On being fashion unconscious on the road

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I was on a rural highway, working my way home, one job at a time.

I was a trucker hauling stories.

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I turned off the road into a small town convenience store for iced tea to quench my thirst.

I passed a decrepit building on the main street. Deserted buildings are too common these days. One in three of the nation’s counties have more deaths than births. The once imposing structure had been reduced to a canvas for spray paint. Someone, probably whippersnappers, had covered one wall of the suffering edifice in graffiti. There were a few anatomical drawings and a plethora of dirty words.

The bright side was that all the words were spelled correctly.

It was apparent that the little town had a good school.

I found a beverage to my liking and made my way to a checkout lane.

The cashier was a friendly young fellow who made the obligatory mention of weather.

I replied that I’ve always found the introduction of spring’s warm weather to be hot enough to bring sweat.

“I know,” he said. “I wish I weren’t wearing pants.”

The conversation ended uncomfortably.

I assumed that he meant “long pants.”

I’m not qualified to criticize the clothing choices of others.

A pheasant rooster flew across the road in front of my car as I continued my journey. I was thankful that we’d not collided. I admired his handsome dress. His plumage was perfectly designed by Mother Nature. He was a dandy exhibiting extreme elegance.

I’ll never be the best-dressed man in the Easter parade.

I’ve worn a winter coat inside out because my cousin was wearing the other side.

I’ll see myself in a mirror and wonder, “Why is that guy wearing that shirt?”

I’m wearing that shirt because it fits.

It doesn’t need to match what I’m wearing. Color coordination is a mysterious concept to me, like pi to 100 digits.

I, like many men, dress by smell. I don’t notice color, dirt, or wrinkles. If it smells OK, I’ll wear it.

A granddaughter, a seventh-grader, was issued pants for a school sports team. The seniors were given first choice, juniors second, and she was given last pick. Hers were big enough that she had to sit down twice to hit bottom.

I’ve worn clip-on bow ties. A neighbor kid had one that was attached to an elastic band. Bad idea. Other, bigger and older boys, grabbed the bow tie, pulled it away from his neck, and then released it. It snapped back with a vengeance, driving his Adam’s apple to places that it hadn’t wished to go.

My wife told me that her mother had once sewed her into her new Easter dress because she hadn’t had the time put on buttons. That’s never happened to me.

I’ve never owned more clothes than I could shake a stick at if I were the kind to shake a stick. Most clothes are OK with me. I’ve worn bell-bottomed trousers, Nehru jackets, leisure suits, and pants with more patches than pants, without shame.

I’ve avoided belt buckles the size of satellite TV dishes, but I’ve worn plastic pocket protectors, puka shells, highwater pants, hand-me-down shirts, soleless shoes and bad hats. Players on football teams I played on had melons so large their helmets had to be special ordered. They wore two helmets each until the cavernous caps, big enough to sublet, arrived.

I still mourn a favorite shoe that disappeared into a massive pile of cow manure, having fallen victim to suction and gravity.

A neighbor, scout’s honor, often wore shoes that didn’t match. He didn’t care, so no one else should have. The closest I’ve come to that is wearing a navy blue sock paired with a black sock. I have difficulty telling those two colors of socks apart and need the assistance of a strong, natural light to do so. This is called “sock blindness” and kept me from becoming a fighter pilot.

I don’t like socks that fall down. That’s why staplers and duct tape were invented.

A granddaughter asked, “Grandpa, you never wear black socks with sandals, do you?”

She looked worried.

The creases in my pants were once so sharp, I sliced ham with them. Not anymore. I should become more fashionable. I lean so far to the casual side that I tip over.

Maybe I’ll study up on it.

Maybe not. I won’t change.

Adlai Stevenson told of a prisoner who said to his cellmate, “I’m going to study and improve myself and when you’re still a common thief, I’ll be an embezzler.”


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.