Fashion forward

Oblivion is a double-edged sword.

Not the kind of oblivion one’s work is consigned to when nobody pays it any mind. That kind of oblivion is a single-edged sword, and a very sharp, very threatening sword it is too.

I’m talking about the state of oblivion. Being oblivious. Not noticing.

I have almost fifty years’ experience being oblivious, and I can tell you that it has its advantages. It’s a godsend to a weird kid, to miss the subtle slights and implied insults. I’m sure my teenage years would have been angst-ridden and miserable, had I only noticed.

On the other hand, it can make it difficult to hold a job. It’s only in retrospect that I realize what a royal pain in the ass I must have been as an employee. I’d be sitting in a meeting, hashing through an issue, thinking, “Boy, we’re really getting to the bottom of this!” while, to a man, everyone else would be thinking, “Boy, I wish that royal pain in the ass would shut the hell up!”

It can also be a problem in intimate relationships. To miss the body language, to blunder past the unspoken, to be deaf to the subtext, it all spells trouble. It’s not a coincidence that I married a man who understands, absolutely, that if he wants me to know something he has to tell me. In English.

My oblivion isn’t limited to the interpersonal. It extends to the cultural, which is why my clothes are never quite right and I can’t get the hang of Facebook.

Manhattan is something of an antidote to oblivion. When you walk out the door, the world thrusts itself upon you. Out here on Cape Cod, though, isolation compounds my problem. I can wear the same sweater day in, day out, and there’s no neighbor or doorman to notice. The only person I talk to daily understands that, if he wants me to know something, he has to tell me. In English.

The longer we stay here, the more distanced I feel from the rest of the civilized world. Sometimes, I’m fine with that, and I go about my business feeding my chickens, weeding my garden, and trying to outsmart the striped bass. But then, some rainy day, I tackle my three-foot-high stack of unread New Yorkers, and it’s clear to me that I’m a pathetic ignorant hayseed.

Those two worlds collided this week. My friend Amanda, who notices all the things I miss, and most definitely has the hang of Facebook, alerted me to the fact that there is a singer named Ke$ha (now who would name a daughter Ke$ha?) who has started a craze for turkey feather hair extensions.

Turkey feather hair extensions? No way. “Google it,” Amanda told me. She told me this on Twitter, so I couldn’t see her eyes rolling.

Sure enough. Extensions made of the striped tail feathers of the kind of turkeys we raise are cropping up everywhere and, just like that, I am propelled to the vanguard of fashion. I am officially taking bids for zebra-striped turkey tail feathers. I’ll be turkey farmer to the stars, with big, beautiful feathers from birds raised humanely in a large, comfortable pen. They’ll be in great demand.

The only problem is that they’re not deliverable until November, by which time the craze will undoubtedly be over. Not that I’ll notice.

14 people are having a conversation about “Fashion forward

  1. Living out here in the woods, I am similarly oblivious.

    The only reason I’d already heard about this trend is that some of the versions of the style involve hackle feathers that are also used for tying flies. So on some fly fishing blog recently there was quite a panic. Hair stylists are apparently driving up the price of fly tying supplies like crazy. That’s my connection to the fashion world. (My idea of a wardrobe makeover is ordering new flannel shirts from Cabela’s.)

    But hang in there, and keep saving your feathers. This could be more than a fad. I think this feather thing has legs.

  2. It’s a new one on me. Perhaps I could start a trend for chicken feather extensions?

    But mostly, I’m wondering, who on earth has the thought of going out with turkey feathers in their hair? Or the nerve to do it once they’d thought of it? I know the reaction I’d get at the school gate…

  3. Tamar…

    This oblivion is available in certain areas of Manhattan, too. One of the things I love most about living in the East Village is that I can walk my dog in my penguin-patterned pj pants and no one cares.

