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The Dictator of Decorum – Ask Maximus

Text by GLENN O’BRIEN

Illustrations by JEAN-PHILIPPE DELHOMME

My girlfriend has very particular opinions about what I should wear,and she’s very vocal about them. I love her and I appreciate her interest, but experience has shown that I’m usually right. How do I tell her to back off?

Have you tried giving her a dose of her own medicine? Tell her you like a black bra under a white shirt, or a twinset with pearls, or saddle shoes and a pleated skirt, whatever seems like the opposite of her own taste, and see how she likes it. What’s the worst that could happen? I guess her taking your suggestions? I think taste is a completely valid excuse for giving it some time or taking a break, if not calling the whole thing off. I’ve been married three times, and I think that clashing tastes are far tougher to survive than infidelity. My second wife, on the verge of our parting, admitted that she deliberately dressed to alienate me. Once it was over, I was finally able to buy furniture for my house and didn’t have clothes that looked like they came from Plymouth Rock.

I have an eccentric style (e.g. I’m considering wearing creeper shoes), and I’m meeting my girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Should I tone down my personal style to meet them?

It depends on several factors. Will you be seeing a lot of them? What kind of boyfriends have they met before? Do you make a good living? “He looks kind of weird!” “Yes, dear, but he’s a vice president.” If you live in New York and they live in Idaho, toning down might buy you a few years of adjustment. Money always makes one’s children’s significant others seem more attractive. If you sense that small adjustments (say a haircut and beard trim) would ease the situation, why not? But you’ve got to be who you are and tattoos don’t wash off. In fact, if you sense a real clash of cultures coming, it might be better to get the shock over with in the beginning. From there, you can only improve in their eyes. “He’s really not that bad. He’s very polite. I just wish he’d get rid of the nose ring.” Wear the creepers— they might take pity. “I think he’s just sensitive about his height, dear.”

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