SWAG TIMES THREE
"Renaldo, take some notes. Here's how to show some real swag." She drew a sly smile as she bent her chin and bit her inner lip. This time it was a black blazer from Zara, the same white shirt I had worn on my first swag encounter, Glen plaid skinny pants from Banana Republic, a two dollar pale blue vest I had picked up at a vintage clothing store, and a pair of worn white bucks. We had a small discussion about the overweight, sleeveless t-shirt wearing, hairy in all the wrong places passengers she sees more often than she'd like going through security. I know I'm old-fashioned but I think air travel would be so much more palatable if we all wore decent clothing when we travel.
The hostess interrupted our conversation to say, "Starting with dessert tonight Millie?" Millie, who had been watching her feet as she shuffled down the hall raised her eyes long enough to nod at the hostess. That's when she saw me standing at the cashier's desk. Her face turned from slightly startled to slightly coquettish if that is at all possible for someone in her late eighties. I could tell she was doing a once over on me from head to toe with a short stop somewhere mid-way in her survey. Millie had that matted hair of someone spending their fading years in an assisted living facility. Her pale pink polyester corduroy stripped slacks, tiny spring blossom print blouse, heavy sneakers and a hand-knit poncho she wore even though it was almost ninety degrees outside was the look of someone whose memory and faculties were slowly slipping away. At the end of her once over a big smile swept across her face exposing a mouthful of crooked sepia stained teeth. Rather than passing by and back to her booth with her son who had taken her out to dinner she sidled up to me, kissed my arm and said, "You're mighty cute". I suppose I could have gotten upset, brushed her off, asked for assistance from her son, or embarrassed her but I remembered my own mom and her fight with senility. The kiss was tender. I decided this was here way of telling me in her eyes I had swag. She repeated her appraisal of my appearance and gave me a very sly wink. I told her I thought she had some pretty hot swag. She didn't blush or ask what swag was but winked again and walked back to enjoy her dessert-first meal with her son. Flatter still goes a long way in this world.
Cuzco Children, 1948
Irving Penn, photographer
Represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery, NYC