While driving to USC on Wednesday afternoon to moderate a panel discussion featuring Hollywood script readers, I realized that I had made a major fashion faux pas before leaving the house and that it was too late to go back home to correct it. I was wearing my fabulous brown Ben Sherman shoes and matching brown socks—but I had accidentally put on a black belt! What the hell was I thinking?! That's a basic fashion no-no that someone like me should know instinctively straight out of the womb.
I thought to myself, "I now know what it feels like to be a straight guy." The difference is, of course, straight guys are blissfully unaware of their fashion naivete, so they never would've gotten as panicked as I did, cursing at myself in rush-hour traffic.
Shortly before I had to show up at the venue, I pulled into the shopping center across from the USC campus. I rushed through the complex, looking for a men's clothing store. No such luck. I blew into a women's shop and asked the woman at the counter, "Do you have anything—anything—that looks like a men's belt?" She pointed at a rack chock full of fake diamond-studded atrocities. "There's no way I could pull that off," I thought and got back into my car.
On my phone, I searched for stores that might've carried men's belts. Nothing nearby. Damn. I decided to drive and drive.
After a few miles of wandering the city, I spotted a sign for a fashion outlet. I wasn't sure what that meant, really, but I went inside anyway, only to find a rack full of men's belts that were all black.
Next door there was a Rite Aid, and I remembered seeing belts at a Walgreen's once. Not an obvious choice, but, hey, they had 'em. So I went into the Rite Aid and found a bunch of made-in-China $2.99 belts. There were a lot of brown ones.
And here I encountered the greatest dilemma I have faced all year. Was it better to wear a cheap $2.99 brown belt (that was probably assembled by asthmatic Asian children) to go along with my fancy brown shoes? Or was it better to wear a classy, elegant, expensive black belt to go along with my fancy brown shoes?
In the end, I waltzed onto the USC campus with the brown belt. As Billy Crystal's SNL character, Fernando, used to say, "It is better to look good than to feel good."
(By the way, the panelists were insightful and engaging, and the event was packed. I think the Los Angeles Times highlighted it somewhere, so we had plenty of non-MPW students show up too. Ah, yes, expanding the empire—one fashionable event at a time.)