I remember sitting on the old black stove in the kitchen as a little boy while my mother taught me how to tie my shoes. Beyond that, I never needed guidance getting dressed until, in my teens, my dad taught me how to tie my necktie which held me in good stead when I joined the Air Force.
I have always taken pride in my appearance. My dad used to say “shined shoes and neatly combed hair are better then all the fine clothes you can wear”. Boy, am I dating myself now. But as I grew, my standard attire became a business suit and basically only entailed matching it with your tie and your shirt and your shoes. How hard was that.
Then I retired and it all changed. My wardrobe slowly morphed into Levi’s, tee shirts, and chinos. My wife used to say if it isn’t blue or tan, you don’t own it. Obviously she had forgotten about my leisure suits and Nehru jackets and Pukka shell necklaces, but that was a loooong time ago and is best left unspoken. However, about this time, my wardrobe was not the only thing that changed. Somewhere along the line, it seems I was no longer capable of dressing myself, as least not without assistance. I was subjected to, how do I say this, casual comment, both verbal and non verbal, from the almost perfect woman. It was not uncommon to have her look at me before we went out and say “you’re wearing that”? Well, yeah. Why? Or another favorite was “if you’re planning to change before we go, you had better get started”. Actually, I was planning to go like this. That is when I would either get a “hummp” or an eye roll or just a look that said “well then don’t talk to me so people won’t think I know you.
I remember one such occasion shortly after we had returned to Maine. We were scheduled to meet with the manager of the bank to establish an account and request use of their FAX service. I had on Levi’s and a blue tee shirt. Before we left, Diane said “you’re not going like that are you”? I said “well yeah, why”? She said “we’re going to the bank. You could at least wear a shirt with a collar”. So I went back upstairs and put on what else but a pair of chinos and a polo shirt. Now, I might just say that although our bank was a major one in New England, we were going to the local branch, in a town of about 6000 back then. We were in a town where a white collar job was the priest at St Gregory’s.
We arrived at the bank which is in a strip mall where the major business’s are a hardware store, a pizza place, a Dollar store, and a grocery store. When we entered, we were told the manager was with another customer and we were asked to have a seat in the lobby outside his office. So we sat down facing the tellers and waited. Before long a guy walked in and stood in one of the tellers lines. He was dressed in bib overalls that he had obviously just bought at the Dollar store, because they were too long so he had rolled the cuffs up. But the coup de gras was the Dollar store tag was still stapled to one of the rear pockets and the size strip was still on the leg.
It was just too good to be true and certainly not an opportunity that I could let pass. I glanced over at my wife and noticed she was either oblivious of the gentleman or was trying very hard to be. So I nudged her with my elbow and when I had her attention, I pointed to the man. That is when I got “the look”. It said, without uttering a word something like, “if you so much as say one word, you are sleeping in the garage for a very long time”.
Being the reasonable sort of person I am, I chose to remain silent. But as a seasoned husband, whether I won or not was irrelevant. That moment went into my album entitled “Arguments You Have Won” to be savored from time to time. I might add that it is a very small album.