The New York Times' Men's Fashion Supplement for spring was published on Sunday, and its timing could not have been better.
Spring is less than two weeks away and I still haven't settled on a look for the season.
Seems like it wasn't that long ago when I could throw on a pair of jeans and a vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt and consider myself presentable for any situation, at least in Southern California, where every day is Casual Friday.
These days, my body is harder to dress.
With this Mother of All Recessions nipping at my heels, I can't afford to hire a fashion consultant. I need all the free guidance I can get, so The New York Times' Men's Fashion Supplement fell into my lap on Sunday like manna from Mr. Blackwell.
If this supplement had been published in January, my first question would have been whether I should wrap my Foley catheter over or under the ankle of my slacks, and which designer label is hot this season for urine collection bags. Happily, that problem was settled by my urologist weeks ago.
That frees me up to move on to Fashion Challenge No. 1: How to dress in style while sporting a G-tube.
I could never master the rule about when to tuck your shirt inside your pants and when to leave your shirt tails out, and I'm struggling with the same question about my G-tube.
Sadly, The New York Times' Men's Fashion supplement on Sunday didn't offer much help.
The book is 118 pages long and packed with ads and features depicting impeccably dressed men, but not a single model among the scores shown in the supplement has a rubber G-tube protruding from his bare torso. Not one!
Nor could I discern that tell-tale G-tube bulge beneath the shirts of the models who weren't flashing their taut tummies.
Until I get some concrete direction on this situation, I'll keep my G-tube concealed between feeding times. But I know that I am fooling no one. Anyone who gleans more than a passing glance at my mid-section can tell that something is wiggling around underneath my shirt.
It sure would be liberating to let it loose.
Challenge No. 2 for me this season is what to do about the area just below my Adam's apple, where my doctor drilled in a plastic tracheotomy tube in January.
Scarves have served me well throughout the winter but these scarves are already looking mighty conspicuous in balmy Southern California.
Even if I could get away with wearing scarves in triple-digit temperatures, whenever I sneeze or blow my nose, gooey stuff sprays out of the trach and drips onto the scarf and onto my shirt.
The New York Times' men's fashion mavens are disappointingly silent on this point. None of the models splashed in yesterday's supplement have artificial breathing aids implanted in their necks, unless they were airbrushed out after the photos were snapped.
Well, maybe I can provide some leadership for men's haberdasheries everywhere.
Wasn't that long ago that piercings were rare in men. And what is my trach if not an extreme piercing held in place by a dog collar?
Fortunately, I was able to squeeze some value out of yesterday's Times Men's Fashion Supplement.
The book shows that I am right on the money about two fashion trends this season.
Head's up, Joaquin Phoenix: Whiskers appear to be on the way out. And lucky for me: The searing effect of radiation therapy on my beard means that I am right in sync with the baby-face boys shown in the Times.
Second, the gaunt Jack Skellington look is still in.
My doctors have been harping on me to gain weight, which has been stuck at about 135 pounds over the past few weeks. And I don't think that there is a single male model depicted in yesterday's fashion supplement whose weight comes within two cheeseburgers and a milk shake of my weight. A few of these mop-topped rails make Kate Moss look like Totie Fields in comparison.
So my present weight and hairless mug give me at least a whiff of style.
Maybe that's enough to offset the jarring effect of the G-tube and trach. Maybe not.
But it'll be enough to get me through this season. By the time that the fall Times Men's Fashion supplement rolls around, I hope to be fat, hairy, and G-tube and trach-free.
And blissfully out of style.