Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Old Sweat Shirts and Torn Blue Jeans
by James Glaser
October 8, 2010
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I was already to go out to lunch with Wanda as she stood there looking at me with one of those "looks" on her face that said, "There is something wrong." Of course, my being a guy, I had not a clue of what was wrong. Yes, I was wearing an old sweat shirt with frayed collar and cuffs, and my jeans did have a small rip in the thigh, but they were clean.

The problem was, we were going out in public, and I was no longer in Northern Minnesota where clean clothes go a long way toward public acceptability. Here in the cosmopolitan South, I guess you have to be a little more spiffy. Of course, here in Madison Florida, cosmopolitan and spiffy can mean new dark blue jeans, polished boots, a nice checkered shirt and a stark white or solid black cowboy hat.

Now, Wanda didn't want me to go that far, but I could tell I she wanted me to change into something I wouldn't want to work in. That's just the thing, in the North Woods of Minnesota, everybody worked... in work clothes. Office workers were few and far between, and even some of those people did their farm chores before their day job started.

Here in the South, there are a lot of guys, who look like politicians. We all know politicians never wear work clothes, because they don't work. They style, and I don't like to style. Wanda isn't asking me to style, just to look kind of presentable. After over 30 years of looking comfortable, presentable is hard. Ok, maybe not hard, but inconvenient.

I love working out in the garden or the yard, or in my shop. All of those places can get you either dirty or dusty, but when lunch time comes around, I want to eat, not change clothes. I understand though—Wanda is a looker, and if we go out to eat, she doesn't want it to look like she is buying some panhandler his lunch. So I try.

Women don't understand though. They never keep any of their clothes long enough to get to that soft smooth feeling stage. Their clothes are thrown out or donated long before that. Right now I am wearing a sweatshirt that I have had for at least seven or eight years. The neck is stretched out and frayed, and it is faded, but it feels so good. Kind of like an old friend.

Along these same lines, people, actually wives, want you to shave all the time, too. Sometimes I just forget. The first few days you look sort of like a bum, but after a while people think you are starting a beard. Of course if you are married, it is hard to last that long without shaving. You get that "look," and if you have good clothes on, it finally dawns on you that something else is wrong. You go in the bathroom to get a hair brush and then notice that stubble.

Women have it easy, at least Wanda does. She wakes up looking good. Me, I don't look in the mirror, sometimes for the whole day. I hair-style by feel. Most days, when I wake up, I start thinking of all the things I want to do and getting to those things is my goal. Getting dressed is just to keep myself warm and comfortable or decent. Hey, we live out in the country, and the people who are driving by should be looking at the road. I do know that the people who see me out in the yard can say to themselves, that guy sure does work, because that is what I do out there. Nobody can see me in the studio, and if they did, they could tell by all the saw dust that I was a woodworker.

So, I have been in the South for five years now. I have more shirts in the closet than I have had in my whole life. More pants, more shoes, and I know nobody will believe this, maybe ten ties. Its cool though. I do feel good when I dress up, and Wanda says we make a good looking couple, So if she is happy, I am too. Remember, as the saying goes, "Happy wife, happy life."

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