Tag Archives: Neuroses

Neuroses of the Modern Gentleman: Part X

NYT on iPhoneMy ideal –and fortunately, typical– Sunday morning involves bacon, eggs, coffee, and the Sunday New York Times at a restaurant. It is probably the routine I have practiced the longest behind brushing my teeth and getting my hair cut every two weeks. For most of my adult life, I had no choice but to subscribe to or buy the morning paper, set several pounds of it on the breakfast table and unfurl the rest of it around my meal. But I loved it.

For the last couple years, though, I’ve read the Sunday paper on my iPhone. The good news is it’s smaller; the bad news is it’s smaller. But I am fortunate to have good eyesight (knock on wood), so that is not my issue. That would not be a neurosis. This neurosis revolves around the fact that, these days, almost everyone in restaurants is reading from their phones. Couples, that might normally talk to each other, are instead doing something on their phones. They may be reading the New York Times like me, or they may be checking Facebook, firing off emails, or playing Angry Birds.

So my neurosis is that people probably think I’m too busy checking Facebook, emailing, or dominating some iPhone game when, in fact, I’m doing the same thing I’ve done for over a decade, except on a phone instead of a dead tree.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I will often be firing off emails or checking Facebook in a restaurant when I shouldn’t be. I do my best to restrain myself. I have considered phone-stacking. But anyone that has joined me for Sunday breakfast knows that I relish the time to read and think and not feel pressure to keep a conversation going. I’d like the conversation to be sparked by something I read, or something they read, that I should hear about. For now, I’ll just to have to carry on with the fear that strangers assume I’m too engrossed in Words With Friends to actually engage in words with friends.

Neuroses of the Modern Gentleman: Part IX

Wire HangersCall me lazy. Call me crazy. I take all my dress shirts, most of my sport shirts, and all of my khakis and casual pants to the dry cleaner to have them professionally laundered. At least in my experience, they last longer and look better than I would do on my own. So I run up a pretty substantial dry cleaning bill every month; but what gnaws at me is the sheer volume of wire hangers that I’m given.

Lest you think I keep most of my clothes on wire hangers, I don’t. But they come from the cleaners on wire hangers. I suppose I could ask for them folded instead, but then it means I have to iron or press every morning (which perhaps is the solution). Instead, I toss all the wire hangers into a bin until I accrue pounds and pounds of them, at which point I take them back to the dry cleaner to reuse.

And that’s where the neurosis kicks in: do they really reuse the wire hangers? I sure hope so. I’ve asked every dry cleaner I’ve ever gone to, and they almost always say Yes, they do. But there have been times when the body language or facial expression of the dry cleaner is such that I get the feeling they wait till I leave and throw them all in the trash.

And so, despite my best efforts, I fear that my clothing habit has contributed tremendously to that giant island of trash that floats somewhere in the Pacific. Tell me I’m wrong or propose a solution; it would probably add hours of sleep to the rest of my life.  

P.S. If I tweeted more, I guess this would be a good post for #firstworldproblems.

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman VIII: The Murse

Martin Dingman iPad Case? An old high school classmate pointed me to an article in Wednesday’s New York Times about a question that we are seeing frequently in our store: where can I find a masculine iPad bag? It is not an easy question to answer. Laptop bags are too big, and anything barely big enough to fit an iPad is in that gray area which strikes fear in the eyes of many men: the man purse (a.k.a. the murse).

To be honest, we don’t have a great answer to that question now, although we have been peppering some of our vendors to make one (I repeppered this morning by forwarding the link above). As far as a bag for carrying the iPad goes, Martin Dingman’s Rudyard Collection Billet Bag
is the best option we currently have for someone that wants a bag to carry the iPad as well as some
papers, pens, headphones, business cards, etc. The lack of a handle
is a problem for some guys, but if you find that a feature rather than a bug, it’s definitely masculine in that "rugged
elegance" sort of way.

As far as cases go, at Wingtip, we have one in Twelve South’s BookBook for iPad. It hides away nicely in our bookshelf, while those that need to know what it is, just know. We’ve had a few members buy one for themselves.

We also seriously considered adding Parabellum’s kevlar-lined bison accessories to our assortment this year (and may in the future). They have a very sleek iPad case, although you pay for the bison, the kevlar, and the fact that it is made in the US (all good things in our book, just be prepared to pay for them). I don’t think anyone could call their interpretation "feminine".

I imagine most luxury leather goods companies are afraid that the iPad is going to change size or shape soon, and they’ll be sitting on thousands of cases that fit an obsolete model. That is what happened to some companies that invested in making cases for the Palm Pilot (remember those?) or the latest phone from Nokia (I think they’re still around). My guess is that while the iPad may get slimmer, it probably won’t change shape much, and the devices are so popular, they may as well go after it. In the meantime, I guess we’ll just stare awkwardly at the customer and ask, "What is this iPad thing you’re talking about?" 

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman VII: Hangers

Hanger ProjectIt’s been a while since I’ve posted about one of my neuroses, which is either because I don’t have as many neuroses as I originally thought (which I worry about), or I’ve become neurotic about sharing my neuroses with complete strangers. Either way, I think I have one I’m prepared to share one that has worsened as I’ve aged.

