Her look said disgust.
“Good grief, go look at yourself,” my wife told me.
I shuffled into the bedroom to confront the mirror.
“What do you see?” she asked.
“A beautiful swan,” I said.
“You are hopeless.”
She gets upset whenever I wear my favorite summer shorts in public.
“Plaid is back,” I told her.
“Those,” she said, pointing at my shorts, “will never come back because they never were anywhere to begin with.”
I fear she is right. I bought these shorts for a dollar at the Salvation Army Store. I did it to shock her and horrify my children (mission accomplished) but I soon discovered how comfortable and practical they were. The fabric is soft as fleece and the pleats generously forgive my periodic binges into the forbidden realms of chips and beer.
But before I bought them, I should have answered several troubling questions:
How did they get into the Salvation Army Store in the first place?
Here I envision some old man’s wife sneaking them out of the laundry and speeding them across town for disposal. I can almost feel her fear rising – as her husband discovers them missing and flies into a rage. He rushes into the garage to dump the garbage cart out and sort through the refuse. I can almost imagine the despair, the accusations – as well as the tearful denials.
Anyways, his loss is my gain.
How did something so hideously ugly find its way into the supply stream?
These things do not occur by happenstance.
What designer was mad enough to draw red checkered baggy shorts on a sketch pad? How was a tailor bullied into sewing them and how did the design get past marketing? How was manufacturing coaxed into the conspiracy and how could a financial analyst be foolish enough to pronounce the product profitable? And finally, after all of that, why did upper management sign off?
You would think somewhere along the line the klaxon of alarm would be sounded but it was not.
Who would buy those shorts new?
A clue might be found in the remarkably wide and profoundly deep pockets. The material is so durable that I routinely carry wire snips and screwdrivers in them.
But who does that – besides me?
Then it struck me, the pants I love were designed, marketed and manufactured for old men like me.
At that instant, I realized that I had become an old man – but that did not shock me. What floored me was the fear that I might become that kind of old man.
You see, what we wear says who we are – but there comes a point in life where we no longer give a rip about saying anything. Life has long since painted upon our countenance who and what we are. Changing clothes doesn’t fool anybody, so we might as well dress for comfort.
But that is just it – while standing before the full length mirror it struck me, OH MY GOSH, I AM DRESSING FOR COMFORT! I have become that kind of old man.
As I melted from a graceful bird into an old coot, my wife nudged me aside so she could consult the mirror.
“So how do I look?” she asked.
“Like a swan,” I told her, “like a beautiful swan.”