Lesson from prom season: Boys, it’s time to learn to wear a suit

The other day, I passed a bunch of kids going to prom. The girls, in their gowns, with their hair fixed just so, were beautiful. The boys, in their rented tuxedos, looked like dorks. The girls carried themselves like women. The boys looked like dorks.

Mark Zuckerberg, May 2007
Mark Zuckerberg (Wikipedia)

I understand we’ve become a casual society, that it’s OK, apparently, for a CEO to wear a hoodie when he meets with Wall Street investors, but, boys, you really ought to learn to wear a suit.

It isn’t hard: Don’t slouch. Don’t horse around. Tuck in your shirt. Straighten your tie. Back up: Learn to tie a tie. Don’t wear a clip-on or that crappy bow tie with the elastic band that came with your rented tux. Tie it yourself. Don’t go for that end-of-the-day loose knot. You haven’t earned it. Straighten your tie.

I was a teenage boy once. I know it’s weird dressing up. It’s uncomfortable, and it makes you feel really self-conscious. I know a guy, his daughter bought a prom dress, went to the salon and was ready for prom when her date called to say he looked dumb in a tux and that he wasn’t going, and he didn’t.

Boys, don’t be that guy. Learn to wear a suit.

It’s important, because a guy in a suit looks like he knows what he’s doing. He looks like he’s in charge. He looks confident. Someday, you’ll want a job, a real job, and you’ll need to wear a suit and look good doing it, because, let’s face it, you’re not Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t have any billion-dollar ideas, and, even if you did, you wouldn’t have a clue about how to make them happen. You’re going to need a job, and to get a good job, you need to learn to wear a suit.

Khakis, a blue shirt and a Navy blazer don’t count as a suit.

Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story trailer

Years ago, I read something, attributed to Cary Grant. He was a movie star, and looked like it. He was the George Clooney of his day, only smooth, and he never played Batman, although he sure as hell would have made a great Bruce Wayne. Anyway, Cary Grant supposedly said a guy needs only one suit, but it had better be a good one. That’s good advice.

Trust me: You want Mark Zuckerberg’s money, but you need Cary Grant’s style.

Now that you mention it, that office building does sorta look like Batman

Saw a story the other day about a Dutch architectural firm that was catching flak because its design for a new project in South Korea kind of looks like the twin towers of the World Trade Center blowing up.

The design by MVRDV is called The Cloud, and that billowing “smoke” in the middle is a bridge between the 2 towers and is meant to suggest, you know, a cloud.

The firm has since posted an apology on its Facebook page. It says it “regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes (sic) regarding 9/11.”

Some people may look at the design and think, How could they not see that it looks like 9/11, but I understand, because I live in a city where the skyline is dominated by a building that looks like Batman.

The AT&T Building (formerly the South Central Bell Building) was completed in 1994 and is topped by twin spires. When you look at it from the street, it looks like a regular office building, but from a distance, it looks like the silhouette of Batman. In fact, locals call it the “Batman Building” or just the “Batbuilding.”

Photo by nolifeik, via Flickr

It’s hard not to notice the resemblance, but a few years ago, I was talking with someone who worked at the local firm that designed it, and I asked, “When you were designing it, didn’t anyone notice that it looked like Batman?” She said no.

She said the towers are there because they suggest a pair of antennae (I don’t know if they actually work), which seemed appropriate for a communications company.

According to the Wikipedia article about the building, the president of the architectural firm Earl Swensson Associates said South Central Bell wanted “a signature piece of architecture.”

I’d say they got it.

In 2009, the French online business journal Le Journal du Net named “la ‘Bat Tower'” one of the 12 most-original office buildings in the world. Plenty of mid-sized cities have glass office towers or old buildings with gargoyles, but only the Nashville skyline is guarded by the Dark Knight.


I’m dreaming of a geek Christmas

I just emailed Santa my wish list:

Star Wars Han Solo Carbonite Chocolate Bar ($11.99, ThinkGeek.com)

Remember in “The Empire Strikes Back,” when Darth Vader seals Han Solo in carbonite and hands him over to Boba Fett to deliver to the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt? This is that, only smaller and made of dark chocolate.

Rocket-shaped salt and pepper shakers ($48, UncommonGoods.com)

Used to, kids dreamed of becoming astronauts. Today, not so much. Space flight has lost a lot of its romance, and rockets are just another budget item for politicians to haggle over. (We’re bumming rides from the Russians these days, for crying out loud.) These sleek salt and pepper shakers are a nice reminder of when the future was bright and anything seemed possible. Plus, they’re cool-looking.

Speaking of rockets….

1/48 scale model of the Lunar Excursion Module ($141.81, Amazon.com)

This isn’t a model kit or a toy. This is one of those sturdy things guys used to put on their desks. OK, geeky guys, but still, guys. Here’s something you might not know: The real LEM didn’t have seats. Seats would’ve made it too heavy, so Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed standing up.

Tin robots (various)

I love these things. I want an army of them guarding my desk. Vintage tin robots would be best, but I’d settle for reproductions. I love the colors and the clunky design and the fact that they’re mechanical, not digital, and that they’re completely impractical. I don’t think there’s really a need for a giant mechanical man with a human face and machine guns its chest, but, I have to say, that would be kind of cool

Star Trek Starship Enterprise Pizza Cutter ($29.99, ThinkGeek.com)

I’m not much of a Trekker, but I am a geek, and this is pretty cool … so cool, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be too embarrassed to use it, probably, depending on who’s around.

1966 Batmobile ornament ($17.95, Hallmark)

What I really want is a real Batmobile. There’s a guy in Indiana who makes them, life-sized and street legal, but they’re $250,000 each, so I’d settle for this. Plus, it plays the “Batman” theme. Nothing says Christmas like the “Batman” theme.