I unavoidably spend lots of my time in New York idling around various spots, like a pizzeria or coffee shop. Sometimes it’s the subway or the highline. But while my body idles my mind observes and judges whatever passes through my field of vision.
I’ve come to the conclusion that life is the greatest work of art of all, it just helps to appreciate it when there’s a pane of glass separating you from the subject matter. It’s taken between five and six weeks to reach this humanistic conclusion and this (tentative) series of blog entries is about what I thought before.
Shirts On, Shirts Off: The correlation between public exposure and perceived sanity
I’m walking down the street and see a man walking in my direction. I notice his unshaven beard, crazy bed head, and exposed arm and chest tattoos. It’s the early afternoon and he’s staggering around the sidewalk like he’s drunk.
Normally, this particular situation wouldn’t faze me. Tattoos are cool and being grungy is fairly standard. I don’t really care if someone’s drunk, so long as they don’t stumble or vomit in my general direction. What made the situation overly odd, the man socially devious, and me personally uncomfortable was the guy’s lack of shirt.
At any given time, a shirt is all that prevents a scenario from being strange and awkward. A stranger asks you for directions on the subway. The burrito roller at Chipotle asks what kind of protein you’d like in your faux-mexican dish. The interviewer for the job you applied for asks if you have any sales experience. Imagine the other person not wearing a shirt in these situations.
Now, imagine you’re not wearing a shirt either. See, it’s weird.