We encouraged people to get into the spirit of the “Top Gun” movie, if they planned to attend one of our wine pickup parties this month.
Boy, did C. Patrick Neagle embrace the full range of potential attire.
Neagle, a writer and adjunct college instructor, calls Trout Lake home these days.
For his “Top Gun” experience, he could’ve gone bonkers and concocted some sort of Naval aviation costume.
But no, that would’ve been too easy.
Instead, he embraced, as he puts it, “the way of the towel.”
Sartorially deconstructed and spinning out of control toward minimalism, he showed up June 13 at the Hood River tasting room wearing a white terrycloth towel.
Nothing else. Just a towel.
He says he got the idea from another Club Naked member, chatting during a previous visit.
“He mentioned that he would come in a towel, and I thought that was a brilliant idea,”
Neagle says. “I hoped he would be there and I could say: Maverick, it’s not your flying, it’s your attitude. The enemy’s dangerous, but right now you’re worse. Dangerous and foolish.’ ”
Foolish, wearing a towel to a wine pickup party? For Neagle, that was just the start of a day in high concept.
“In the entire movie, everyone is always sweaty, to the point where I wanted for the costume to be really authentic, I wanted to take a mister,” he says.
But he forgot. He was busy getting … wrapped. He says the towel — a regular bath towel, from Ikea — was held on by nothing but a tuck.
“I got dressed up here, if you can call a towel getting dressed,” he says. “I drove down with me wearing the towel. I spent three to four hours in the towel. This is a really good towel, so I didn’t once have to adjust it.”
To ensure its security — because, as should be the case, he wasn’t wearing anything beneath the towel — he tested it.
“To demonstrate the towel, I jumped up and down several times,” he says. “It never gave or loosened.”
Good thing, because his girlfriend, artist Angela Bliss, wasn’t so sure about the jumping up and down idea.
Neagle’s real life isn’t that far from the fictive world of Navy pilots on Navy ships in “Top Gun.” A native of Missouri, Neagle employed his master’s degree in English to secure a gig teaching on board U.S. Navy ships. He works through Central Texas College in Killeen, and its Navy College Program for Afloat College Education.
“They call me up, and tell me such and such ship is available, for such and such classes, and do I want to take it?” Neagle says.
“They fly me to the ship wherever it is. I get on board, and I’m there for usually one or two terms. One term is 7-8 weeks, so I can be on board four months.”
Shipboard life, for those who haven’t lived it themselves, is noisy, full of mechanical odors, and crowded. He shares a dorm-like space with four or five other teachers. They teach two to three times a day, three days a week.
The rest of the time, Neagle writes. He says he can draft a novel during a teaching cruise.
Because of that work flexibility, he says, he and Bliss can live anywhere — and have. Before moving to Trout Lake in 2013 — and joining Club Naked in 2014 — Neagle and Bliss lived in Mexico, Sardinia, Alaska and New Orleans.
Trout Lake works for now, in part because it’s close to the Hood River tasting room of Naked Winery.
And Ikea, in case he ever needs a new towel.