    I found myself last Autumn with a pile of sweater the moths had been at over the summer. All that was wearable was a red one and a black one. Every day, all winter, red or black sweater. Redblackredblack…no one noticed. I mean, who would comment? My colleague with the neon green stripe in her hair? Not likely. I will suggest the turkey feather thing to her, though and tell her I have a supplier.

  4. A couple of things:
    First, at the risk of being Momish, I’d like to point out that your temperament as well as your share of the family obtuseness may have been a factor. From the beginning, you insisted on clarity, hated doutle-talk or indirection. You demanded a transparent world.
    Second, the reading of high-quality fiction can make anyone (maybe especially you or me) painfully aware of a subtlety deficit. Why do Henry James’s characters notice cues from other characters that I would never see in a zillion years?

    And, BTW, I’m finally getting caught up with the New Yorker in preparation for our trip north. Only 4 more issues (and 4 more days) to go!

  5. I don’t really understand this sweater changing thing. I’ve been wearing the same jumper (sweater) since, ooh, winter last year. It’s warm, and camouflage, and comfortable. Why would I *want* to change to another?

    My only fashion rules: Don’t wear more than 2 pieces of camouflage clothing unless they match (jumper over shirt is OK), and never never never wear tracky-daks (track suit pants) out of the house.

  6. Oh dear, I feel a certain guilt as the person who was the recipient of all those lovely feathers last year and STILL has not sent you any photos. To be fair, I was deep in the holiday craze when they arrived, then was on to the next season’s collection, which was spring/summer. Turkey feathers are a fall palette to me. Anyway, Tamar, just wanted to say thanks again, and do hold out hope that the lovely feathers are making their way into some beautiful little designs for this winter/holiday season. And, while the olive harvest this year wasn’t so hot, I have been making some spectacular seabean pickles I’d love to trade with you…

  7. LOL, I avoid oblivion by having a day job that puts me in the company of a lot of 20-year-olds. They keep me up on pop culture, and if they ever fail to, say, bring a popular YouTube video to my attention, I scold them.

  8. I’m oblivious and have no excuse. I also don’t care that the neighbors can see that I’m still wearing the same Ubuntu tee shirt and fuchsia yoga pants (my husband calls the my I-already-have-a-boyfriend pants) combination when I go get the mail today that I had on when I got the mail yesterday. And sweaters require too much fussy care. I wear the same sweatshirts over and over and over.

    Going back to work is going to be hell.

  9. i work from home a lot and do a lot of calls on Skype. You lot would all understand why I dont under any circs turn on the video cam for conference calls!!!!! Elderly bargain fleece – but it is clean. (Looks down front…. mmmmm … compost … coffee …. unidentified orange mark ….) Well, it was this morning! Or was that yesterday, or perhaps monday???? Ah. Oh. Hellloooo friends!

  10. already covered in mud to the ankles thinning the onions and cutting the lettuces. In a bit of a panic over having to go to an actual restaurant tonight. Can never remember what I have that is worthy of being in public…

  11. Tamar – The weather turned cold last weekend and I found myself sat in a warm bath while wearing a wooly hat. I thought about staging my own fashion intervention at that point. Or at least a civilising day trip to a London museum.

    I also admit to the backlog of New Yorkers. The summer fiction issue just arrived (hence why I holed up in the bath…)

    Turkey feathers have a fashion resonance with a girl like me brought up in the 80s as 1) bad earrings, the type worn by heavy-metal girlfriends rocking the white stiletto/acid wash jeans combo, and 2) roach clips. Ke$ha is just being retro. I would cash in if I were you. You’re sitting on a gold mine, but instead of gold it’s keratin. A keratin mine.


    – J£nnifer

  12. HAHA COOL! I’m in fashion and I didn’t even know it. Though I thought the ones
    I had in my hair were chicken feathers. lol. I kept seeing all these cute hippie chicks with feathers in their hair around here and thought…”Damn, I want some of those”! Guess I must be stylish for the first time in my life. hehe

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