We all know the saying, generally delivered to a commoner by the fanciest of fancy man: I put my pants on just like you, one leg at a time.
Pants, be they short- or hot-, are the great equalizer, worn by all — even women!! And, unless you’ve got help, there aren’t too many options for putting on your trousers. We’re all pants one-at-a-timers.
I had always thought this was also true of coats. I put my coat on just like you, one arm at a time.
But then I watched The West Wing.
Martin Sheen’s President Josiah Bartlet was many things — verbose, principled, witty — but many of us WW devotees were most struck by his ballsy, two-at-a-time jacket application style.
The way Sheen puts that suit coat on — unfurling it, whipping it over his head and sliding his arms in — is so damn baller. So presidential. Watching Sheen put on his coat was so arresting that it felt like WW creator Aaron Sorkin must have written that particular presidential quirk into the pilot script. Bartlet delivers the withering critique and then jams both his arms into his coat, snapping it over his head because he’s the goddamn President, thank you very much.
Bartlet’s majestic coat application was so prominent that devoted YouTuber Simon De Little created a supercut of Sheen’s jacket fanfare.
Why does Bartlet feel the need to jam both arms in simultaneously and flip the whole bitch upside down? De Little offers a possible (very British) explanation: “Jed is a very busy man who can’t be faffing about putting his jacket on one arm at a time like us normal people.”
So there I was, comfortable in the knowledge that Martin Sheen had put his coat on in an insane, two-armed way as Jed Bartlet in The West Wing to add a little gravitas to El Presidente.
And then I watched Oliver Stone’s 1987 classic Wall Street, a movie I had never seen.
In it, Sheen plays the father of Bud Fox (played by his real-life son Charlie), Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko’s protege. The elder Sheen is a hardworking union man, a machinist who works for a small airline. He smokes cigarettes and drinks beer. He is not presidential.
This is just how Martin Sheen puts on his jacket! Someone taught him this! Why in God’s name did someone teach him this?! Did he teach Charlie and Emilio his patented two-arm coat method? I have so many questions.
Did his parents Mary-Ann Phelan and Francisco Estevez Maritnez teach him this as a child in Dayton, Ohio? Does Martin put on his coat this way because of the limited lateral movement in his left arm, which is three inches shorter than his right after it was crushed by a forceps during his birth? Does Martin put on his coat this way because of his one-year bout of polio, which was ultimately cured using the mobilization method pioneered by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, the Australian nurse considered the mother of physical therapy and the subject of the 1946 film Sister Kenny starring Rosalind Russell in the titular role?
Sorry, Sister Kenny: this part-time blogger thinks Sheen is the true pioneer.
In 2017, I resolve to put my coat on like Martin Sheen: two damn arms at a time.