bucket hat

Clothes horse

November 1, 2021

    One of the signs of dementia is when you can’t dress yourself anymore. I’m getting close. After three years of being told “no,no,no,no,no,” when I appear from the bedroom dressed for a night out, I’ve thrown in the towel. (I should keep the towel, since it’s the one thing that’s insisted upon me when stepping out of the shower.)

   I don’t even know what’s in my closet anymore. Lately, when it’s time to get ready to go out, I just say, “What do I feel like wearing tonight?” And Voila! I’m dressed in a color-matched and tasteful style of attire I had no idea I’d actually owned.

When your inseam is a 29, a corresponding 42 waist doesn’t qualify as pants so much as a tarp. Maybe the maternity section at Macy’s?

   With Carolyn it was mostly my bucket hat. (“It makes you look like you’re about 76,” she once said to me. Well, I’m 72 now, so I’m aging back into it (though I don’t think it works that way). Otherwise, since Carolyn did most of her formal shopping at a thrift store, my strutting about like a figure from the 1980s didn’t bother her. But Carol shops retail, and that means now so do I. (I’m getting slightly better at checking for tags before leaving the house.)

old man clothes
“What’s wrong with this?”

   Anyway, saying I’ve “outgrown” many of my older clothes is a euphemistic way of putting it. I’m reaching a point where we’ll be shopping for slacks at a supply store that caters to rodeo clowns. When your inseam is a 29, a corresponding 42 waist doesn’t qualify as pants so much as a tarp. Maybe the maternity section at Macy’s?

   I’m not sure when my complete indifference to dress began, but by the time I was vagabonding in Europe back in the 1970s, it was in full swing. I worked on an Irish fishing boat for a while. When he gave me the job, the captain told me to wear dirty old clothes when working on the boat. I showed up for the first day wearing what I’d worn for the interview.

   If it is true that “clothes make the man,” then it’s left to consider the kind of man my clothes make me. Let’s set aside “His wife dresses him” as no help in this discussion. I prefer a variation on the definition of character here. If character is what you are when no one is watching, it follows that the man I am is what I’m wearing when no one is paying attention.

   Moving on, then, let’s say the laid back southern California lifestyle has been a blessing in disguise for me. There’s actually been times when I’ve been overdressed (though never by Carol’s standards). The night we tried out that new Italian eatery, there was a guy in shorts and flip flops with his family, and ordering up a plate of pasta like he was home on his couch. I watched wistfully, as I in turn splotched a daub of marinara on a nearly new dress shirt.

   I thought about it, but realized I rather risked a lecture on table manners before I could make a point about dressing down for dinner. Although it’s worth noting that a few more Italian nights out and I won’t need to be accessorizing with a belt anymore.

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