But then? She introduced me to Stacy and Clinton.
I’d heard of What Not to Wear before, but the title had always turned me off. I thought it would be mean, that it would make fun of the people who appeared on it, that they would be taking folks who dressed quirkily or out of step with fashion, and cram them into one-look-fits-all outfits.
But that is not the point of view of What Not to Wear. I’ve written about my admiration for Stacy & Clinton & Ted & Carmindy before, but to put it succinctly, it’s a show where fashion/life gurus help people find their truest selves. They encourage their contributors (they call them contributors!) to look at why they wear clothes that don’t fit, why they try to avoid being seen, and why they duck away from opportunities for happiness.
But it wasn’t really that I’d found What Not to Wear. It’s that my wife had found something about me — that I was attracted to positivity, that I valued kindness over snark. I didn’t know much about fashion or style, or at least I didn’t philosophize about it, before watching What Not to Wear, but watching and talking about Stacy & Clinton led us to what is probably the television love of our lives.
Kate didn’t introduce me to Mad Men, but watching it with her and talking about it with her led me to appreciate it as more than a sophisticated soap. I think I can be a little clothes-blind when I watch television, and I’m prone to miss out on subtleties or symbols in fashion design. Even when she said something simple like, “If two characters are aligned philosophically, they’ll show them in similar colors or patterns. They’re part of the same color scheme because they’re aligned.”
In Mad Men’s season six premiere, Don and Pete were on the same page — looking outward — while Roger stood apart by looking inward. This sort of thing is worthy of its own article, but writing about it here feels like I’m trying to complete a high school Spanish assignment, or like I’m writing with my left hand. I get it, and I can do it, but it doesn’t come entirely naturally. Watching Mad Men with Kate, and talking about it after, is like having an external hard drive where I store my thoughts and revelations about the show; I agree with almost everything she discovers about the show, and I’m not a dumb guy, but boy I’d never figure that stuff out on my own.
Mad Men is our true love, but there’s another place where we feel the most comfortable. Where we go to be together in silence, often over dinner, after hard days or long days or (sometimes) just for fun.
Rock music? Me.
Alex Trebek’s dad-style bad jokes? EVERYONE, don't front.
We still try out new shows (Jane the Virgin is on deck), and it’s a kind of game in and of itself figuring out which shows we’ll enjoy together and which we’ll enjoy separately. I’m watching Twin Peaks — I’ve seen the first season twice, but never the second — and Kate watches some episodes over my shoulder for the outfits and gender dynamics, but even when she's not there, I look at the show differently knowing how she might react to it.
That's a common but complicated thing — trying to understand someone else's inner life. It's what we'll do our entire lives with the people we love most and the people we see every day. I think my wife's spirit animal is Dana Scully, and I can't watch The X-Files without wondering if this is an episode Kate would love, or be indifferent to, and why or why not either way.