My Plaid Shorts

plaid shortsHer look said disgust.

“Good grief,” my wife told me, “go look at yourself.”

I shuffled into the bedroom to confront the full length 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 tell 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 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 an old man’s wife sneaking them out of the laundry and spiriting them across town for disposal. I can almost feel her fear rising as her husband discovers them missing and flies into a rage.  I can imagine the despair, the accusations and the tearful denials.

Anyways, his loss is my gain.

How did something so hideously ugly find its way into the supply chain?

These things do not occur by happenstance.

What deranged designer was crazy enough to draw red checkered baggy shorts on a sketch pad? Who bullied the tailor into sewing the prototype and how did it all get past marketing? Who coaxed manufacturing into the conspiracy and how could a financial analyst pronounce a product like this 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 have sounded but it did not.

Why not?

Who buys shorts like these 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 the naked truth struck. These shorts were designed, marketed and manufactured for old men like me.

In that instant, I realized I had become an old man – but that did not bother me.  What shocked me was the fear that I had become that kind of old man.

What we wear says who we are.  It is why we dress up  – but there comes a point when we no longer care about saying anything.  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,


As I melted from a graceful bird into an old coot, my wife nudged me aside so she could consult the mirror.

“How do I look?” she asked.

“Like a swan,” I told her, “like a beautiful swan.”

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