Note: Though published today, this post was written before we went away to Hawaii.
My clothes are mad at me. Not all of them, but enough to make it uncomfortable for me to go into my clothes closet. There’s a drumbeat of insurrection. The mood has turned ugly. It’s not quite Syria, but I feel like the top guy there, my enemy, not “the people”, but an aggrieved wardrobe.
A little background…
Dr. M works, and I don’t. We depart for Hawaii, early on a Saturday morning. That means, since her weekdays are busy, that she packs for our trip on the weekend before. (I bring the suitcases up from the basement. It is one of my household duties, along with changing the light bulbs and paying the phone and cable bills. I am sure there are other responsibilities, but they do not occur to me at the moment.)
When somebody else is packing, and your empty suitcase is looking at you, even though your days are considerably freer than the packer’s, you invariably pack too. Otherwise, you look like a slacker. Which, by not working, is suspiciously like what I already appear to be.
That’s when the trouble begins.
When I pack a week before my trip, an inevitable process takes place. First, I decide what to pack – what is going, and what is not. I pack what is going – the stuff I preferentially like to wear and want to wear on the trip.
Then, during the intervening period – the week between the packing and the departing – I am relegated to wearing clothing that did not make the cut, meaning I am attiring myself in apparel I would otherwise never put on.
What this means is that, for an entire week, my wardrobe consists of clothing I do not exactly hate, but if the trip lasts eight days as our trip to Hawaii will, every morning during the time before we leave, when I decide what to put on, I begin the process of, say, selecting a t-shirt – which I change every day and have therefore packed eight for the trip – with my ninth favorite option.
The result is that I have recently been seen walking around in faded t-shirts, overstretched t-shirts, t-shirts that once fit but were shrunk in the laundry, a “Canada” t-shirt with an over-sized moose on it, a gift t-shirt from South Africa whose spear-carrying warriors, through wear and tear, are now shredded and incomplete, a once-funny t-shirt bearing the lettering “Designated Driver” and showing a mounted dog with the reins in his mouth, controlling the horse as his master/rider dozes drunkenly in the saddle behind him, and a joke t-shirt bought at a western poetry gala equating bean eating with farting, the last two t-shirts overstaying their once-reflexive ability to provoke laughter.
Since I packed a week early, I am stuck with looking stupid for an entire week. (I used t-shirts as an example, but I am talking “top to bottom”, underwear, which went through a transition from jockeys to boxers – I am back wearing the jockeys – and past-its-prime drawstring pants, whose drawstrings have somehow lost their ability to hold up the pants.)
It is not like these outfits, in stock but never worn, are fooled by this sudden call to sartorial duty. These are no “bench players” thrust into the game, with hopes of proving themselves and being elevated to the regular rotation. These castoffs unquestionably know the score.
“He is only wearing us because he has to.”
Hey, don’t complain. You weren’t discarded on the “give-way” pile.
“The “give-away” pile would be better. At least poor people would be wearing us. We’re incarcerated in the dresser. We’re like Hinckley. A temporary release, and it’s back in the slammer. Okay, for him, it’s a nuthouse, but it’s the same idea. We are never getting out!”
It is “Dresser Drawer Purgatory” for the t-shirts. And they know it, down to their one hundred percent cotton threads.
Once, they were wardrobe “favorites.” I had selected them after all, except for the South African t-shirt which as I said was a gift though I’d have definitely chosen it if I were there, and the “Moose” t-shirt, a from-the-get-go mistake, which I picked from a tiny array in my hotel gift shop because I wanted a souvenir from Toronto and it was either that or a Mountie doll.
But now, like a former girlfriend where things did not conclude happily, it was not easy to look them in the face.
“We once meant something to each other, and now you’ve cast me aside. Die! Die! Die!”
I am going to Hawaii, with the t-shirts I like better.
And they’re staying home, with moths.
I am sympathetic to their plight. But it is the natural way of things, isn’t it? “When you’re hot, you’re hot; and when you’re not you’re not”?
No. This is more painful. I am not simply rejecting these t-shirt; I am exploiting them. I am wearing them before the trip, only because I don’t want to get the t-shirts I am taking instead of them dirty.
Then – and they know it – it’s right back in the drawer!
There’s this story I’ve been meaning to write about a guy in the South during the Civil War who proposes the idea of freeing the slaves one day a week. The way I’m behaving, I feel very much like that guy.
“You’re free! And now you’re back.”
It is undeniable. I am a slaveholder, with t-shirts!
Oh, the guilt! The unredeemable shame!
I don’t know…
I guess I could take the Moose t-shirt.