Monday, March 8, 2010
YAMBAR VS THE TUXEDO
One of the hardest things to do in my profession(s) is to put on a tuxedo. Writing a story about a brain chewing zombie demon, an impish yellow kid with a paper bag haircut, preparing a sermon or lecture for a church or public gathering of professionals = No biggie. Painting a minimum of a hundred new paintings a year or traveling to 25 + cities a year for signings and interviews = Begin party mode. Self publishing comic books and graphic novels and working with popular characters to be enjoyed by the planet = I relish the moment. Getting me to wear those Pat Boone shoes while attempting to adjust those damn tightening thingies on the sides of my tux pants so that they won't fall down at a fundraiser = Sheer hell on earth. I hate it!
I grew up disliking suits of every kind. It always seemed kind of stupid to wear a suit to a funeral because the guy is dead and doesn't really care at the moment. I always thought it was silly for professional people to have to wear suits and look the same as the next guy. They should just wear hats. This concept was probably created by people who print business cards to distinguish and separate the professionals at bars and parties. Wearing a suit also allows bums to lie about who they are and how successful they may be. Snake oil salesmen always wear a fresh smelling suit. Baptists wear suits. Elected officials wear suits. Watch some TV. You'll notice that the majority of the world's problems are created by someone wearing a professional suit of some kind.
What's up with ties?! They were created to be food stain catchers, people! They are over glorified BIBS! I'm not kidding. Adult professionals are walking around the earth wearing designer slop catchers. And how black people can wear anything around their necks is beyond me! History proves that that is always a bad idea.
The tuxedo, however, is a higher grade of suit. It is supposed to speak of wealth and class. Really? To me it always seemed to be an excuse to dress like the help. Unlike the French Maid uniform, which has it's own special advantages, the tuxedo seems confused about it's identity. Some buy it to serve drinks and collect tips. Others wear one as some special statement about their class or financial success. I never know who to tip. The Penguin always wears a tux and gets punched in the face by Batman. Whatever the reason, they usually run $200 - $500 to own (with all the gear) or can be rented for $49.99 - $120.00 a weekend depending on which money pit you decide to contract with.
Putting on a tuxedo is painful. The shirt always rides up and gets untucked around the third drink. The one side tightening thingy on the pants gets loose or undone and you get that Tom Waits look. The more you fiddle with it the worse it gets. You should try taking a pee in one of these get-ups. The shoes always pinch and who knows what fungus-footed freak wore them before you did. The waist-hugger always hikes north exposing a ring of belly white above the pants. You never know if the bow tie should be under or over the shirt necks pointy neck triangles. One cuff link is always missing. Who wears black socks in this day and age? The side pockets of the jacket are all sewn shut. The sleeves make you feel like either Frankenstein or a midget wearing sock puppets. The whole thing is a disaster.
Donating to charity events like Make A Wish is easy. You simply send them something nice for the auction and wait for the receipt in the mail. Every little bit helps. Giving is a good thing. You can't truly be a part of the human race without putting something back when the opportunity arises. Decorating a cowboy hat for a Big Brothers & Sisters in Idaho is a lot of fun and brings a bit of exotic out-of-town importance to the events auction. Showing up to do a reading for Amy Neral's First Book, an outreach that donates thousands of dollars worth of books to children who don't own a single one of their own, is a breeze. You're in and you're out. Sending signed comics, trading cards, toys and art prints through the mail is an easy way to encourage other people to drop a few more bucks into a worthy cause's kettle and get a bit of a collectible 'thank you' in return.
Being an active board member of a hands-on organization like Brenda Rider's A Way With Words Foundation, Inc. means putting in a few hours of actual long term activity. Fund raising for childhood cancer survivors is hard work. Gathering artists and creative types who want to sell their wares in a non-profit mall gallery-boutique and planning events a year or so in advance takes some mental effort. Finding the time to actually roll up the sleeves is the real task. The hours in any given day are just too few and the energy to perform is always depleted around 2 PM. Naps are a gift that you give yourself!
Then you meet the children cancer survivors who have beaten something meant for adults. No child should have to meet the spectre of death before the sweetness of life can be tasted. Somehow they find the ability to press on in spite of restrictions during the height of their youth. Brenda's choir kids record music and travel to nursing homes, city events, churches, schools and even children's hospitals to sing and bring a smile. There's hope in what they do.
Then there's Lucas Kuhlman who is pictured with me above. This 4 year old boy survived R.S.V. (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) when he was 45 days old. He was then diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that led him into open-heart surgery. Now he runs around dressed as Spider-Man and doesn't mind telling you all about it! I got the chance to jam with Lucas on a set of Spidey paintings which sold at this years American Heart Association Heart Ball for $850. Not a bad donation from a 4 year old super hero and a crazy pop artist.
Look. I will always dislike having to wear a tuxedo. I am told that I clean up rather well and that, even now, women all over the world are waiting in line for their chance to show me their French Maid uniforms. This I understand and accept as my cross to bear. But, y'know, deep down, regardless of my griping and moaning, wearing a tuxedo isn't as bad as I make it out to be. Hell, I even wore a tux with a bright pink tie during a Pink Tie Affair Cancer Awareness Fundraiser a few months back. I've come to see it as a badge of honor and a gift to those who are truly more than survivors. I do it for the children. And the ladies. But mostly for the children. They are a constant inspiration and always challenge me to reach a little higher. They bring out the best in me and strength from a place that I sometimes forget exists. Sigh. This round - tuxedo wins. And I'm OK with that.
Day-after bed head, however, also wins... but that is the subject for another entry.