In the eleven days since I moved into my flat I have developed many new habits and routines, some of which can be described under the category of regular household things people do and some that require a little more effort to label in a shoebox. For example, I have recently noticed that I have somehow managed to shave around three minutes off the time I spend trimming my stubble every other morning. It now takes me in the region of seven minutes to fashion my facial fuzz to the desired 1.4mm, by which time the coffee machine has filtered Peruvian ground coffee into the waiting pot.
Under the auspices of household upkeep I have been experiencing a compulsion to brush my Portland oak laminate flooring at least once every day. It seems as though every time I turn around there is a speck of dust agitating the surface of the floor. In a corner of the living room I haven’t visited for days there will be a rust-coloured leaf that causes me to question where it came from and how it got there. I haven’t had the window open and none of my houseplants are mature enough to shed any leaves, let alone foliage of a crispy amber disposition. Whether it is a stray strand of thread from a lilac dress shirt or a crumb from food I haven’t even eaten yet, there is always something in need of sweeping up. The frequency with which I have the dustpan and brush out from under the kitchen sink leads me to believe that I am using the broom as some sort of substitute for something which may be missing elsewhere in my life: a girlfriend, romance, adventure. Those are all things that I suspect men who don’t spend so much of their time sweeping fluff from their floor enjoy.
Of all the habits and rituals I have developed over the last while, from washing the left side of my face in the shower with Nivea Deep Cleaning Face Wash before the right side, to spraying my houseplants with exactly four bursts of water from the mist bottle every third day, to leaving the flat at 8.40 every morning to walk up and down the Esplanade in an effort to replicate the twenty minute walk I have lost since moving, nothing has taken me by surprise as much as my recent decision to buy three v-neck sleeveless jumpers in shades of black, navy blue and grey.
I have never really been the jumper wearing type of guy. I think that they look good on other men but always felt that I had the appearance of a person who is hiding something when I wear an item of knittery. I am not sure why I thought about buying three v-neck sleeveless jumpers and I didn’t know where a man would go to buy such an article of clothing, but I became quite compelled by the idea and after several days of trying to picture in my mind whether I could pull off the sleeveless jumper look I Google searched where do men go to buy jumpers without sleeves? and within minutes I had bought three from an online retailer.
Since the sleeveless jumpers arrived I have been going home at night after work and slipping an appropriately coloured jumper over the top of my shirt and tie, rather than go through the drama of changing into a pair of jeans and a checked shirt. It is the ultimate act of sophisticated sloth.
The first evening that I wore this quarter acrylic attire was a strange and curious one. The blue sweater was comfortable and warm, yet I couldn’t fathom how that could be so when large parts of it were missing. In moments of panic I would catch sight of my own arms and wonder why I could see the sleeves of my yellow shirt, and then I would remember that I am now a man who wears a v-neck sleeveless jumper and that I was supposed to be able to see the arms of the garment underneath. I sat on the sofa listening to an easy listening 90’s playlist on Spotify whilst drinking a glass of Chilean Merlot and considered whether this is how men who wear certain types of knitwear behave. I almost felt as though the jumper should have come with a handbook outlining the things that the wearer should and shouldn’t do to convey the appearance of a man who knows that he is wearing a sweater vest.
I sat surveying the surroundings in my living room: the small flame of a tealight candle dancing in an oil burner with a scattering of incense on top which is situated in the middle of my coffee table; the tall, floppy houseplant which is cradled into the corner of the mantelpiece; five chunky unlit red candles sitting in a forked candle holder in front of the fireplace and three picture frames hanging empty on the walls. Is this the room of a man who wears a v-neck sleeveless jumper? I thought that maybe I should be wearing corduroy trousers and clenching a smoking pipe between my thumb and index finger. There would be no tobacco in it, of course, it would be for purely ornamental purposes. Maybe a man who wears a sweater vest would display photographs of New York City in his empty picture frames and he’d be listening to a podcast about true crime or technology. His coffee table might have an arrangement of pot pourri and a copy of The Guardian folded neatly underneath. I pondered whether a man wearing a navy blue sleeveless jumper would be wearing bright orange socks and if he would really be snacking from a plastic tub of mango.
After a few nights wearing a v-neck sleeveless jumper around the flat, the shock of my new sartorial situation had subsided and I began to feel comfortable in my role as a man who lounges around his home in knitwear. I accepted that all the things I had been doing are exactly the sort of things a man who wears sweater vests would do, because I am now that type of man. With that realisation made I got up from the couch and brushed up a spot of soil which had appeared by the foot of a plant pot.
I am now a man who wears a v-neck sleeveless jumper with a sweeping problem.