Def: o'kay ter'ri'fic: 1.common expression of muted astonishment due to being surrounded by amazing stupidity, without quite knowing what else to say. 2.expression that usually precedes the changing of a subject brought up by an individual who is perfectly clueless to anything or anyone outside their own narcissistic corner of the universe. Origin: Unknown

Location: Bergen County, New Jersey, United States

Steven Hill is the author of the independently published A VOICE ABOVE THE DIN, available at www.lulu.com/holbrookhill, or Amazon or B&N.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Renaissance Man?

I’m not one to blow my own horn, but I often secretly fancy myself to be a modern-day Renaissance Man. (While the laughter from My Better Half dies down, allow me to explain.) Note my qualifications. I have a little knowledge about a lot of subjects. I’m a perfect Jack-of-all-trades, expert at none. I can fix most minor--and some major--home repairs. I can cook, if I absolutely have to. I can clean better than most guys, if that makes any sense! I have a respectable job, a nice home in a bucolic Bergen County town, a beautiful more-than-capable-wife, 3.4 well adjusted kids, and a gaggle of pets skittering about on any given day.

More importantly, I’d like to think that I’m still hip. But considering the fact that my demographics put me smack in between the Gen X-ers and the Baby Boomers, the truth is, I’m probably not. So after taking a long and pathetic look in the mirror, I decided to be bold and take matters into my own hands and reclaim my mojo.

A few years ago, I came upon an advertisement scouting for male makeover subjects for a new series to debut on Bravo TV. The Queer Eye For The Straight Guy sounded curious enough, so I shot off an email accompanied by a photo of myself in my usual bland, slightly mismatched attire. They responded with a questionnaire. Tongue in cheek, I filled it out to the best of my ability--though I still have no clue as to what bouillabaisse is! Lo and behold, the producers called me up. They wanted to send a camera crew to my house for a thirty-minute test screening to determine whether or not I fit the bill. Sounded great to me. In the meantime, while I racked my brain to figure out how to break the news to My Better Half that five gay guys were going to invade our house and give me a much needed makeover, the producers called back. Turns out I wasn’t makeover material after all. I only lagged in the Dress and Food & Wine departments. My Grooming, Decorating, and Culture departments were satisfactory. They wanted losers across the board, not partial ones. So now, of course, the show is a big hit, I missed out on a much-needed free wardrobe and what-do-gay-guys-do-with-bouillabaisse tips, and I’m right back where I started. The issue of my hipness was still very much in question.

Shortly thereafter, I came home to a large package on my bed. It was a bag with three shoeboxes in it along with a note signed by My Better Half, that read: “THIS IS THE STRAIGHT GIRL’S EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY.” Now, keep in mind, I’m not one to go shopping. I’ve got no patience for it. In fact, I hadn’t bought new shoes for myself since the Israelites trekked through the wilderness 4,500 years ago. So I tried them on. The first pair were brown Oxfords. Stylish and classic, they fit great. The next pair were black casual slip-ons. Perfect, I love convenience. Who wants to be bothered by that old fashioned shoe-tying ritual anyway? The last pair was black, dressy, and well . . . indescribable. They were really wide at the toe--runway wide. I could just hear Enron’s corporate 737s taxiing up for departure. And because of the fit, I needed a size 12 instead of my requisite 11, which made them look even more like clown shoes.

“Trust me,” My Better Half said soothingly. “They’re ‘in’. All the new styles are like that.”

Ignoring my gut-like reservations about the newly acquired scuba flippers, I donned them the very next weekend for a semi-formal affair. Needless to say, I was both excited and nervous to see if anyone would notice. The first person to say something was my 17-year-old niece. Great, I thought. She’s the living, breathing definition of hip. I’ll take her opinion any day.

“Nice treads Uncle Steve,” she’d said. “Very cool. But what are ya hidin’ under there, Hobbit feet?”

Suddenly, feeling hip was no longer tops on my list. I was more concerned about how to get rid of those flappers to avoid any further embarrassment. Perhaps I could donate them to the local foot fetish club? Or maybe the Queer Guys could use them for re-spackling some sad sack’s apartment on their next show?

In the end, though, I still have the shoes. Actually, they’ve grown on me to the point where I kind of like them. And why not? After all, I am a Renaissance Man, aren’t I?

© 2003 Steven H. Hill


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