Thursday, May 04, 2006

Winter Into Spring

When I first moved to Chicago, I thought of winters here as being like Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Just when you began to feel it was really gone, up popped a sequel, even though nobody had enjoyed the last one and certainly didn't want another.

These days, I think of winter in Chicago as being more like Madonna. It returns, year after year, shrieking and wailing and trying desperately to impress. Fact is, honey, we've seen it all. Blow all you want, but you done used up all the tricks in your bag.

Now when October comes I just sigh and do my best to ignore it.* And please don't give me any hippie New Age crap about how one ought to "live in harmony" with the seasons and enjoy what each of them has to offer. People who say such things do not live in Chicago. Trying to live in harmony with a Chicago winter is like trying to do buddy yoga with a wet cat.

Winter 2006 was relatively mild, meaning that:
  1. There was a day in mid-February when I walked three blocks with my face uncovered.
  2. The wind off the lake slammed me into the side of my apartment building only twice.
  3. It's May and I'm not still wearing a wool overcoat and earmuffs.
I've just begun my annual springtime ceremony of Trying on Last Summer's Clothes. After a bad winter, this can be a supremely depressing exercise. You pull out this kicky pair of shorts that you wore all over the place, and think of afternoons on the grass in Lincoln Park, or bike rides along the lake, or a music festival where everything was just as it ought to be for an entire day. Then you put the shorts on, and discover that what hung loosely and fetchingly about your hips in the best Boystown fashion in August now clings like Tom Cruise on Katie Holmes.

It takes the zing right out of the daffodils.

This year, not so bad. Small repairs to the trim, rather than major renovations to the infrastructure. And I'm not looking at anything I wore and wincing, as I did in the Year of the Capri Pants. (All pictures have been burned, as have the pants, so don't even ask.)

Of course, other gay men tend to look at my wardrobe and wince. If I lived in New York City and walked through Chelsea in my usual summer ensemble I'd get shot. When I used to have to hang out for hours every Sunday with Mr. Ex at one of our big local bars, the only guys who ever hit on me were the ones with a straight guy fantasy. They assumed from my sub-par attire that I had ventured to the Other Side of the Tracks for an afternoon.**

I can make it halfway to gay–maybe get the shirt right, for example. But then I put on shorts with a belt instead of without, or whatever the regulation is that week, and Greg Louganis starts pounding on my door demanding the surrender of my membership card.

Spring is supposed to be a time of renewal and rebirth. Maybe I need a gay makeover. Any of you Chelsea boys make house calls?

*Also my approach to Madonna.
** Apologies to the metrosexuals. I hope I didn't hurt your feelings. Go get a pedicure, you'll feel better.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Give me your membership card!

Signed,

Greg

David said...

I'm no Chelsea boy either. I refuse to abandon denim shorts. I'm afraid I won't be much help.

DianeS said...

Chicago sounds tough; not the weather, it's just as bad, if not worse, here in western New York state, but having to wear the right clothes all the time. I had no idea there was a uniform/dress code.

And I agree about that harmony thing. You fight winter tooth and nail with all you've got to get through it. The worst part for me is usually the unremitting grey skies for weeks at a time (sometimes dropping snow on you for weeks at a time.)

Chicago Jen said...

Oh Franklin, you always make me laugh. I miss summers in Lincoln Park and walks through Boys Town (always great Bird Watching) where I grew up back in the day when it wasn't quite so crowded. Now, I live in the "We Drive Everywhere Suburbs" of Wheeling.

Feh.

And thanks so much for the pointer to Poll Host.

Jax said...

It's okay, hon, you're not the only one. My brother-in-law is stuck in khakis-and-plaid-shirt mode, and is soon to become a firefighter. He likes and understands football. Very straight guy. He is convinced he will never find a decent boyfriend. You and C can give him hope.

Kathleen said...

I'm so confused. Can't you just...wear what you want? Is that too radical an idea?

Ted said...

I'm with Kathleen. But then as gay men go, I'm considered a totally hopeless case.

Jon said...

At least you get weather in the winter. Our winter waits until Spring and then it comes with vengence....

Just wait until August, baybee....shorts all the way.

Jacquie said...

I know what you mean. I have been too scared to even look at last year's summer clothes - I just know it's not going to be pretty.

Lisa said...

The thought of bringing out last summers clothes fills me with such dread.....shiver.

Wear what ya want Franklin, who needs another stereotypical gay man?

