Although the garment can be traced back to the monks who wore a robe with an attached cowl, it is Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in the boxing saga films who popularized the hooded sweatshirt (or “hoodie”) with the large pocket or muff sewn in the front. The first hoodie I bought is one which I still have (I’m wearing it now), a heavy bright orange production of cotton and polyester commissioned by Roots Canada and made in China. I have worn it so often and it has been washed so many times that the sleeve cuffs have developed holes. It is perpetually shrinking (or perhaps I am continuously enlarging) and is destined for the recycle bin very soon. Earlier this Spring I discovered Roots Canada made lightweight models of the same apparel (marketed as “Authentic Sporting Goods – Quality & Integrity” though this time with a higher polyester content) and I bought three of different colours, soft hues reminiscent of my leisure days on Cape Cod. These hoodies alternate as my clothes of choice, not just for bicycling (which I could happily do for an hour every day for the rest of my life) but generally for lounging. I’d wear the hoodie all the time if I could get away with it, and I pretty much do now that I am no longer working for a living and contemporaneously avoiding social functions like the installation ceremony for a Federal Court Judge to which we were invited in Toronto. When I was studying Philosophy as an undergraduate at Glendon Hall there was a peculiar Professor there who even on warm September days wore about three layers of clothes, a shirt, tweed vest and tweed sport coat. The speculation was that he sought to insulate himself from the world. There may have been some truth to that. Although I only employ the hood feature when I am taking a nap on the couch (to shelter my eyes from the streaming afternoon sunlight), I otherwise appreciate having the material about my neck (I oddly feel less vulnerable as I have always imagined women must feel in low-cut dresses). I buy the largest size to avoid constraint. “Built for comfort not speed”, I defensively quip, the unparalleled comedian that I am. Even when I was thin I preferred baggy clothes. Tight anything bothers the hell out of me.
Onto another subject. Music decidedly has its place. I’ve been known to make my share of it when I played the piano, venting my pent-up anxieties or dragging out some doleful piece sometimes bringing myself to tears just crying for no reason in particular moved by the pathos of life whatever that is. It’s impossible for me to feel sad about life. I’ve hardly suffered! Tears don’t mean I am sad. I can for example be hopelessly hung over and hear Luciano Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma from Pucini’s opera Turandot and begin to wail uncontrollably. I recall when I bought my first stereo system one hundred years ago I persisted in playing it loudly to display its capacity but more to drown myself in the strength of the music. In my drinking days I would resort to the “American Songbook” to annoint the cocktail hour though I preferred classical music when it came to consummating my ceremony of martinis and Jane Austen. I reckoned she merited something more elegant than popular music. My aging mother reminds me constantly that she wants Ave Maria played at her funeral. She has long ago abandoned her ritual Catholic habits but like most Catholics she clings to the end to the religious connotations even in instances where atheism or neglect might be closer to the current creed. I recollect an elderly friend who never went to Church during the entire twenty-five years I knew him but he nonetheless orchestrated a traditional religious ceremony for his funeral. The priest was so obviously miffed by the last minute affront that he refused to attend the burial ceremony at the grave site though he had glad-handed the congregation and supervised the circulation of the collection plate at the church. At least the priest didn’t have the impudence to show up at the deceased’s private dining club for the celebratory luncheon afterwards. The rest of us while sipping our midday bracers openly marvelled at his indignity.
Let’s take a gander at the more temporal subject of automobiles which are a North American ideology of sorts. While I might convincingly argue that Lincolns (my conveyance of choice) are extremely comfortable for the drive to Hilton Head Island I admit that automobiles are a pretence, a fictitious bubble of imaginary immunity. I am not proud of the confession but neither am I about to relinquish the absorption. It frightens me to think I might otherwise be mediocre and uninteresting. Small wonder I dote upon the object. The only way to rationalize having an expensive automobile would be if it were for speed or performance. My cars are about neither; they are metaphors for social superiority and isolation. They are specious islands of distinction like the former coach-and-four with its blazing brass, gilded ornaments and haughty occupants, the historical targets of popular disdain. My late teetotal father explained his addiction to “fine automobiles” by saying he decided early in life that he couldn’t afford drink and costly cars. Somehow his predilection was therefore excusable and never smacked of arrogance. His father used to drive seven-passenger Packards with sixteen cylinders and a chandelier in the back. Likely automobiles are a manifestation of my personal insecurity but I am too old to rebel or reform. Besides I’ve already given up Rolex watches and sterling silver flatware.
Reasoning and thought while not painful for me are nonetheless work. For most of my life I sought to ride upon my education and what I managed to harvest from the shared intelligence of others. I’ve now hit that wall which reminds me that the universe is ultimately personal. I’m sailing in my own little skiff upon the vast open waters of life. In what time remains I intend to be part of history howsoever insignificantly. All that I have recorded is in digital form only suspended in cybernetics. One has to wonder how boundless that domain is, will it ever run out of space, will everything get erased either by necessity or by accident? I’ve long ago given up printing anything I record. I trashed forty years of handwritten and typed diaries when we downsized.