Saturday, June 12, 2010

Right-Belters


Six months ago, my world was shattered. It was a collapse that weakened the very structure of my social identity. It started off innocently enough; I arrived at work and began conversing with my semi-esteemed colleagues about the upcoming day’s events when someone noticed that I and a coworker had dressed eerily similar. This is colloquially known as being “twinsies” and carries with it a petty, but very real, stigma. From what I can tell this stigma stems from the assumption that you and your counterpart are so embarrassingly unoriginal that even given the freedom to clothe yourself, it is still likely you will construct an unofficial dress code using mass produced polos from Old Navy.
At any rate, our coworkers had us stand side by side so that they could more efficiently ridicule us when someone pointed out that my belt was on backwards. This drew an uncomfortable amount of attention to my crotch region and soon there was a chorus of voices asking me why my belt was “snaking right.” I laughed nervously as I slowly realized that I was the only guy in the room whose excess belt length pointed to the right instead of the left. I weakly announced that it was a matter of personal preference which was met with jeers and sarcastic comments such as, “You want to trade that in for a right-handed model?” and “I told you he went to public school!”
Quickly conducting an impromptu survey, I found that every man in the building (regardless of handedness) attached their belt in the same manner as my coworkers and I began to suspect that if word got out of my “waist handicap” I would be ostracized. For the remainder of the day, I was painfully self conscious of the positioning of my “pant girder” and even imagined that other passengers on the elevator were quietly ridiculing me behind my back. I can’t believe that for 28 years I had been living a lie, the revelation was almost as earth-shattering as when I found out that all men do not wear clip-on ties.
I decided to confront my parents about this fashion defect and found that I had always displayed signs of ambidexterity so they had not really discouraged any of my “eccentricities” such as the backwards belt. Crestfallen, I decided to sit my wife down and come clean about my dominant-hand ambiguity. The metaphorical tears fell as I admitted that on some level I had always known that I was bi-handed, and I suspect that if she were honest with herself, she had known it too. We decided that there was no reason to hide my belt preference any longer and that I should wear my pant appendage proudly in whatever direction the Good Lord had made me to wear it. That night I fell asleep with the knowledge that I had discovered the true Brian Taylor, and was pleased to make his acquaintance.
The next morning, after my wife left the house, I found myself alone in the closet with a leather belt in my shaking hands. “Just a taste,” I thought to myself as I threaded the belt to the left just to see how it would feel. The movement was awkward, unnatural even, as the low quality leather encircled my waist and I fastened the clasp. Nothing about it felt right and even the belt seemed to protest, its supple form trained from years of going to the right. “I can’t live like this,” I mumbled under my breath as I unthreaded the belt. Ashamed of my momentary lapse, I quickly repositioned the belt to my default position, gathered my pride, and held my head high as I walked into the office.
Several months have passed and although they no longer verbalize it, I knew my colleagues still saw “right-belters” as second class citizens.  They saw them as fashion anomalies that should be relegated to the dredges of society, just like men who feel that a soiled wife-beater satisfies the requirements of “casual dining.” Every now and then they will joke about finding a newspaper article that indicates “left-belting” is an early warning sign of schizophrenia or dementia. I suffered in solitude as I believed that I was the only one of my kind. I even took to the Internet but was only able to discover a single site that provided a haven for people like me. It was a Facebook group titled “i wear my belt backwards. deal with it,” but after reading a few wall posts it seemed that several of the 35 members believed they were in an adult chat room. Disappointed by the lack of solidarity provided by the web, I resigned myself to facing the stigma alone. However, that all changed when our intern Chris started….
One day as I was enduring another round of belt-related ridicule, Chris revealed that he too was a “right-belter” and was unashamed of his looping preferences. I was enthralled to find someone else who shared my special idiosyncrasy and although I was still outgunned, I was no longer alone. Over the following weeks, Chris and I worked to unmask workplace belt discrimination and perhaps it is only wishful thinking, but I cannot help but feel that the world is a safer place for those brave young men who are not afraid to “go right.”
Chris’s internship eventually ended, and I was left alone to fight the good fight once again. Although I occasionally still hear calls of “Hey Belt Boy!” I am proud to announce that I am a right belted American and I will thread my drawers however I feel lead to do so, regardless of how such an action may be perceived. I encourage all other right-belters to make themselves known and stop living in fear.

 

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