All the Way With Knitting said...

Cheer up Franklin..we had a warm day here ...it is 6.30pm and a thunder-storm is brewing.They say English summer is one hot day and a thunderstorm so looks like we had it already.You might find it hard to believe this but as a straight teenager living in a working-class area I got close to being beaten up because I wore hippy stuff...strictly considered middle-class at the time.Female skinheads were not happy bunnies and then there is Jeff..I got called some choice things from passing cars ..oh well .

Juno said...

Somewhere around the wind slamming you into your building Only Twice I had to carefully put my diet coke down, lest it be snarfed.

The there was just the helpless giggling.

Ethan said...

Sing out sister! The nightmare of clothing... and San Diego is the home of the needlessly obsessed with attire. I am the schlumpo in the corner who just wanted to have a drink and enjoy the company of friends. But then I realize I must have been having a stroke when I put the shirt I am wearing on. Or bought it.

Mel said...

My wardrobe consists largely of LL Bean and TJ Maxx. And some really nice outerwear in alpaca, too, but that doesn't see too much use in the summer and I had to sleep with the designer to get it. Nobody will ever, ever mistake me for a club kid, though.

Norskybear said...

Chelsea boys cross the street when they see me. I'm afraid that I'm no help anymore. OUT magazine looks like it's a foreign language publication...

debsnm said...

HA! There's a reason I'm in NM and not Chicago/Minnesota/anywhere north of here!!! I wore my summer clothes most of the winter, with just an added sweater (sometimes a REALLY HEAVY sweater). The only down side is the really wicked drought/fire season we are currently enjoying. oh, and those who strap teeny, tiny sticks to their feet and hurl themselves down the mountain were none-too-happy, but, oh well!

debsnm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lee Ann said...

Well you won't hear any New Age hippie crap from me, honey...I live in Montréal, where we have Celine Dion winters (which just REFUSE to go away, the bad hair and the bad voice are permanent, and dude, it not only procreated, it had twins...aie, I can't even talk about it).

For two weeks in summer I get to walk around in a skimpy tank top and not give a flying you know what that there are curves where there shouldn't be. Summer's too short to worry about it.

Think I'll go knit me a bikini.

Nelly O said...

Jax, I have this friend in MN who's a really nice guy and single. He doesn't have a whole lot of fashion sense, either. I just bet your brother-in-law would really like him. My friend is quite into firefighters, so it could be a great match. Franklin knows my friend and finds him pretty tolerable. I would be more than happy to introduce your b-i-l to my friend.

c said...

Just finished reading your essay at Knitting Beyond the Hebrides. Lovely. And I've saved your cartoon, as well as sent it to all my knitting friends. Thanks for the cartoon, and for the fun of your blog - especially Dolores, of course! Hee, hee!

Carrie K said...

Chicago in winter is why California exists.

C'mon. Madonna can't be done yet. Maybe Dolores can take her in hand. Hoof.

Franklin said...

Nelly, the plaid-wearing gay firefighter was mentioned on MY blog so you just tell your "friend" to cool his jets before I bitch-slap him. Dibs.

And for record, I just wanna dress better. I have the fashion sense of tree stump. And I think this is sad. I need to be on one of those shows where they set fire to your closet and make you go out and buy everything new.

Barb B. said...

I used to be in style, when I lived waaaay in the bush on the west coast. Floater jackets and jeans were in. Here in Alberta, the Redneck province (yes, it is. But I like it here) jeans and a t-shirt or shorts and a t-shirt seem to be in style. I guess. No one has ever dropped their coffee or fainted dead away when I've walked down the street. Of course no one has hit on me either....hmmmm.

Angel said...

Spring and summer are a sort of contradiction for me- its hot as hell outside down here in the South but I spend most of my day writing in a library that is kept at sub-arctic temps....

One regional difference I noticed regarding spring/summer in the South: people wear hats.

I lived both out West and in the Northeast before moving to the South, and while I was accustomed to seeing people in hats in the winter- I had rarely ever seen anyone wear a summer hat. Now every spring the hats come out: usually large brimmed and straw for the women, sometimes with bows or flowers on them- occasionally huge and very Southern-Belle-ish (usually reserved for weddings, church or special occasions). Older men wear softer/floppier cotton hats and really hip men wear light-weight fedoras, or other snazzy types of headgear. Anyway- the parade of hats has begun to come out now, and its really something.

