Dress for Success, or, On Being Comfortable Under Trying Circumstances & the World

Dress. Still considered the most appropriate in terms of form. For function it rates low: too cold most of the year. What it means is reassurance, you are spooned right in there with the rest of the ethic, white-flour fluffy. Dress for. Others. Black is authority, blue trustworthiness, grey bland dependability. Pink is sugar dolly, with spots of blush high up on the cheekbones to match, a realtor out on Sunday afternoon, you spot her half a block away, even before she takes the Open House sign out of her car trunk and hammers it into the ground, awkward but determined.

You bought it. Now it hangs in your cupboard claiming to be a survival suit, dangling-footed rubber. Orange protection, you go cocooned into the frigid water of Juan de Fuca. Everyone else can drown but not you, you're dressed for. You understand direction to be a thin arm around your middle, squeezing. Success. Something you are pushed toward, it recedes along with the precision of your nighttime lists. What you wanted was a resting spot. What you get is shock of salt water up your nose.

Paraded out. First came genuflections to gonads, then to dollars. Symbolically, you might like to become indistinguishable from other but that too would require weeks of secret study, you the sociologist stalking cultural mores, what is the appropriate costume for eating hot dogs, attending a dinner of poets?

Dress for success. Overdress, impress. Digress attention to the impeccable texture of grey flannel, supposed to represent the quality of your brain. Under dress, beach full of molting gulls. Scylla and Charybdis, t-shirts fraying, shabby-drab.


In your suit you can float for hours before you are rescued. Days, even. Waves slap against your hood until you are echo-dizzy, a boathouse when you were a child, magnified, monstrous. You float lower than you thought, cold mouth-level. All the answers to your questions require money, a fur dressing gown, raw silk jogging suits. You could take aim at ordinariness, but what kind of fun would that be?

Zoë Landale
Delta, B.C.

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