live as helpless (hapless?) victims who are only to be dictated to without having recourse to other possibilities. That in regards to life situation, motorized conveyance or footwear preference, there are choices to be made and we can still make them. That is what keeps me coming back to your blog and I suspect it is in part what keeps others coming back as well.

Thank you for your most excellent and informative blog, BHD. I think of you as being – in the best possible way – an enlightened iconoclast whose target is the icon of mummified habit and unthinking conformity. And you do it all in the most varied pairs of boots anyone could ever see.

Methinks Bill nailed it. Throughout my life, I have consistently been my own man.

During childhood, my parents always told us, “be who you are — not someone else.” And when I was a klutzy, uncoordinated, scrawny kid — I had no other choice. I knew that I wasn’t going to be my twin brother who looked and dressed the part of a naturally graceful athlete in step with current fashion. At times I felt out-of-place.

When I was in my teens, I was conscious of what other guys were wearing. Like lemmings, classmates glommed onto bell bottom jeans and “Chuck’s All Star” sneakers (which we called tennis shoes, but they were really made for basketball, go figure). I didn’t like bell bottoms because they caused me to trip and personally, I thought they looked weird. I didn’t like “Chuck’s” because I never liked to tie shoes. So even back when I was in my early teens, I stepped out in straight-leg jeans and boots. (and only wore sneakers for the mandatory gym class.)

When my friends we wearing tie-dyed t-shirts to emulate the hippies of the ’70s, I stuck pretty much to regular, unprinted t-shirts, jeans, and boots. Even at the beach — there I was, in a t-shirt, jeans, and boots.

In the mid-’70s when I entered college, fashion consciousness hit a new level with all the students trying to fit in and conform to the UOD (uniform of the day). Wide lapels, long, untucked shirts, bleached jeans, and really long hair were the norm. And ubiquitous sneakers–I could understand that considering the distances we had to hike all over the sprawling campus. But there I was — t-shirt, jeans, and (Frye) boots. And shoulder-length hair. Okay, I admit, I gave in somewhat to fashion by letting my hair grow and wearing Fryes like a lot of other guys did. But that was about my only foray into fashion.

In the early 80s and thereon, I got tired of having to wash a mop on my head every day, so I cut it short and kept it that way. I learned that Frye boots look good, but more comfortable boots were available, so I started wearing different cowboy boots. I liked how they looked with the clothes that I wore to work.

I also wore motorcycle boots more often as I bought my first bike in 1982 and began commuting with it even back then.

I rebelled against unstated and dictated dress codes in the office. “Why do I have to wear a tie? Ties are useless nooses that add nothing but a feeling of being choked,” I would rant. “Why do I have to wear a jacket? In this heat?” was a frequent comment. And when someone would make a remark about my boots, I would say, “my cowboy boots or shined motorcycle boots look better than your frumpy dress shoes” … yep, even back in the day of my early career, I was wearing boots with dress clothes in the office. I fought back against what I perceived to be social norms with no purpose.

I did not give credence to the “dress for success” guys — you know, the ones who write fashion articles in newspapers and magazines suggesting that men who are in entry-level positions need to dress for the position they want to be promoted to.

Hell, I was never one of those people who had a personal succession plan to trample over others through aggressive ambition. Sure, I didn’t want to remain at a lower-paying job for the rest of my life, but I wasn’t going to adopt a costume and play a person who I was not. That is, I refused to be an actor in a play. Instead, I was (and am) the first introduction to what you call “reality TV” these days. What you saw was what you got — a genuine, honest-to-goodness man who got the job done regardless of what clothes he was wearing or what footwear was on his feet.

I focused on more education, training, and willingness to “get my hands dirty.” I did lots of “grunt work” and “did my time” in the trenches. I continued to pursue a higher level in my career by building my credibility with those I served. I supported my professional association and networked with people who could, by acknowledging and collaborating with me, help reinforce to the boss du jour that perhaps I was worthy of consideration for promotion.

But back to the topic that Bill mentioned in his comment —

… you remind all of your readers that they too need not settle for subjugation by what the conventional received wisdom may be.

