Thursday, January 26, 2012


In Atlanta visiting friends and one of my (formerly hot-tempered) cousins.  A house full of sons somehow cooled him into a stoic oak(?).  On one of the nights we went out for drinks, I kept looking for symptoms or signals of that slowly simmering pressure-pot to show up in somewhere, either in his speech, manner, or interactions with others.  It didn't.  Is he now a mellow father with a very long fuse?  I wasn't buying it. 

An architecturally dizzying hotel interior. 

It took me a moment to realize what "tnurnb" was. 
This company writes their instructions the way I write this blog.

As youngsters, he would be the first one into a scrap-up, and the last one out of it.  Fast, wiry, and wild, he was a deadly athlete and lived everyday like it was a hopeless stand-off in a canyon ambush.  He is a few years older than I am, and as kids, he provided me with diplomatic immunity from the ill-intentioned older children, who all feared his hot-blooded willingness to engage in a hay-maker tornado with absolutely anybody.  I looked up to him, and loved spending summers with him.  We are both at the younger end of that line of cousins, but he has taken control of the family affairs for most of us, cataloging and preserving thousands of photos, interviewing family members to preserve the taken-for-granted knowledge they never seem to write down, including the bizarre stories.

Ever defensively on guard for his family and relatives, his fraternity party fist-fights have now been replaced with his squad of lawyers; his once-hay-makers are now legal letters to the aggressor.  Mother has trouble with a house-painting contractor?  He calls the contractor.  Not resolved by the next day?  He gets on a plane.

Everyone thought he'd be the eternally unbridled one, maybe moving far away and working on a remote fishing vessel or pipeline in some desolate wilderness.  Instead, he started a company, built a house, had a family, and found a way to direct his volatile gasoline tendencies into efficient, loyal, successful, and honest day-to-day life.

-A reminder-jab aimed at Ralph Lauren?-

He was in high school and then college during the 80's, and wore cardigans, Sebagos, and went skiing in turtlenecks with Vuarnets.  By that point, he could keep the buttons attached to his blazers, and I saw him less frequently in the summers.  He always had three or four jobs at once when he was young... two during the day, one at night, and another on the weekend.  I always thought it was because he needed the grind to diffuse his energy, but I now realize that it was because he never liked to ask for anything.

Brooks Brothers thought "Knitted in England" 
sounded better than "Made in UK".  I agree.
I wear cardigans today with my jackets and suits because I always saw him wearing them.  As a boy, he gave me many of the shirts he outgrew.  In those days (the 80's), they were called "Izod" or "alligator shirts" and not Lacoste.  His siblings were (and still are) all good looking as well, pictures of their three golden catalog smiles were on every table of my aunt's house, and because they were older cousins, I learned important lessons by example: men look good in pink shirts, how to sleep during church service, Grandmother sees everything, and always stand up for others.

Grosgrain ribbon on the inside of the cardigan is harder to find these days. 
It's an older sweater.

He's now a dedicated father who is never to late to anything or too busy for his family, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc.  He never hesitates to help anyone at any hour anyplace.

By evening's end on my last night, I was certain that his outward cool-headedness was here to stay, but I also found it comforting once I had decoded the nearly undetectable manifestations of his inner powder keg. They were still there, but the fuse no longer hissed, and we both accepted the way time turns leaves over, like it or not.


  1. Lovely post on how time changes all of us. And that Atlanta Marriott is something else.

  2. Medically speaking his mellow nature can be attributed to the gradual decline in the levels of free flowing testosterone. Perhaps if he went through testosterone replacement therapy his feisty nature might come back?

  3. I really wish I had a relative like that.

  4. Your cousin sounds like a great guy - I'm sure you two had a great time catching up. Sabago - I hadn't thought of that brand in years! :)

  5. Another excellent post. "Nothing Wasted" remains my favorite; however, this is up there. Your writing abilities and subject matter makes this my favorite place to visit. All the best.

    Dave T

  6. Re: Jab at RL
    Brooks apparently owns the rights to the name "polo shirt," which they apply to their button-down collar shirt, for historical reasons. Within the Polo line, notice that all RL OCBDs have a label that simply says "Ralph Lauren," but will not have the word (or logotype) Polo on them. This is not to be confused with the short sleeve, usually mesh weave, two button at the collar kind of shirt, which is what most people call a "polo shirt." The Polo polo shirt is allowed to have a label that says Polo (usually in a box).
    This is common knowledge among trad shirt nerds. I thought I'd reiterate it here for those who spend their time more productively.


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