Time to bring out the hats Franklin. I bet you sould look so cute in a summer-weight fedora tilted just so.....

Ellen in Conn said...

Jax's brother in law is "a very straight guy" but he's looking for a man?? I am soooo confused.

Janice Flemming said...

Franklin,
You absolutely KILL me. I thorougly enjoy reading your blog and have also caught you on Brenda Dane's podcast where your essays and hosting are a total hoot.

You are a great talent and I look forward to more!
Janice

Rabbitch said...

"buddy yoga with a wet cat".

You owe me another keyboard.

Celtic Knitter said...

Oh, my, I'm in the same boat I'm afraid. Well, i don't know that I fit into any straight boy fantasy but I certainly couldn't hang out with the queens in Chelsea.

My sister says I need Queer Eye for the Queer guy!!

CateK said...

There was a good reason I lived in Chicago for only one year then moved back to Virginia... the winter! It went to 81 degrees below zero with the wind chill for three solid days in 1982 and I left as soon a the thaw arrived sometime that August.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the weather....move dearest.

They don't pay real money in Florida, but its always "warm" here.

People still wear sweaters?????

Love....

the fiddlin' fool said...

My attire is so guy, I could never be confused for a gay man.

Sherry W said...

I can understand the wardrobe thing. Most days I think someone is going to take away my 'straight woman' card. A silk blouse goes with combat boots, right?

Windsornot said...

I can totally, TOTALLY appreciate your approach to Chicago winters. Even though I'm a Jersey (not Joisey--nobody but the New Yawkers say that) girl, the basic principle is the same, just about 90% as cold as Chicago. So I'm with you on that one. Also with the clothes and the wincing and that whole assessment. I'm going through that wardrobe assessment too, and honey, you are coming out a whole lot better than me! :-(

Milinda said...

Okay, I want to hear more about the "buddy yoga with a wet cat." Do tell.

Jay said...

You know, Franklin, I'm surprised at you. An up-standing member of the knitting community, a proud gay man, and a manic... well, I'll leave that one to you. My point is that I thought you were an individual. Dolores has obviously been needling you about your attire... don't listen to her. I mean, she wear wool, and then a bikini, and then a Carmen Miranda hat and Dame Edna glasses... what's up with that!?
Besides, when I'm hitting on a guy it's not what he looks IN his clothes that I care about...

Anonymous said...

You know that if you look up "straight-acting" in a dictionary, the definition is "A gay man who doesn't love Madonna.", right? Or maybe that's just a Swedish thing.
/Monika

All the Way With Knitting said...

Love what Jay has to say..that said I am constantly trying to think how to get my gay friend out of almost 100% beige .He came round a while ago in jeans ( new) and a black leather jacket and I nearly fell down my front steps.I'd love him in beige cos he's a lovely guy ( if I was a gay man obv.) but a little colour !

Felicia said...

Oh stop! You, my darling, could make a potato sack look fetchingly handsome! I find it hard to believe anything you wore last summer, you couldn't put on right now.

Colorado has been cold, wet, and dreary. Perfect for knitting!

Thanks for all your good words over at my blog. As always, you remain a gentleman in a world full of people who think your tribe of men have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

amysue said...

We could nominate you for 'What not to Wear'-it would make it the best episode ever. If only we were all small kids again, below the age of 12 you can basically wear anything:any color, any pattern any mix of any color and pattern and you look wonderful, cute and amazing, then the crushing demands of the fashion police take over and few of us are ever so carefree again!

Nelly said...

Oooo, Franklin. You threatened to bitch slap me. Do it again! Do it again! You're so hot when you get all forceful. But capri pants? That's a picture I'm trying to get out of my brain. Were they at least leather?

Liz said...

Do you have to give back the toaster as well?

You could come down to Texas. No winter to speak of but we've already broken the 100F mark this year. Although I'd be willing to bet the fashion rules are even more bitchy down here.

goblinbox said...

Thank you. I feel the same way about Madge.

AngeliasKnitting said...

Hehe! Chicago winters. I lived in North Chicago when I was in Kindergarten-Second grade and all I remember is snow. Maybe one ot two nice days. But snow. And cold. And having to wear a **shudder** ski mask (because of the wind chill).

Sarah said...

I read this post and couldn't help but think of the Glen Phillips album entitled Winter Pays for Summer. It's a thought, I suppose.

www.natalia.biz said...

This will not really work, I suppose this way.