In college, when I got my start in the men’s business at George J. Good (may the store rest in peace), I spent most of my wages on clothes. I had more dress shirts as a college student than many professionals would have at twice my age. And as a monument to my OCD, I always kept my dress shirts on wooden hangers organized by color. As a 19 year old. I wish I had pictures.

So when we opened Wingtip, which needs a coat rack since it’s a bar/club, I immediately called Kirby Allison of the eponymous Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project to have him make up hangers with Wingtip’s logo emblazoned on them in all 3 sizes he makes (17.5", 19" and 20.5") since our members also come in 3 sizes (small, medium, and large). Worse still, I made our hosts and hostesses personally apologize to all of our members that, for 2 months, they had to hang their coats on regular wooden hangers.

I would guess that not a single member would ever complain about the hangers we had when we opened, but that’s not the point. Instead, I’m already thinking about how we can really take the hanger business to the next level of obsessive-compulsive behavior. Which is timely, since Kirby’s in San Francisco this week, and I think he’ll like what we’ve done with the place.

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman V

I wish I knew how most men stored their belts. I hang mine on a couple of spinning belt hooks that hang from my closet rod. Due to my unfortunate shoe fetish, my belt collection resembles a box of crayons. So each hook is holding at least 2 belts, sometimes 3. As a general rule, I’ve got dress belts on one hook, and casual belts on the other.

The problem is that I have some belts that go both ways. Sometimes, if I’m trying to dress down a suit or dress up khakis & a sweater, there are a lot of options. A medium brown belt day could result in a solid medium brown belt, one with contrast stitching, or a matte crocodile belt I’ve got. And because they are at least 2 deep on spinning hooks, it’s almost impossible to carefully weigh each option and still leave the house. 

So…I spend a significant chunk of my day fearing Sub-Optimal Belt Selection. In other words, the belt I’ve got on is fine, but there may have been a better belt in the closet.

Wingtip hopes to introduce a solution to this problem later this year, but until then, I’m exploring pharmaceutical solutions.

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman IV

Deerskin Slim LaptopIt’s been a while since I’ve shared one of my many neuroses, but a recent purchase by one of San Francisco’s most discerning customers has forced me to weigh in on a purchase of his: a new laptop bag. I shared many of my thoughts on the various business case options we offer, and he ended up with a stellar choice: Mulholland Brothers’ Deerskin Slim Laptop (pictured). I could make a very strong case that this is the finest bag we have to offer based on style and durability, but I’ll do that another day.

Which leads to my neuroticism. The death knell for this customer’s last bag was a broken shoulder strap, which we can probably all relate to. Except I never use a shoulder strap if I’m in a suit or sport coat. I think of a leather strap crushing the shoulders of a nice suit jacket or sport coat the same way hardcore animal activists think about eating meat: it’s cruel and inhumane. For gentlemen like this customer, who have personally met the tailors that will hand-sew their bespoke suits, the only thing that has prevented me from losing all faith in humanity is the hope that he only uses a shoulder strap when sans coat. This isn’t like putting ketchup on a Charlie Trotter steak; this is like walking into the freezer and grinding up the filet into hamburger meat. Decorum is the only thing keeping me from making references to clubbing baby seals.

I understand the enormous benefits of the shoulder strap, and I use one regularly with my weekend bag when not wearing a suit or sportcoat, so I’m hoping that our discerning customer just wants the option to attach the shoulder strap when he’s dressed more casually.

In all seriousness, though, if this customer says a suit will survive a shoulder strap, I may need to consider getting over this particular neurosis.

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman III

Capresso Z5I swear this will be my last neurosis related to coffee. Since, according to readers, "real men" don’t drink (1) mochas, or (2) any coffee drink with a straw, I have had little excuse to go back to Peet’s Coffee. After all, we have our Capresso Impressa Z5 in the warehouse that makes a perfect cup of espresso every time. But it’s packed away for the move, so I hit the new Peet’s 50 yards from our warehouse for a cup of coffee.

For years now, I have given baristas a fake name since my name – Ami (pronounced like Tommy without the T) – is called out as "Amy" 99 times out of 100. So I give various names depending on my mood: I used to use Rob or Steve, but then realized I could save hours over the course of my life by giving a two-letter name like Ty or AJ. Sometimes, my fake names would cause problems if the cashier looked at the name on my credit card which would be vastly different, but if you’re dressed well, they usually assume you’re not using a stolen credit card. 

This morning, a "gentleman" with silver dollar sized earrings in his ears and facial hair dyed multiple colors should have seen me waiting at the bar for no less than 5 minutes for my
coffee despite there being no line when I arrived; it should have been
obvious that the first drink would be mine. When finished, he called out my name: "Amy!". Not wanting to correct him because I don’t really care, he looked at me increduluosly and snapped, "You’re Amy?" After responding with just "Ami", his expression seemed to turn to disbelief as though I made up the pronunciation on the fly <g> in order to get a free coffee.

