Sometimes, during an unguarded moment, you can learn more about yourself than you can from meditation, journaling, or – may I be forgiven by a dear one engaged in that enterprise – therapy.
I am getting dressed, as I have on numerous occasions in the past, daily, in fact, and sometimes, more than once. The day in question was one of those “ get dressed twice” days, not because I was unsuccessful at it the first time – I have been dressing myself since I was (Insert inappropriately advanced “joke age” here) – but because the situation called for me to dress once, and then change, later in the day.
When I’m home, I dress – being generous in the description – casually – “casually”, to me, meaning, “Am I warm enough? Is everything covered? I’m dressed.” Being home, I have nobody to dress for. We have a housekeeper, and she needs to be protected; otherwise, apparel issues are of minimal concern.
I get a call indicating the necessity of a wardrobe re-booting for an upcoming “dining out.” Few eateries would find my “home” ensemble “restaurant acceptable”, so it is necessary to upgrade my attire.
That’s when it happened.
Replacing my sweatpants with restaurant-worthy khakis, I am struck, to my surprise, chagrin, confusion and nothing close to delight, by this stunning realization:
I have twelve belts.
From a self-realization standpoint, it was like being hit by a lightning bolt, and not in a good way. I felt an immediate wave of disgust. Somehow, very gradually and without my realizing it, I had become a man I no longer knew. Who was this profligate stranger? This…
Man With Twelve Belts!
Seven brown and four black. And one – Lord help me, for I love this belt so! –reversible. I find this a remarkable achievement. You twist around the buckle, and, if the brown side was previously showing, now, it’s the black. Is that not amazing! The brain that came up with such genius could easily solve the problem of nuclear waste disposal, were they interested in saving the planet, rather than original belt design.
A person who owned such an item, whose wardrobe – as most men’s do – calls only for black or brown, could comfortably make do with that single reversible belt. I own such an item. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I own an additional
In my defense, feeble as it is, not all my belts are in usable condition. I have one seriously misshapen specimen, a gift, it would seem, from a Manual Training student at the lower end of the “grade curve.” I have another that is severely split along the edges. But, honestly, would I really feel better about myself if I announced to the world that
“I have ten belts”?
So we’ll leave it at twelve. Though it sickens me to think about it, there must actually have been a day when I had eleven belts, and for reasons entirely beyond my comprehension,
I bought another one!
What was I thinking?
“An even dozen, and I’ll be happy”?
I feel I should be struck down for having twelve belts. Who needs twelve belts! There are people walking around with no pants, or, more likely, a single pair but they’re not very nice. And here I am, with
I know the standard rebuttal. “If you had less belts, would the poor have more pants?”
Or the “trickle down” economic response – “Every time you buy a new belt, the cattle ranchers, the hide scrapers, the leather craftsman, the dyers, the stitcherers, the belt-hole specialists, the bucklemakers, the entire belt-assembly team, plus the haberdasher at the end of the chain, have a little more money to put food on the table, and send their children to college.
“You’re not ‘buying a belt.’ You’re supporting an industry!”
Such arguments are not without merit. But they do not protect me from what I’ve become. To paraphrase the nutrition motto, “You are what you hold up your pants with.” And mine are held up by an indefensible number of belts.
I flee from my outrageous excess, downstairs, where I can distance myself from my shame. I get ready to leave for dinner, pocketing wallet and keys. It’s a little chilly, so I head for the coatrack. I stop in my tracks, a startling realization freezing me to the spot.
I have three windbreakers.