The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, December 31, 2004, Columns

WORDS OF THE WEEK "He who goes against the fashion is himself its slave."– British essayist Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946)

WHO? Why on earth would anyone be interested in opening an e-mail from a sender named Repulsive G. Lodi? Or Ernestine R. Philistine? Frankly, if Mr. (Ms.?) Lodi or Ms. Philistine were folks I was interested in hearing from, then their ludicrous names would already be familiar – if I were interested in having friends named Repulsive or Philistine ... which is so not likely. I just couldn't get past those names. I'd never be able to look at them or listen to what they had to say. We'd never really be able to be friends because of that – you know, trying different hairstyles on each other and making prank phone calls or whatnot. That's a shame. But I imagine that someone named Repulsive doesn't try different hairstyles or make prank calls. I mean, I hate the idea of prejudging someone based on their name, but if your name is Repulsive, sorry ... that's what nicknames are for. Can you imagine what Ms. Ernestine R. Philistine is like? For one thing, she's probably a "Miss" and surely she's a plus-sized Amazon – all harsh angles and really bad kinky hair. I imagine she likes to wear old-school nurses' shoes because they're comfortable, and has furnished her modest abode completely from Wal-Mart. She's got a genuinely good heart, but expresses herself poorly in a series of fits of ungainly behavior. Poor Ernestine – she's just never really gotten a handle on personal interaction ... and that's just one more reason why I'm not interested in hearing from her.

NURSING A STRONG ONE Now that we've brought up the subject of nurses, it's time for some hard talk, so pull your little chairs in a little bit closer and let's discuss: First off, nurses don't look like nurses anymore. They look more like children's activity organizers. When did hospitals allow nurses to stop looking like nurses? There was a time when nurses received utmost respect simply because of their authoritarian uniforms – the starched white dress (I'm focusing on lady nurses, here, so bear with me ...), a charming array of white hats, the opaque white stockings, and those ever-so-serviceable white shoes. You see, nurses have the special privilege of being able to wear white shoes all year long, when the rest of us would be cast into fashion hell for it. And since they're lucky enough to do that, you'd think they'd be wearing a plethora of stunning white footwear – but no. They wear athletic shoes. Because they're more "comfortable." But honestly, what could be more wonderful and comfortable than, say, a pair of white Ferragamo slip-ons with some beguiling little detail that makes your heart jump every time you see them? And the stiff, intimidating white uniforms? Gone with the wind. Those clever folded or pleated hats? Unavailable. Now nurses wear scrubs printed with little fishies and colorful bears. This may be comforting to toddlers, but I am an adult and as such am not swayed by such ploys. I want to be handled by someone named Ratched whose very presence underscores the gravity of my malady. Of course, this is not to say that nurses are no longer respected or respectable – dear god, I put myself in the skilled hands of dozens of nurses every year and receive excellent care and am deeply grateful for it. But I was just really fond of those caregivers who scared the pants off of you; they always made you think twice about getting sick.

PONDERING Exactly how did the term "Drama Queen" – a decades-old gay phrase – come to be co-opted by heterosexuals? Probably the same way the song "YMCA" – a song about anonymous sex in a gay bathhouse – came to be played at every suburban wedding reception and sports event.

JET SETTING If you still don't know what you're doing on New Year's Eve, then make your little fingers fly to and book your reservation now for a flight to a planet of music, food, entertainment, and a helluva good time – without ever leaving Austin. And you can even sleep it off at the Omni. Our friends from StrangeTribe and Burn the Box are presenting the second annual JetSet New Year's Eve Party, and it is not to be missed.

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