Friday, March 21, 2008

Alter Deutsch

A couple months ago I was at the Minneapolis airport (long before the wide-stanced bane of the Idaho Statesman showed up), picking Rebecca up from the airport. I brought a book and read it by the baggage carousel when this singular gentleman appeared.

He looked German, his clothes appeared like those of a German scholar from sixty or more years ago. He wore a dark field jacket and a three-piece suit that looked like tweed but of a tighter weave. It gave the impression of grey though it may have actually been sage with natural fiber or something. I don't know enough about fabrics to accurately call it.

The jacket of the suit went to his hips. He wore a three-button vest beneath it, with an actual pocket watch and chain running between the front pockets. That was impressive as hell and I tried to study the buttons on his jacket or vest, but this was a long time ago and I can't recall.

He wore knee breeches, which you just don't see anywhere in real life, worn in all earnestness, anymore. He had dark socks with a thin argyle pattern on the sides, I think, and these newish looking shoes of such an unusual cut. All his clothes appeared new, as if it were a graduation gift from his parents, celebrating commencement from some exclusive private school up in the mountains. The shoes seemed like they might be lounging shoes for someone who was otherwise a professional hiker. They had none of the contemporary trimming or fitting, with the sides rising up to form a seam where the laces held them together, rather than lying flat like our shoes do. There was no question of their craftsmanship, they would hold up together for a good decade or two, with proper care, and he struck me as the kind of gentleman who does brush his suit and polish his shoes each night.

He even had thin gold rimmed glasses, if I recall correctly. He really appeared for all the world as though he were stepping out of a bygone era! His grooming, his clothing were all things of the past. I wanted more than anything to ask what his story was, but that would have been astoundingly rude for someone of my age. A little kid could have asked, but he wouldn't have understood any of the answers.

I don't even know who else to ask about this. All I can do is toss up the question and hope that someone, somewhere, happens by remote chance to have some experience with this. I can't imagine how I would begin to research something as uncommon as this. Imagine if you saw someone strutting around in a British Redcoat outfit, full battle gear, but someone who wasn't just showing off his crap. Say that he was wearing such an outfit but also was a bit self-conscious, knowing how badly he was standing out of the crowd. As was this gentleman: he had a slight hunch to his shoulders, the hunch of a diligent student or the hunch of a tall man wishing to diminish his height.

But to walk around in an antiquated outfit like this as though he were stepping out of a context with real-world application... I wanted to know so badly! I wanted to know whether he was training for mensur! I wanted to know if he was an elite scholar or some kind of underground mage, called out to the States for a particularly dire mission! I really regretted having abandoned my German language lessons, that would at least have gone some way towards taking the edge off of my naive, impertinant inquiries.

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