Perhaps there is a coffee kleptocracy that they are cracking down on, and I should not be so sensitive. But it’s espressos exclusively from the Capresso at our new store until there is regime change at Peet’s…

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman II

While many companies call their best customers "Platinum", "Gold", or some other euphemism for "VIP", I have always believed that the biggest compliment you can give to a customer is to call them a "Regular" and get them what they want before they ask. It’s a great feeling walking into a favorite haunt, having the employees acknowledge you, and you order "the Usual".

My Sunday mornings are extremely routine. Sunday New York Times and a local greasy spoon for scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, coffee, and wheat toast. Call me picky, but I prefer strawberry jelly or jam with my wheat toast. Strawberry must be the most popular jelly since I have noticed many restaurants try to pass off the "mixed fruit" or grape jellies since they probably have pallets of them in the back. So after asking for strawberry jelly for 4-6 Sundays in a row, they noticed, and now they bring me strawberry without asking. For that, I come back, I tip well, and I am very low maintenance (I never complain, I don’t take a coffee refill, and I leave my paper for other customers).

But since I am neurotic, there is one thing that would make breakfast a little bit better. Since I always eat the bacon, eggs, & hash browns first, the toast is always cold by the time I get to it. I am torn as to whether I should ask them to bring the toast later. If I do, I would do it every week until they just knew I’d prefer my toast brought later. So…does that ruin all the goodwill I’ve created by being an easy, regular customer? Or is that precisely the kind of service that causes a customer to become a Regular?

More importantly, am I becoming Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets?

Neuroses of a Modern Gentleman

Despite all the blog entries about nice clothing, rare cigars, fast cars, and other luxuries that consume my thoughts, I also have my share of neuroses. And I’m curious to see if they afflict other men that would consider themselves "modern gentlemen". So, if our readers like this, there’ll be more to come (I have plenty of "excessive anxiety or indecision and a degree of social or interpersonal maladjustment"); if not, I’ll keep my neuroses to myself and the rejection will probably just cause me to be even more anxious. 

Neurosis #1: A few weeks back, I was in a Peet’s Coffee on a very hot morning, so I ordered a small Iced Mocha. They put iced drinks on the counter without a lid, so I head over to the "supplies counter" (for lack of a better word), and reach into the slot labeled "Small/Medium Iced Lids". As I hold the lid over the cup, I notice it’s not going to fit — it was too big, and probably misplaced.  

What do I do? Throw it away and waste a perfectly good lid? Or put it back, and risk being yelled at by a germophobe?

Let me make a couple points here:

  1. The lids for iced drinks have holes for a straw, so grabbing the outer edges of the lid means that my hand will not have touched any part of the lid that a future user’s lips would touch (the same would not be true of lids for hot drinks);
  2. I would have no problem using a lid that someone else handled in the same way, since I believe that germs are just part of life, and people that obsess about avoiding germs are destined to live miserable lives.
  3. California is the #1 state in the nation in recycling, and I like to think I do my part to keep it there.  

Fearing anger from a germophobe, I throw it away. So I grab a lid from the other stack of plastic cup lids labeled Large Lids thinking the lids just got swapped accidentally. As I lower it to the cup, I notice it’s the same size as the last one, and again, won’t fit. Now what do I do? Again, I throw it away.

So now I think that maybe just the top lid in the Small/Medium stack was wrong, so I grab another one, and yet again, it’s the wrong size. At this point, I’m exasperated. I’ve thrown away two perfectly good lids, and I’ve got another one that won’t fit, and evidently they don’t have any out that actually fit my cup.

Giving up, I throw it away, and as I do, I notice two guys sitting near the window looking at me as though I have just poisoned the planet. But I know, with as crowded as Pete’s was, if I had put the lids back after touching them, someone would have accused me of a Seinfeldian "double-dip", and I would have been equally chastised. It was a lose-lose situation.

Am I crazy?

Neuroses of the Modern Gentleman: Part X

Some say that "Everyone should have to wait tables at least once in their lives." Once you’ve done it, the thinking goes, you’ll have more patience and empathy with those that serve you at restaurants. While I have never waited tables, put me in the column of those that agree with the sentiment. 

On The Fly may be a retailer, but we are in the service business, just like any restaurant. And occasionally, we screw up an order. We send a Large when the customer ordered Extra-Large. We send over-the-calf socks when a customer wanted mid-calf socks. We send Arctic Blue instead of Frost Blue. $#!& happens. And of course we will get the customer what they ordered and pick up the shipping to get the wrong product back to us. 

This morning, I ordered my usual Sunday morning breakfast: eggs, bacon, and potatoes. This particular restaurant offered English muffins or sourdough toast, but I usually prefer wheat toast, so I went with the English muffin. When the food arrived, I was served the sourdough toast. I could have said something, but I didn’t. I can imagine how hard it is to serve a packed restaurant during Sunday brunch. If On The Fly never made a mistake, I’d have sent it back, but alas, we’re only human so I loaded up the sourdough with jam and bit my tongue.