Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
We’re gonna be a little short on the visuals Chez Mad Dog today because certain things must be kept secret, this being the holiday season and all. But my secret project has taught me a lesson. I think. Perhaps a little more on that later in the week…
Bracketing that for a moment, here’s what you can see:
This is the start of a new hat for Alex in Malabrigo’s “Vaa” colorway, shown here with his holiday socks because he had originally requested that the hat harmonize with these socks. An attempt was made and the illusion of its success, as you may have already surmised, rides heavily on the fact that one’s head is very far from one’s feet.
Because indeed, the “Vaa” hat is just a tad more—how shall we say?—reminiscent of military drills and jungle combat than are the Trekking XXL socks. Sir, yes, sir. But most importantly, there is nothing “unmanly” about this colorway, and that is a critical consideration, as it turns out. Particularly for a hat, which everyone can plainly see, sitting right there on your head! Fascinatingly, Alex, like many men, has a finely honed sensibility about what is and is not a “manly” color, despite the fact that one of the many delightful things about Alex is that he has almost no hang-ups whatsoever about his masculinity.
There is clearly an “American Male System of Manly Color Recognition” (AMSMCR) involved, but I must admit that as a woman, I find the criteria completely opaque. Come to think of it, if you squint at that acronym just the right way for long enough, it suggests “Am screwed.” Which is about right. I often mistake an unacceptable color for an acceptable one, and vice versa.
I’ll pick a ball of yarn in a color that I think fairly screams “testosterone” and say, “How would this yarn in the ‘Mack Truck’ colorway do for a hat?”
He’ll give me a stricken look, as though I had just quite soberly suggested that he should go about town in a bonnet trimmed in white bunny fur with a matching muff, and say, “Oh. Oh no. I would never wear that.”
Then again, the Trekking XXL socks under discussion are in a set of colors that I thought would never fly because they would be deemed “too bright.” To my immense surprise, the ruling was favorable, but Alex later explained that because the yarn was for socks, which are not often fully visible, and because he foresaw wearing said socks mostly at home for warmth in the evenings, certain otherwise inviolable color rules could be relaxed. Due to various specific contingencies, you see, that if you fully understood AMSMCR, you could have easily predicted.
One thing about AMSMCR, it keeps you on your toes!
It seems worth observing that since no woman I know really understands AMSMCR, these color rules are actually a “code of the road” men have for dealing with and signalling certain things to other men. I understand from Alex that men have a vast, unwritten code for dealing with one another in public toilets as well, the intricacies of which are astoundingly complex. Though I cannot be sure, I have a feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the byzantine implicit rules men live by in order to keep the homosocial sector of their worlds running smoothly.
This positively dizzying prospect makes me realize once again that the social construction of gender is no laughing matter. I mean, I think we all know that in many ways it is not that easy to be a woman in this society, but when you really think about it, masculinity ain’t exactly a cake walk either. These guys have a lot on their minds! They are preoccupied with the need for strict adherence to the complexities of The Code.
Perhaps this explains why so many of them can’t see dirt.