Columns - 2003

    The Fashion Bible

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    I am here today to reveal to you a great, earth-shaking truth. You doubt me? Why, then, on the day I sent this to my editor, was a 4.9-magnitude earthquake centered in Fort Payne?

    The biggest earthquake in Alabama in countless years. (Countless, because I didn't research it. You want facts, ask a reporter... Just wanted to see if I could type that with a straight face.) Felt in seven states. Woke up my sister-in-law. (If it's important enough to her, it's important enough to you.)

    Men, I've learned the secret. Okay, there's actually several "the secrets," and no man is physiologically capable of knowing more than one at a time without massive brain hemorrhaging, but this one's good to know.

    So, if you know another "the secret" that you don't want to lose, read no further. You think that you could write down your "the secret," but you'd lose the paper as soon as you finish this column. Trust me, I tried. I think I tried...

    Women, I guess you can also read this. If there's no men around (husbands obviously excluded), you can even break out in diabolical laughter at our expense. Regardless, when both of you remit your tasteful commentary to the editor, don't worry about last year's pesky postage increase. It'll still be delivered. Honest.

    Thanks to intensive analysis of the secret tomes of Baba Gump, the erstwhile unknown Mishnah tractate, I've discovered yet another deep-rooted aspect of the true nature of man in relation to woman.

    For all intents and purposes (and for all intensive purposes, depending on whether you use idioms correctly or bastardized) men are, and always have been, accessories. Yes, we are nothing more than an extension of a woman's appearance. This revelation is a result of months of in-depth, tax-deductible analysis of the Baba Gump verse that, when translated, says, "men are nothing more than an extension of a woman's appearance."

    It's true. We need to look good next to them, and not let our accoutrements clash with theirs. But it's not based just their preference, it's ours as well. Why? They tell us so. No, seriously, here's why.

    Imagine you're both ready to go somewhere (fancy dinner, services, theatre, the 7-11 on the corner for some red vine that she'll complain later that you shouldn't have let her buy). Imagine that your outfit clashes with hers (shouldn't be hard today, your outfit clashes with itself... look at you). You can't go out the door together like that. How do you know this? She kindly reveals this scientifically-derived fact through her imminent exclamation "we can't go out the door together like that."

    The logical solution is for you to quickly change into something less aesthetically sacrilegious. (See? You were wondering how religion would fit into this topic. You get a whole sack of it!)

    It's logical because it will take you two minutes to do so. That is precisely why, before you can even unzip, she's completely out of her outfit, starting again from scratch her fifteen minute, minimum-of-five-outfits selection process.

    This sounds too modern? And sexist? I'll now prove to you that it's an issue that transcends time, originating in the earliest chapters of the bible. As for being sexist, like I said, it started in the Bible (motto: "Canonized millenia before the advent of the ERA, or any other baseball statistic").

    There are two distinct categories of women choosing men's wardrobes, to men's potential peril. The first involves couples. And what better place to start than the first couple?

    It wasn't too hard for the Big G to play matchmaker with Adam and Eve. One man, one woman. With those odds, even Alabama's men's basketball team couldn't disappoint.

    First, Eve succumbs to the sudden temptation of the Big Apple. Then she drags Adam along, who was just as happy to stay at home and mind the family garden.

    After both indulge in forbidden fruit, Eve realizes she can't get dressed afterward because they haven't created clothes yet. She grabs the first thing she can find, fig leaves, and fashions them (notice the verb) into garments to cover herself.

    The Bible omits what happened next, but fortunately the details are provided in the ever revealing Mishnah tractate Baba Gump. "And the animals in the garden didst grin, and chuckledeth at Eve as she walkedeth about with tree parts adorning her naughty bits. Eve didst not like being laughed at alone. So she tooketh one looketh at Adam, beholding his figleafless glory, and didst laugh."

    Baba Gump notes that this is considered by some to be The Other Original Sin, for which men continue to suffer in agony to this day.

    "Adam didst feel affronted and demandedeth his rib back. Eve compromised, made Adam a brief of fig leaves (the first design of Fruit of the Loom), and adorned him in something similar unto what she woreth. Before she could get to his matching tie and cummerbund, the seventh day arrived and she could work no longer. Eve didst smile because the animals would laugh at him more, in his fashionings that complemented hers and madeth her look better."

    The second category of women dressing up men is, of course, the nightmare of adolescence, the king of quease: mothers dressing their sons.

    Does the second category make you grateful that you've grown into the first category? And all it cost you was a two-karat diamond and abandoning Monday Night Football at the bar? Or would you rather run back to mama? Inquiring minds want to know. But I don't. So don't bother answering. Step away from the mailbox.

    For the design of little boys' clothes, the clothing industry does extensive research in two key areas.

    First, they poll thousands of women to determine what they think would be "SO cute" on a little boy. Not necessarily on their own little boy, but on one they see being walked down the street.

    Second, they poll thousands of men to determine what types of clothes they would least want to be wearing in pictures from their childhoods. They find items common to both lists, and make them best-sellers.

    Of course, the greatest fashion harm inflicted on any son of Israel was on one of the Bible's beleaguered heroes: Joseph. While the Coat of Many Colors of Benetton ostensibly came from Jacob, only the collaboration of all four mothers of Jacob's children could come up with a coat guaranteed at all times to contain the most out-of-fashion color.

    Of course, the three mothers of Jacob's other, less renowned sons were secretly plotting to put Joseph in the most glaring outfit possible. Meanwhile, Joseph's natural mother Rebecca was thinking "it's SO cute on him."

    Baba Gump, who was never dressed by his own mother, concludes his discourse on fashion with a clear statement of why men are better off dressed in outfits chosen by women: "men need the help."

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley. His play Retrograde, published in the 8 Tens @ 8 Festival anthology, recently had its professional New York premiere on 42nd Street. For more information, past columns, other writing, and other current events, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.