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~Author Jennifer Leigh~

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The Clothes Issue 1-05

You know how they say clothes make the man? What do lame clothes make? I hate to say. I only dated my husband for a few weeks before we married, and that is a whole other story. But I do want to talk about the clothes issue that came up, almost from our first date. What I mean to say is his clothes issue….

I knew of my husband’s ‘taste’ in clothes (and I use the word taste as loose as you can imagine and then some) when I went on a short trip with him to see his dying grandfather. I brought the few essentials I would need for an overnight trip. One set of jeans, a sweater, clean underwear, toothbrush, toothpaste, and not much else. I’d sleep in the sweats I traveled in.

Well, my husband brought an entire suitcase, complete with several button-up shirts (that I guess he figured were ‘casual’ but my term would have been ‘70’s. And this was before 70’s was chic. It was still geek.) He brought t-shirts, and I won’t even go into those, but let’s just say only in the 80’s did anyone think shocking violet with green turned up cuffs was cute, and then, even then, I have my doubts. (I found out later this little gem was from an old girlfriend, so when I became in charge of the wardrobe and laundry, oops, that one got chewed up. That darn washer and dryer! They’re just murder on the nicest clothes! I will hold onto that explantion forever. Take that, ex-girlfriend with stupid taste!)

But what really got to me was my husband’s idea of casual clothes. Oh, he brought sweats, which looked like he’d worn them in sixth grade, not just because they were worn out, but they were so tight I could see panty lines, and he didn’t wear panties, he wore boxers! I’ll tell you now, my husband was 42 at the time, so sixth grade was a long, long, long time ago. So he puts on the sweats, but he has no sneakers. He didn’t forget them. He doesn’t own any. (I found out later why. He is the pickiest man on the planet about shoes. He puts Imelda Marcos to shame. She was a spendthrift. My husband is a choice thrift. He rarely can choose, and even when he does, I will hear for the life of the shoe how much they hurt his feet. I’ve often wanted to snap, "Try high heels or shut up!") So he put on the sweats, and dress shoes. Yes, you read that right. Sweats and lace-up black dress shoes. When I tell you I almost fainted, I am not making that up. I was so shocked that even I, who talks all the time, was struck dumb.

Then I was faced with the quandary: Do I tell him that looks incredibly lame and hurt his feelings? Or do I go in public with this tight-sweat-clad, dress-shoe-wearing person? I think I finally said, "Maybe you should just wear the dress pants with those shoes?" (Heaven knows, he had plenty of button shirts to wear with them, even if the shirts also were a tad tight.)

When we married, I was a little youthful looking. I was thin, had few wrinkles (though I was 36) and dressed ‘hip’, or at least mostly hip. I had a teenage son who regularly gave me geek-o-meter tests and wouldn’t let me leave until I’d passed. Or failed, I guess that would be. Needless to say, I was no geek.

My husband, by this time, had gotten new, very cute glasses to replace the taped numbers he had when we met. And he’d grown a beard, which made him look jolly and sexy, as opposed to Mario on Super Mario Brothers, with a big black moustache and weak chin.

Once settled into married life, I took it upon myself to de-geekify my husband. I went through boxes, closets, and dressers and threw everything I thought was lame in a pile. I made a mountain out of a molehill before I was through. The pile was HUGE. I told my husband to go through the pile to make sure I wasn’t giving anything away that he really loved. Well, all the button shirts went back into the ‘keep’ pile, along with that great violet and green t-shirt. Sighing, I put them all away (but did have plans for that t-shirt, as I’ve told you.)

By this time I’d gotten pregnant and had succeeded in finding some really cute maternity clothes. One day my husband gazed into my eyes and said, "We look good together, don’t you think? I mean, we look like we belong together, you know?"

I stayed quiet.

Frowning, he asked, "What?" (He knew I rarely had nothing to say.)

I said, "Well, sometimes we look like we match. But when I dress young and you dress in some of your clothes you look like my dad! (I will say right here and now, but will not explain, that my father used to be Bozo the Clown, so saying that my husband looked like my dad was a very loaded statement!)

My husband sputtered for a while, then hollered, "Well, get rid of the stuff that makes me look old!" (I guess he figured I didn’t mean he looked like a clown. I let it pass.)

I packed up all that I thought wouldn’t pass through my son’s geek-o-meter that very day and hauled it off to charity. Except for the t-shirt, which I buried. May it rest in peace.

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