When it became fashionable for males to sport jeweled earrings, I declined to participate in the craze. Next, tattoos stained some people’s skin. Ew!
But, being exquisitely masculine, I do so adore rugged individuality. This year I’ve reinvented myself by sporting ear clothespins. How butch is that?
Blame Michael J. Fox’s father-in-law, Stephen Pollan. As I absorbed his inspirational book, Second Acts, in 2002, I discovered a passage that reaffirmed the special lifelong goal that really makes me tick. The author/life coach told us readers to “… constantly reinvent (yourselves). Make it your lifestyle.”
Indeed, in my case, Mr. Pollan was preaching to the choir. Resolutions be damned. Unlike many others, I’ve never waited until a new year greeted me to revamp myself. I’ve been in a perpetual state of reinvention since I was six. I’m the guy who gave Madonna the nerve to try.
I’ve always resisted becoming a clone of my peer group. I call it clone-aphobia. Not made of rags, tags, bags nor sugar and spice, I thrive on morphing into as many aspects of Myselves as I can muster.
As an adolescent, I became the innocent recipient of pointed remarks when I decided to wear a cape. Confound it all, it made my exits more dramatic. Sometimes it simply gave a lot of laughs to lots of folks. I pity teenagers who fail to appreciate class.
My hairstyles were labeled legendary in some circles. Kind of like the circles that you’d find in the windmills of my mind. I’ve been known to go into the bathroom during a party and come out wearing a different hairdo.
Gay? Nope. Just a heterosexual experimenter unafraid of public censure in my efforts to fight boredom. I’m bolstered by the words of my hero, Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
I live my reinventions. I’m a “method” re-inventor. For example, once when I adopted a new persona of sophistication, I bowed from the waist when I was introduced to anyone. Even the garbage man. I not only fancied myself as a VIP, I “became” distinguished, and demanded r-e-s-p-e-c-t. On the other hand, another time I had just reinvented myself into an earthy, Falstaff-like person. When someone addressed me as “Mr. Eskew,” I respond with “Gesundheit!” Then I belched.
Some people reinvent themselves with face lifts. But beware: sometimes that can backfire into scary consequences.
Case in point: a know-it-all neighbor had his nose altered. Sounded reasonable at the time. Granted, his nose was indeed long, huge, crooked, ugly, distorted and totally revolting. On the other hand, it also happened to be his very best feature. Yikes!
Since I’m regarded as a fabulously strapping vat of virility in those same circles where I’m considered a legend, I was recently dumbstruck. An acquaintance suggested that I engage in what he referred to as “super self-actualization.”
“If you’re so keen on reinventing yourself, why not consider gender reassignment procedures?” he smirked.
A manly stud such as I? Hardly. I would look like the warning label on a bottle of hormones.
But it’s nice to realize that even I have a line I shan’t cross. Ever. Though it might be fun to see how my teenaged grandchildren would react. They do so love the clothespins on my ears.
My ex-wife hates them and, sticking to her nature, she spoke frankly: “Those clothespins on your ears simply underscore the one big Truth about you. You’ve got no class.”
Hey lady, unique is not another word for wrong. Her insults only spur me on. No class? Come on. I’m lousy with class. Why I’ve got class I ain’t even used yet. Watch me, woman: I’ll reinvent class.
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.