REALITY CHECK: If ignorance is bliss, then I’m generally happy
Ignorance is bliss. There’s a lot of truth in that statement, but, as I recently learned, ignorance is bliss only if one remains ignorant indefinitely.
The moment you wise up, all previous incidences of ignorance come back to haunt you and you’re worse off than you would have been had you never been ignorant in the first place. This is the kind of realization that comes to you one way only: The hard way.
I received my harsh slap of reality shortly after New Year’s Eve, when I went to download to my laptop the digital photos I had taken at the party. Viewing them on the big screen, I couldn’t help notice they bore almost no resemblance to the actual event, not as I remembered it, at any rate.
Let me back up a sec. Early on New Year’s Eve, Sweet Annie and I were at my place getting dressed for the party. This was, for Annie, the culmination of four weeks of shopping, circumspect planning, color matching, and extensive consultation with her daughters and myriad fashion experts at Macy’s.
For me, it was a matter of looking in the closet to see if anything was A) clean, or B) if not clean, at least not inordinately smelly.
I lucked out, kind of. One of my black sports jackets was mostly clean, say 87 percent, which puts it well within the range of what’s considered “acceptable” on the Man Scale. I also had a pair of slacks in there, still on a hanger! They were of a different fabric than the jacket, but they were black, so, close enough.
The only speed bump was the lack of a nice dress shirt. Nothing white, nothing black. (These are the only two colors I trust myself to “match” when it comes to fashion.) The only clean shirts I had handy were plaid. I chose the deepest blue of the lot, hoping it would be dark enough at the club that nobody would notice it wasn’t black.
My good dress shoes were left in storage in Detroit when I moved here nine months ago and I still haven’t picked them up. But I had a pair of black cowboy boots handy. They hurt my feet and made my slacks look a little short, but by this point, I just wanted to be dressed and on my way.
Annie was gussying up in another room. I’ve never actually seen her getting ready for date night, but I assume there’s some sort of alchemy or other magical process involved because she always emerges looking like Michelle Pfeiffer in her prime, which is way too good for me but I won’t point this out to her if you don’t.
“Do I look alright?” she asked.
“Mrbrl fdlerich,” I said, unable to articulate clearly due to the slackness of my jaw and the way my tongue was hanging out.
“How about me?” I asked when I’d regained some motor control. “Does this go together?”
Now, in addition to being real purdy, Annie is kind-hearted, to a fault, some might say.
“You look great,” she lied.
We had fun at the party. At the time, I thought we were really styling; Annie in her clingy, indigo dress, me in my black, thrown-together, sorta suit. A younger, hipper version of Bogie and Bacall. Or maybe an older, less hip, version of Brad and Angelina.
Either way, I figured we were looking good.
Then I saw the photos. It turns out I was half right. In all the pics, Annie looks like a runway model; slim, elegant, the Socratic ideal of feminine refinement and sophistication.
And there, lurking next to her, troll-like, is me. Dressed in the plaid shirt, the high-water slacks, the scuffed-up cowboy boots. Jim Neighbors in his “Gomer” days. The president of the chess club at Senior Prom.
Not Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, after all, but Dianne Keaton and Woody Allen. Beauty and the Beast.
“Why in the name of all that’s holy, did you let me leave the house looking like that?” I accused. “Why didn’t you tell me the shirt didn’t match, that my pants were too short, that my boots were scuffed? Why, Annie, why?”
“Because I love you,” she said.
This sort of smart-alecky answer is just like her.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to love me if I didn’t look like a yutz?” I countered. For this, she had no answer.
So we agreed that, sometime next month, we’ll drive out to 28th Street and pick out a new “Sunday go to meetin’” suit. Annie will pick it out. I’ll pay for it.
And I will wear it when we go out next New Year’s Eve.
Of course, had it not been for those pictures, the purchase of a new suit would not have been necessary. Ignorance is not only bliss, it turns out, it’s cheaper than knowing the truth.