Sunday, May 10, 2009


I love this time of year—who doesn’t? Spring means blooming flowers, great weather, and outdoor fun. It also means a whole new wardrobe. Time to change out of those heavy sweatpants, warm hoodies, long-sleeved shirts, snuggle socks, and neck-hugging mufflers, and trade them for comfy shorts, cool Tees and airy flip-flops. And that means shopping, since last years’ shorts are too tight, the Tees are too stained, and the flip-flops have no tread left.

While I enjoy updating my closet, my husband Tom doesn’t see the point in buying new clothes. Ever. Even if his old pants won’t fasten any more, the T-shirts are dyed spaghetti sauce red, and the shoes have more duct tape than leather, then he’s fine. If I want to dress him up a bit for a special occasion, like going out in public, I have to buy the new clothes, rip the tags off, and sneak them into his drawers so he thinks they’ve been there forever.

The other day we had to attend a formal event. This required a suit. Tom doesn’t own a suit. Never has. And he prides himself on that fact. He’s an electrician, so his wardrobe consists of holey T-shirts covered with clever double entendres, such as “Check your shorts?” In spite of the fact that they’re embellished with coffee spills, burrito blobs and even blood stains, he insists they’re “perfectly good—and who’s going to notice?”

When this solemn occasion arose, obviously he had nothing to wear. Even his best work shirt—the one that reads: “Extreme Makeover” and is signed by Ty Pennington—would not do for this event. I gave him an ultimatum: Rent a suit or buy a suit. So off we went to the Men’s Warehouse, where my son met us. Unlike his dad, Matt just wanted a new suit to add to his closet full of suits. He was so impressed by his dad’s willingness to “dress up,” he offered to give the buy-one-get-one-free one to his dad.

After an hour or so of trying on suits—how long can it take? Don’t all suits basically look alike?—Tom picked the one that made him look just like his father. Once we were back home, he tried on the suit again. I caught him standing in front of the mirror, admiring his distinguished look.

“You like the suit, don’t you?” I said, grinning.

He shrugged, and didn’t put it on again until the event. As soon as the occasion was over, he carefully put the suit back in its plastic holder and tucked it at the back of his closet. The next night we were to go to dinner with friends. I suggested he might want to wear his new suit. Moments later he appeared at the doorway in his stained khaki pants (top button missing), his Charlie Sheen shirt (featuring chest peek-a-boos between the buttons), and the scuffed deck shoes he not only wears for formal occasions, but also for working around the yard, cleaning the garage, and climbing on the roof to clear the gutters.

I shook my head.

“What?” he said, looking down at his outfit. “These are perfectly good.”

What was I thinking? A new suit was not about to change my husband into a fashion model. Oh well. I’ll get a few new T-shirts and shorts for the summer, shove them in his drawers so he doesn’t know they’re new, and use the rest of the money on my own new wardrobe.



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