Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Great Yarn a Little Addiction Makes Him Crazy for Sweaters

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Great Yarn a Little Addiction Makes Him Crazy for Sweaters

Article excerpt

OK, SO I HAVE a sweater fetish. It's nothing to be ashamed of. After all, there are far worse addictions. Any obsession that has thus far escaped the notice of talk-show hosts and the producers of "Hard Copy" can't be all bad.

Even so, occasionally the nightmare returns: A familiar voice announces, "On today's `Oprah,' threadbare cardigans and the men who love them." There I am in full disguise, platforms, bell-bottoms and a wide psychedelic tie. Oprah, clad in a flatteringly tailored Donna Karan ensemble, wraps me in her trademark hug and coos in dulcet tones, "All right `Bill,' tell us how it began."

"I was 4," I say, as the camera zooms in for an intimidating close-up, "in the boy's department at Stix, Baer & Fuller. My grandmother let me try on a red blazer with a coat-of-arms stitched on its breast. When she tried to remove it, I yelled bloody murder. It was embarrassing, but it worked - I got to keep the blazer. After my darling grandma paid for it, of course. From blazers I graduated to miniature wingtips and clip-on ties. They nearly laughed me out of kindergarten, but I pressed on. It's been one fashion item after another ever since."

Inevitably, my spouse elbows me from the cold clutches of sleep. I wake up damp, muttering unintelligibly. My 1979 navy Izod cardigan (Yeah, I sleep with it. So what?) is pressed tightly to my chest.

Yes, my current affair is with cardigans, and it's no secret. I practically live in them, and going to work without one would be like leaving home naked. Green, brown, blue, forest, timber, azure - they're as connected to my workplace identity as my hopelessly messy desk. Once a leering colleague said, "Tell me, did those sweaters come with the job?"

Let them smirk.

In my spare time, I take comfort in remembering my favorite scene from "American Gigolo." Richard Gere, highly paid lover-for-hire, carefully drapes several shirt-tie assemblages on his bed and gives them the once-over. …

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