Of all the roles I play in this life, some selected but most spontaneous, Nights At The Improv roles, the weirdest has to be fashion cop.
It only happens when I’m anonymous, which usually means I’m wandering through a store when I spot a lady who jumped on the yoga pants wagon without turning her back to the mirror and looking over her shoulder, if you follow. The teenager trying on looks and getting it very wrong. The middle-aged man who…well. Just about everything they wear, really.
I observe, I make mental notes. I judge. Oh yeah.
It’s weird because I have absolutely no baseline here. I’m not out wandering through the social world, or the business world, or the travel world or club world or whatever world there is where certain clothes are worn and others are not. I have a vague sense of what not to wear at a funeral (e.g., sweat pants) but otherwise I’m an amateur. I have no business analyzing these choices.
But I do, sometimes, and I suspect it’s self defense. If I figure out what mistakes others are making, it’s possible I can avoid those same mistakes. No one would ever suppose, of course, that I know anything at all. Just look at me.
This is just people watching, though, snark from a distance, a bored response to routine, just something to do. I barely notice at other times and, again, I have no standard to bump up against. I’m just observing the yoga pants and thinking no. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t care.
I could make a whole list about not caring, too.
I don’t care if your pants are baggy and falling down.
Unless we’re standing in the middle of a room made out of straw soaked in gasoline, I don’t care if you smoke.
I don’t care about your politics.
I don’t care about your car, or your haircut, or your tattoos or piercings.
I don’t care if I have to push “1” for English.
I don’t care if you collect unemployment and food stamps and your bloodstream is crawling with cannabinoids and cocaine. I can’t even imagine caring. I would be embarrassed if I cared.
I don’t care if you write “your” and mean “you’re.” Really? Like I’ve never made a mistake.
I don’t care what slang you use, even if I secretly run to the Urban Dictionary afterwards to figure it out.
I don’t care about your hair length, your bumper sticker, your eyeglasses, your earrings, or your shoes that look really uncomfortable.
And I don’t care who you love.
I also don’t care if a casual dismissal of the grammar rules regarding subjects and objects irritates you. Whom you love is of no concern to me either.
You understand that I don’t mean you, of course. I mean strangers, people I don’t know and never will, people I spot in the produce section or on the street. Just so we’re clear. Sometimes I care a lot.
There are some other things I might want to care about, though. Wars in our name. Inequality in many forms. Anybody following the weather? Anybody wonder about those bankers from a few years ago, and why they’re not in jail? Anybody watch the Hispanic kid, born and raised in San Antonio, sing the national anthem at the Spurs game and then read the comments from the vaguely human lifeforms that thrive on YouTube?
Et cetera. We can all make our lists; the world is full of worries. It’s not incomprehensible that someone would go through life nitpicking their neighbors, but I don’t have the energy. I can’t care.
And at the bottom of my list is love and all its accessories, sex and passion and commitment and friendship. I wish you luck in love, and success, but that’s as much as I can muster up.
Look: I get it. I’ve been alive for nearly 55 years; you learn things. I know that many people are uncomfortable with strange and different things, particularly when it comes to the behavior of others. I know that some people form an idea, or have it formed for them, then slap a layer of concrete over that and call it done. I know that some people are taught to hang their hats on a few stray verses out of over 30,000 in the Bible and condemn love as perversity just because they can, because they can say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” and get to use the word “hate” without taking any heat.
I’ve spent the past year working with a group of passionate, enormously talented young people who want to tell a story about love, and how complicated it can be. It’s a story that attempts to give an authentic voice to people who have genuine conflict with same-sex attraction, and to show that with enough love – romantic love, parental love, filial love – it’s possible to achieve acceptance, tolerance, and understanding.
It’s been an amazing experience, and a year from now it’ll be a finished film, shot entirely in Washington and featuring a remarkably talented cast (plus me) and crew.
And it’s our hope that when it’s finished, and seen, it will ll inspire conversations about what’s possible, about how we work through our differences, and about how we can learn what we really care about, and what we really don’t. Including yoga pants.