Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Power of Italian Loafers

I like nice shoes. For some time, almost all my dress shoes have been Italian loafers like those depicted in the photo. I have them in black. I have them in Brown. I have them in Cordovan. I will wear them here, or there. I will wear them anywhere. They are well made and have a sleek line to them. Now, I know some will raise an eyebrow at the combination of kiltie and tassel but I allow myself little theatrical touches from time to time. They amuse me and brighten the moments when I find myself looking at my feet.

Never underestimate the effect that great shoes can have on the viewing public. If you are religious at keeping them clean and well polished, that is. Nothing says "I am not a person you want to meet" faster than scuffed, unshined shoes. Ladies have known this for a long time. No less a personage than Matlock, the television lawyer, always hand shined his own shoes before going into court. When asked why he engaged in this ritual, Matlock said that when he first walked into court, everyone in the room looked at the little crack between the sole and the upper portion of his shoes to see if they were shined properly. All gentlemen used to know things like this.

Gentlemen are fewer and farther between these days. Ladies have known that for a long time too. Whether gentleman or not, there are times when a seemingly small choice such as a man's footwear can determine on which side of a potentially Dangerous Situation one finds oneself.

I travel a lot tending the matters of my clients. In every town I frequent I have a carefully selected lounge that serves as my clubhouse, thus keeping me from explorations that can, if left unchecked, turn easily into distractions and then slide headlong into fiascos. Along those lines, there used to be a particular bar in Atlanta I would patronize whenever I was in town. Many Epic stories have their inception in that bar but for legal and other reasons they will never be found in these posts. For example, a Pretty Woman purloined my gold lighter there once but I didn't hold it against her. She needed it more than I did. She actually smoked while I only used it as a prop.

The place was in a little house and had a swanky feel. The furniture was comfortable chairs and sofas placed for intimacy and lit by those small, dim lamps that you only find in the most worthy establishments. A small bar was located at the back of the main room and there was a working fireplace and a party room in the basement. I usually went there alone and sat at the bar, the better to soak up not only cocktails but also the fascinating conversation of the (much) younger tipplers who frequented the place. I was the only person I ever saw there wearing a suit. Which, of course, I always wore.
The night of the Dangerous Situation it was cold outside, the fireplace was crackling inside, and I was having a Manhattan. Or two. A fellow I can only describe as a lout was sitting next to me just sloshing down martinis and getting proportionally more inane. You know the type. The only other person nearby was Monika, the bartender.

It is well established that a great bar must have a great bartender. Monica fit into this category with ease, remembering even the sporadic customer like a regular and making fine drinks as well. Before I had any inkling of the impending D.S., Monica and I were engaged in a stimulating conversation about jewelry design. She was attending design school and was wearing several of her own jewelry creations including a rather striking leather choker number sporting a dazzling array of shiny dots. I wouldn't say that her necklace was exactly a collar with metal studs on it but it was something along those lines. Anyhow, it looked great on her.

In my experience, you can be in a perfectly secure appearing place and yet never know how close a D.S. may be lurking. Unknown to me, my conversation with Monika was making the lout jealous due to his attempts to engage her in conversation. These efforts earned him the cold shoulder, delivered in the way that only a lady bartender can give you the cold shoulder. To recap the score just before the D.S. manifested itself we saw one (rather) older, suited, fellow attempting to ignore a (now) drunken lout who was himself being ignored by the prima bartender. A wicked triangle had developed. And as many of you no doubt know, a drunken and frustrated lout is a singular hazard.

Finally, the lout turned to me and asked in a menacing tone (the worst of all the tones in the drunken lout repertoire): "Tell me something, are you GAY?" I raised an eyebrow and begged his pardon, to which he repeated the question adding "You must be gay, you are drinking a pink drink." At this juncture, I thought it apropos to point out that

a. Colors are just colors. Not sexual manifestos.

b. In any event, a properly made Manhattan is AMBER in color, not PINK, and

c. If I were gay, he would not be the one.

My first point was without question and needed no proof. The reader can view the following conclusive evidence of my second point:

You will just have to take my word for the third point.

You see, I went to a really good school. I learned a few things about classical argumentation. Little things like the sophisticated argument set out above (at no cost to you) that can be deployed against the armies of Drunken Louts roaming the landscape. It's what I do. The effect of my argument seemed, as always, to depend on the recipient. Monika burst out laughing and gave me a free drink. The lout turned again to me seeming even more red faced than previously. Take it from me, to be suddenly confronted in a nice bar by a drunken lout who has misplaced his sense of humor is not a pretty thing. Actually, I am not sure that a lout HAS a sense of humor. In the event, the D.L. sneered to Monika "how come you bought HIM a drink and not ME?" The effort required for him to put this thought together caused the D.L. to tumble off his bar stool backward and he landed on his back, feet up in the air. I was impressed. A full- on road kill landing like that has at least a six point degree of difficulty the last time I looked it up.

Monika looked over the bar and replied "He gets a free drink because he has manners and he is wearing Italian loafers. You are rude and have Hush Puppies sticking up in the air." The D.L., having reached an effective altitude for footwear observation, goggled at my loafers and passed out leaving me to ponder whether I had effected my first argumentative knock out. The bar is still there I guess but I haven't been there in a long time. I got tired of the wider and wider gap between my age and the rest of the customers that caused me to feel like a character in St. Elmo's Fire. I found another clubhouse in Atlanta. I still buy the same loafers.

Buy the best shoes you can afford. Keep them properly maintained. You will feel great wearing them no matter what else happens during your day. And they are Kryptonite to louts.


Unknown said...

Hello, I like your story, especially the part about color not stating your sexuality. It takes a secure man to understand,and practice that! Best, Becs

Petunia said...

Great story!
I can empathise with the St Elmo's Fire peering-through-the-window feeling!

M.Lane said...

Becs, thanks for your nice comment and your return visit!!

Petunia, I laughed so hard at "peering-through-the-window"...that was exactly what I meant.