Clyde Frazier
Salvatore Pane


When Clyde Frazier is a boy, he spends weekends and summers at his father's autobody shop. It is a working class wonderland oozing with grease, every surface filthy to the touch. Not a single day goes by when Clyde Frazier doesn't get dirty, his Knicks t-shirt blackened with soot, his cheeks grimy with dirt. Once, after the cars are all moved inside and the overhead door locked, his father takes Clyde Frazier to visit his mother at the mall. She works in Sears selling treadmills for minimum wage and commission. Her lips spread into smile when Clyde turns the corner, but it quickly recedes into frown. She rushes over, licks her finger, and tries to rub the grease from Clyde's shirt. It won't come out. She turns to Clyde's father and asks, "Why didn't you clean him up before coming here?" Clyde doesn't catch his father's reaction. He wanders away to the exit but doesn't leave the mall. He watches cars drive by in the parking lot. He can't articulate it, but this is when he begins equating poor appearance with shame.


Sister Raymond Mary passes out sign-up sheets for the AP History test that will decide whether or not students receive college credit. Clyde Frazier sits in the back of the room nervously biting his pencil. He does not like his classmates. A pretty blonde girl raises her hand. "Sister Raymond Mary," she asks, "this test really costs fifty dollars?" The nun—her face a series of folds like a Shar Pei—says, "Yes. Unless, the guidance counselor said you didn't have to pay." The previous week, the guidance counselor took Clyde Frazier out of class and told him that because of his family's "income situation", he qualified to take the test for free. Another student shouts that he wants to take the test for free too, but the pretty blonde says, "No you don't. Then you'd be poor." The other students laugh. Clyde Frazier pulls at the sleeve of his sports coat purchased off the discount racks at Burlington Coat Factory. He doesn't tell his dad what happened when he picks him up in his F150. He doesn't tell him mom when she returns from Sears. He never tells anyone. Instead, Clyde Frazier locks himself in the bathroom after dinner and masturbates thinking of the pretty blonde. When he's done, he stares at the globs of come smeared across his palm and thinks, "Fuck you, bitch. Fuck you."


As a newly minted college instructor, Clyde Frazier is delighted to discover he is beloved by his students. They adore him. They make a Facebook group about him. They visit him during office hours with doodles they've made of him in other classes. During Clyde Frazier's second semester of teaching, he receives student evaluations from the first. They are mostly what he expects. Praise. Secret jokes. A few words of criticism. But then he comes to this comment: "Good prof, but what was he wearing?" Clyde Frazier opens his closet. There are his cheap Target sweaters. There are his few Lacoste polos rescued from the consignment shop. There is his hoodie from college, holes pockmarking the sleeve. Clyde Frazier vows to dress better. He has an adult job now—even though it pays so very little—and he can't continue to dress like he did in college. His solution is subscribing to GQ. In its pages he is led into a world of dandy wonder. The suits and sweaters are sported by Kanye West and Drake, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. GQ introduces him to a brand new roster of rappers. He listens to A$AP Rocky sing, "The only thing bigger than my ego is my mirror/clothes get weirder" and thinks, "Yes." He listens to Jay-Z sing, "Middle finger to my old life" and thinks, "Yes." He listens to Childish Gambino sing, "Got the tortoise shell frames/Tom Ford pea coat/I'm a lot more dope/I'm a lot more fly/and my wallet stay fat/but I starve my tie" and thinks, "Yes! A thousand times yes!" Clyde Frazier recognizes that despite his working class origins, he is beyond privileged as a white male college instructor. He recognizes that in many ways he is appropriating minority culture. But he can't help relating to these rappers and NBA players in Umit Benan three-piece suits. He devours style blog after style blog. He refines opinions about JFold wallets, Brooks Bothers pocket squares, Mr. Hare double monks. Clyde Frazier is born anew in the crucible of menswear. Clyde Frazier is fulfilled by clothes, so many glittering clothes like manna fallen from the heavens.


Clyde Frazier begins going to dive bars alone. He asks the bartender to put the Knicks on and ignores the stares. He's come to terms with the fact that this is not a basketball city. The few other men sitting at the bar wear Carhartts and Wolverine shit kickers. Clyde Frazier has arrived in third wave boat shoes—a red and blue collab between Sperry and Band of Outsiders—a pair of 31 x 32 gray Producer Pants from Express, a custom-fit blue plaid Ralph Lauren button down with a spread collar, a slim, silk knit tie from the Knottery, and a one inch metallic blue tie bar from The Tie Bar. The bottom of his pants are rolled up to show off his ankles, a new trend from Milan Clyde Frazier discovered on Men's Reverie, an Italian style blog he can only read using Google Translate. He drinks whiskey after whiskey while watching the Knicks. Eyes glassy, he says to no one, "Them 'Bockers are swishing and dishing. They got them Bulls stumbling and bumbling. The Bulls will pay for their transgressions at the foul line." No one says anything so Clyde Frazier tosses back his whiskey and pushes off from the bar. He stares at the men who in so many ways resemble his father. "I'm not fucking poor!" Clyde Frazier yells. "I'm not fucking poor anymore!"

Salvatore Pane is the author of a chapbook, #KANYEWESTSAVEDFROMDROWNNG. His first novel, LAST CALL IN THE CITY OF BRIDGES, will be out soon from Braddock Avenue Books.

W i g l e a f               10-25-12                                [home]