Of all the absurd articles of clothing I have worn in my life--at least among those I'm willing to admit to on these pages--perhaps the most ridiculous is the dickie. In case you don't know what a dickie is, it's a turtleneck. No, not a turtleneck shirt or sweater, just the turtleneck. It's simply a cloth collar with two flaps that tuck into your shirt. Its purpose is to give the illusion that you are wearing a turtleneck shirt under your outer-shirt, when in fact you are simply wearing...a dickie.
Dickies were quite popular when I was in grade school and were worn by both boys and girls. They came in a variety of colors, but as far as I was concerned there was only one color worth wearing, and that was black. From my eleven year old point of view, wearing a black turtleneck shirt under a white shirt, along with black "trousers," was just about as cool as a fifth grader could hope to get. And when I wore this combo I did
feel cool. And even then I knew that when I substituted a dickie for the full black turtleneck the coolness factor immediately went down. Way down.
Now how could this be, you wonder, when to the outside world you'd look the same whether you wore the full turtleneck or the tricky dickie? That's just it. There was no way that a white shirt was going to mask the presence of a black dickie. A dark shirt could hide a light colored dickie, of course, but what did that have to do with me? I already told you that the only cool combination was the black turtleneck and the white shirt. And so that is what I wore, and for the most part without any permanent stigma. After all, half of the other knuckleheads in my class were wearing dickies too.
I don't remember when we stopped wearing this silly piece of clothing. I do, however, have a vague recollection of unbuttoning some girl's blouse and seeing that she was wearing a dickie, partially hiding her brassiere. (But not for long!) Now I assure you that if this actually happened, and I believe it did, it certainly wasn't during grade school or junior high school. Why, it's a long shot that it even happened in high
school. (Although it's not impossible, thank you very much.) Is there a chance that women were still wearing dickies when I was in college? Well, whether they were or weren't, be assured that I, your humble and stylish narrator, most certainly was not.
I suspect that there are some people who still wear a dickie today, and not just aging women trying desperately to cover up that wobbly turkey-neck. Aren't there some military marching bands that wear bright reds ones during parades? If I had more journalistic integrity, or any, I'd head on over to the men's department at Penney's. I probably wouldn't have the nerve to ask the salesperson if they had any but I could at least scout around a bit. Maybe I could even try one on. Heck, maybe I'd even buy one. After all, even though I don't have a clue how much a dickie might cost today, it would have to cost me less than that turkey-neck surgery.