He is soooo very right. No one must accept or settle that what conventional wisdom dictates is correct. Doing so is a form of subjugation. Gay men, straight men, … whoever … be who you are — not what others tell you to be.

When you conform to what others choose to wear or adhere to style directives dictated in on-line articles, you are giving up your freedom of choice and become yet another clone. I pity those who do that because they demonstrate fear of being different and fear of what they think others may say. Of anything, I am not a fearful man.

I choose to spend my free time with the man I married and love deeply. It is our choice that we relax at home instead of go out to eat or to a club. I choose to spend time helping senior pals live safely in the home they enjoy, rather than box them up and ship them out to a “home” (if not medically indicated.) I hop on the saddle of my motorcycle and ride for transportation (commuting/errand-running) as well as for fun (to the extent that I have time.)

I disdain focus on fashion and the prices thereunto pertaining. Why? I am frugal (son of parents who lived through the Great Depression). But don’t tell me that a pair of regular Wranglers at US$30 is worse than your pair of overpriced overwashed overskinnies.

Don’t call me cheap, though. I probably have some pairs of boots in my collection that cost more than a pair of the finest (dorky) dress shoes in your closet. I shop carefully for decent pricing on my boots, but I don’t go for cheap Chinese-made junk, either.

Perhaps over time on this blog, I have targeted the icon of mummified habit and unthinking conformity that GQ or the latest queen “style guy” author wants you to be. My overall statement: be your own man! You can succeed. You can find a mate and marry. You can have a home of your dreams. It IS all possible without conforming to conventions. I am living proof!

Life is short: be an enlightened iconoclast!

7 thoughts on “Targetting the Icon of Mummified Habit and Unthinking Conformity

  1. You’re right, BHD, Bill nailed it! The chorus from the song lyric by India Aire comes to mind frequently as I remember to be myself:

    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am not your expectations no
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am a soul that lives within

    –Kevin

    • Thanks, Kevin. I always appreciate your comments and support. I have no idea what India Aire is, but I find the lyrics to be quite applicable for this blog post. Thank you, as always, for opening my mind to new things.

  2. BHD, you made my night. I just walked in after hearing a surprisingly uninteresting performance of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony. You know, the one with the Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven? The last movement of that symphony was used in, among other movies, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and preaches the brotherhood of mankind. That work should be an emotional highpoint in anyone’s classical music experience but the performance I heard left me feeling ‘meh’. I’ve heard it several times before, so I know it well enough to make a judgment and know what I should feel afterwards. This time I felt nothing, nada, zip. I felt as unimpressed and emotionless as a zombie in a mannequin storeroom.

    Then I came home, turned on my computer and found BHD had not only quoted me approvingly in his blog but also used my words to demonstrate to his readers how he had lived as his own man and – by extension – how they too could live and possibly achieve their own happiness and sense of fulfillment. Wow! At that moment, I felt that feeling of elation and exultation I ought to have felt after the Beethoven performance. So who needs Ludwig van when we’ve got BHD? Besides: I somehow don’t think LvB ever looked as good in boots as BHD does. And you just know Ludwig would’ve drooled over a Harley, don’t you?

    Thank you for the high compliment of quoting me in your blog, BHD.

    • You went out to see a concert on a weeknight? At night? Your stamina is incredible. I was long in beddie-bye land probably before the show started. And we’re in the same time zone!

      Just goes to show that all men are different — biologically, including the biological clock (giggle).

      I am pleased you enjoyed my blog post. Well-deserved commentary about you because it was obvious that you spent a lot of time and thought in writing the comment on my post that derived this separate post. Thank you again. I am honored with your thoughtful attention and praise. 🙂

  3. I’m in my 40’s.

    I wish I had learned this stuff 20 years ago. I think I would have been a happier man.

    Too soon old, too late smart.

    • No, as long as there’s life, there’s opportunity. How old will you be when you don’t do something you wanted to try? Answer: exactly the same age you’ll be if you do try.

      Whatever it may be, GO FOR IT!

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