Looking the Part

My jacket is dry now, and mostly clean. Within it I'm warm.
But the cuts from crystalline granite don't wash out. Barefoot on brick I grope for a light switch. My hands create currents in the stagnant basement air. Knuckles hit brick and mortar, opening my almost-healed gobies. That'll look real professional in the interview.

I should be able to locate this switch in the dark, especially since I just left the basement five minutes ago. The bulb snaps backto life, confining shadows to the farthest corners and behind the biggest boxes. I can detail the properties of three space-age fabrics on my aging softshell, but still require a rematch with my as-yet-unpresentable shirt. Even at 5'9" I have to duck beneath rafters, moving to the table and my still-hot iron.

I plug it in anyway. Fully committed.

And lay my shirt, 'The Shirt', across the board's gaudy floral print. A wedding gift from my parents, I was married in it and waited tables in it, staining the front with $90 wines nightly specials. But it's my fraying softshell that magically fits just right. I'll take the de-laming hood and sticky zipper over a poorly-starched collar and cufflinks. With my jacket on I'm atop a new route in Patagonia, or chicken-wining my way through a wet slot on a FFA I never thought would 'go'. But "Job Interview for Dummies" didn't mention interviewers swooning over Schoeller. The iron steams and I'm back in the basement.

"Are these wrinkles growing?" This shouldn't be the "5.10" of modern Americana. For everyone else, it's more like the tie-in knot. I thought I'd done a good-enough job the first time. And if job interviews were all held in similarly dim, mirrorless basements, I would have. A new tie, my concession to modernity, did little to hide to hide the wrinkles still in place after my first attempt. More Americans know the half-windsor than the figure-8, bowline, and clove hitch combined. But if I'm going to start each day by tying a noose around my neck, I resent not at least using something I could rap off.

Scraped knuckles brighten as I press harder. Prepping a costume I'm loath to don, I doubt I'm ironing so much as bludgeoning the fabric into submission. Maybe if I scrape off the oatmeal crust and rinse out the coffee stain, I can just sport outerwear at an interview.

I turn off the iron and grab my shirt. This time I remember to face the doorway before killing the light. Pacing memorized steps out past darkened coat hooks, I remove my jacket. And today I'll simply focus on feeling warm, without it.


  1. Nicely written, Blake. I could see this piece in the Mountain Gazette.

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