Just in time for our Alaskan cruise, I bought the Knight a “travel blazer” and two short sleeved light blue dress shirts to go with it. The blazer was navy blue with gold buttons and about a dozen inside pockets (thus it was a “travel” blazer for holding miscellaneous documents, etc.). He looked really [really, really] cool wearing a blue shirt and the navy blue blazer. He was cleancut, neat, debonair, suave. James Bond had nothing on him!!
Our cruise line, on the other hand, boasted its “Freestyle” style. Everything was “freestyle.”—meals, dress code, etc. “Nice casual” was mentioned somewhere in their brochure. But even on dress-up night, dressing-up was strictly optional (and very few made the effort). “Freestyle dining” meant eat whenever and wherever you liked, wearing whatever you liked (within reason—a cover-up over your bikini was suggested).
Maybe half of the people on the cruise tried to maintain “nice casual.” The other half (or more) wore sloppy attire—stuff that was more appropriate to working in the yard or vegging out in front of the TV during a long weekend at home. I was a little surprised at how sloppy some people looked.
Actually, I was appalled.
It bothered me a little.
Okay. It bothered me a lot.
I criticized myself for these feelings.
And then I read something that helped me understand why I felt the way I did. The author said:
“There are many ways of showing respect to ourselves and those around us. Minding our bodies is one of them, and certainly not a minor consideration. We all know that we can offend others with our bodies. We do that with the way we look, the way they smell, and what we do with and to them. Thus we all need to become conversant with the civility of body management, which begins with good basic grooming habits. When we take good care of our bodies and our appearance we implicitly validate who we are. We look at ourselves as deserving of attention and act upon that feeling. As we are being good to ourselves, we also show that we consider others important. Behind that attention to our grooming are the goals of appearing at our best on the stage of everyday life and of being as pleasant a presence for others as we can.
“Essential to good grooming are a clean and odor-free body, recently washed hair, finger- and toenails in perfect order, a close shave, well-applied makeup, if worn, and clean teeth and fresh breath. Also essential are clean and unrumpled clothes, well-kept shoes, unfrayed socks, and run-free stockings. Good grooming is simply good maintenance.
“When we are well groomed, we often experience a sense of both physical and psychological well-being. We feel good, and we feel good about ourselves. When this happens, we are better disposed toward others, treat them better, and are thus better treated in return.” [From Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni]
Having read the above three paragraphs, I understood my feelings of discomfort while in the company of people who didn’t seem to care how they looked, nor considered whether they were offensive in dress, or manner or behavior. (Yes, they displayed other incivilities as well.)
I am sure that the cruise line gave up, as a lost cause, on trying to encourage “nice casual” and thus gave in to “freestyle” sloppy. I, of course, will definitely avoid cruising with “Freestyle” cruises in the future.
Having said that, I want to return to how I felt about the Knight when he was wearing his travel blazer and light blue shirt. I felt pleased to be in his company. I felt respect for him. I felt joy and gratitude about being his companion. I felt special. He was special.
If he looked that way every day, I would be flattered that he took the time and effort to look well groomed even if he wasn’t going anywhere. I have never appreciated the snaggly unshaved look. I don’t think any man is “sexy” who neglects to shower and shave or dress neatly. Or get his hair cut before he looks like a hippy.
Concerning at-home slovenliness, P.M. Forni said: “If it’s hard to do the grooming just for yourself, do it for those who share your home. No one will be physically closer to you for a longer time than your companion, your spouse, and your family. Make sure that your body care is such that it adds to their pleasure in being with you. … Being civil to your family is one of the most concrete ways to show them that we love them. Love is not simply made of feeling. Real love is made of doing.”
Sounds good to me!