One of the things I envy most about my abah is that he’s skinny enough to put on a skinny tie. Like this morning while we were lacing our oxfords for work. Throw in a pair of worn Chuck Taylors into his ensemble, replete with a black and blue skinny paisley tie and he’d look like Johnny Knoxville in a GQ spread. I did one final check in the mirror before walking out the door and decided that I looked, in my HUGE red and blue striped tie, like a multi-level salesperson. Peddling ‘performance-enhancing’ cock-spray.
I had my own narrow neckwear aspirations but decided that I’d look like P. Ramlee waiting for his girlfriend at Zoo Negara in Masam Masam Manis. Not that that’s a bad thing. Nevermind that he just got out of work (he’s a teacher) and it was probably sweltering. As dashing a figure he was, it just wasn’t, well, flattering.
But sartorially speaking, skinny ties, like skinny jeans, work on skinny people. Even P, who’s developed the beginnings of a promising dad-belly, just about gets away with wearing one to his hotel’s anniversary dinner. In abah’s zegna 3 button jacket nevertheless, bought at one of the Sunday bundles.
Speaking of skinny jeans. While I was at primary school, just about all the cool kids wore tight pants. Thanks to the proliferation of local bands who wanted to be Van Halen or Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi. Being an impressionable young thing, I wanted a pair too. The problem was (and always have been) that I am, well, pudgy. Not grossly obese but definitely not as tall and lanky as Sebastian Bach (Skid Row vocalist) or even Yem Bai (some local band’s bassist, I think) to warrant their pants-size preferences.
Anyway, I did my own alterations on a pair of white cotton slacks I wore to school. I was a prefect, hence the colour. It didn’t take long to stitch just the bottom part of the pants because the top is just big enough to fit my big fat hips. So I’d slip a plastic bag over my feet so the pant-leg would slide easier over them. By the time I was ready I was sweating profusely even before I got on my bike for the ride to school.
It worked like a charm as the kids gave adoring glances down the legs of my pants. True, I wouldn’t pass of as Richie Sambora in red star-spangled spandex. But at least I had a passing semblance to the fat guitarist from Utopia (Mithali Cintaku) or even Ozzy who was a little on the fatter side of the spectrum.
The bubble burst during PJ one day. We were playing rounders (a kid’s version of softball) and I’d forgotten my track bottoms. So there I was, batting in my tight white pants. I hit a scorcher and went storming to start my run, As I reached second base, my right foot slid on a wet patch and down I went into an impressive James Brown split. There was a cracking sound somewhere below and sure enough I had split my pants. Bodies were tumbling all around me in fits of laughter. Even the girls a few yards away, shooting netballs.
All of this happened during my pre-underwear era. I told myself that nobody saw. A futile attempt at consoling myself. Sure enough, my nether regions, specifically the family jewels, were coated in damp earth and fragments of grass and what must’ve been kuah keropok. This last substance scaring the shit out of me as I thought I was bleeding.
So I started to wear briefs. Big red ones that showed through my white pants that the kids would snicker at from behind as we climbed the set of stairs to class. Fuck that. I went back to going commando. Until I was at boarding school and I got embarrased by not owning any underwear to scrub while doing laudry with the other boys who looked so happy scrubbing away at their skid marks. So I got a bunch of them thingies. White Funai’s. I’m back in the fold: a happy guy with y-fronts on top of his laundry pile.
Until I saw one of them sprawled on a glass encased notice board along one of the hallways in the main school building. I knew I shouldn’t have written my name on them pesky things.
Oh, one more thing. I wear boxers now.