By Guest Writer, Daniel Quigley

Today I come to you with a story, a parable if you will, about lessons I learned growing up.  Lessons I learned about life, girls, and fashion.  First things first, I am a guy who loves sports, playing in the mud, and the simple things in life.  Growing up there was little time for fashion and it seemed of little importance in my youth.  My sense of style was wholly dependent on the whims of my mother.  I was much too busy with mud, bugs, and tormenting the neighborhood girls (due to the fact they had cooties).  I could care less if what I wore was clean, matched, or was modeled by the latest JC Penny fashion child.  If it had a t-rex, a power ranger, or something exploding I was more than happy.

However I had a growing up experience, it was called middle school.  I learned rather quickly that Power Rangers were now dorky and would get me beaten up, bugs bite you, and that girls (while still infested with cooties) were now much more desirable.  Which meant that if I wanted the attentions of little Alison with the blonde hair, I couldn’t continue to let my mother select my clothes for me.  

This new found need for independence threw me into a state of chaos, my social identity was now largely dependent on the image I put out to the world.  As all middle schoolers  know if your social status is not good, your world may abruptly end.  I was not ready yet to be mature and put on * Gasp * a collared shirt, lest I be deemed preppy and alienate my current friend group.  However T-Rex, Ninja Turtles, and the Thundercats would put in with the Magic The Gathering circle.  Neither was a savory option.

So I found a happy medium, sports.  It said hey I’m a guy and I’m cool, but by golly I am not one of those uppity preppy douche bags.  I was suddenly adorned with 49ers jerseys, Giants hats, and shirts that pronounced to the world that I was either “The Big Dog” or had “No Fear”.  My legs featured athletic shorts and pants, and upon my feet were found a pair or Reebok or Nike Basketball shoes.  I had found my niche.  While I might not have been Mr. GQ, I at least was fitting in.

This phase of my life lasted impressively (or depressingly) long.  In fact it lasted through much of my high school life and even a tad into my college years (although “No Fear” and “Big Dog” were ushered out with the 90’s).  I still supported my local sports teams in dress, and still put out what I thought was a “sporty image”.  God bless every girl that dated me, and wasn’t thoroughly embarrassed to be seen with me in public.  I guess you could say I was a late bloomer.   It wasn’t until I turned to a higher power for advice, a power so uniquely tapped into the world of male fashion, that their sage-like wisdom was almost otherworldly.  I tapped into the power of women.  All I can say, is that power is glorious.

It was my freshmen year in college when the first intervention was held.  It was a saint by the name of Kara, she pulled me aside one day and simply stated “Boy, we need to take you shopping.”  So with hard earned summer cash in hand, and a pocket full of dreams I was taken to the local mall.  Here I was given no say, no opinion and simply told to “Try this on.”  Apprehensive and skeptical at first, this bargain hunting, matchmaking, color-coordinating machine of a woman slowly began to put together my ensemble.  Collared shirts flew off the rack, khaki shorts became neatly folded in a bag, and shoes that had more than a Swoosh on them came into my possession.  The change was radical.  Hell it was Revolutionary.  
Suddenly I was more than a hold over from a Gatorade commercial, I had purpose, coordination, and almost a dash of class.  But the real test would come later that evening.  My patron saint Kara, picked out my outfit and simply told me to trust her.  I was a fish swimming in waters, a pilgrim lost in a new world, but I was ready for the adventure.  I showed up at party held by the local fraternity, under age drinkers abound, gorgeous women flocking the streets, my new fashion would be put to the test. 
I was three drinks into the evenings affairs, drinking a beverage that was certainly not alcoholic and at the time illegal for me to consume, when I was approached by a woman much prettier than me.  Now as stated in the above title I tend to be thought of as dashingly handsome, so that would put this woman somewhere between, “Holy crap” and “I can’t remember my own name” hot. 
Long story short, I somehow stumbled, bumbled and slurred my way into convincing this gorgeous young lady to come home with me.  Don’t worry guys…I had my cootie shot.   Sure you can blame the alcohol or the warm southern air, but at the time I was fully convinced it was my new sense of style.  From that point on, I was sold on the concept of dressing to impress.  During my college years, styles came and went, some of them I followed, others I let pass by the wayside.  

Now that I am a full blown mature, working man, I have started to wear full button down shirts, and iron my pants.  I care that I am neatly groomed, and smell like more than gym socks.  Some call it maturity; I call it evolution and growth.  Sure there are some days I throw on the old Niners jersey, put on some sweats and a hat.  But no longer is that my “going out” clothes.  I learned some very important lessons in my evolutionary process, some valuable, some nonsensical.  I believe a wise man by the name of Reinhold Niebuhr once said:
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.”
 I cannot change that I am a guy, who loves sports, playing in the mud, and the simple things in life.  I do not and will not ever have the greatest fashion sense in the world.  But I know when to defer to a higher power.  Whether its my mother, a saint, or the next girl crazy enough to date me.  Simple sage-like advice.  Men of the world, you’re welcome.