Like many of you I have grown weary of this virus craze. I am tired of advice on how to cheer up. There is no shortage of advice on how to survive. I am worried more about the economic impact on my business than I am about clean hands. I have no idea where this is all going and feel powerless to do anything significant to turn things around.
So, I have decided to talk about clothes.
Several months ago I lost one of my shirts. Which, I know is an odd thing to say. How does one lose a shirt? It hangs in the closet. You wear it. It goes through the wash and dry cycle. And it returns to the hanger.
I wish it was that simple.
It’s not like I loan out my clothes. I do loan out my tools from time to time, and some of them have never come home. But I draw the line at clothes.
The house has not been broken into by thieves. And if it had, I would question a thief who goes to that much trouble and then steals only one shirt. Imagine two guys looking around with flashlights.
“Hey Charlie. Look at all this great stuff. Jackpot!”
“Forget it Ernie. Grab that shirt, and let’s get outta here.”
Part of my dilemma is that I have been unwilling to admit that I lost my shirt, literally. I am getting older. I admit that. But it’s a little unsettling to admit that I have this particular shirt; that I’ve worn it off and on for months; that I know for a fact that I own it, but it’s nowhere to be found.
I have looked in all the typical places and some not so typical. It’s not on the floor in the back of the closet. It’s not at the bottom of some pile in the laundry room. It’s not hanging in the coat closet, or any other closet in the house. It’s not under the back seat of my truck. It’s not under the couch. It’s not in the pantry. And it’s not in the attic.
My shirt is simply gone.
I thought about asking my wife what she did with it. That seems to be the obvious course of action. I know that if I hid it, I would know where it is. But, unless my question is framed properly, I realize that my asking could be interpreted as blaming her for it being lost. Which could be the case, but it’s an area that I’d rather not get into right now.
There is also the risk that this situation could cause her unnecessary worry over my mental state. She already knows that I am forgetful. That if she sends me to the store, I almost always come home without something on the list.
“Your better write it down” she says.
“Naw, I’ve got it. It’s just five things. I can remember 5 things.”
I’m not sure why I keep telling her that. More importantly, I don’t know why she keeps letting me get away with it.
So, for months I hid my secret. Surely my shirt would eventually turn up. Max is not wearing my shirt. My son is not wearing it. I’ve entertained crazy ideas about where it might show up. I have seen other similar shirts on other men out in public and actually thought about stalking them and asking questions about how they got in my closet and took my shirt. Fortunately, it never came to that.
One of the reasons I’ve wanted this shirt back is this. It’s one of my newer shirts, and by newer I mean more recent than the Carter Administration. I am notorious for having and wearing old stuff. My wife begs me to go buy a new shirt and I resist because the old ones still suit me just fine.
Not so long ago, my wife and I were looking at old pictures when the kids were little, circa 1995. My hair still had color. The kids were cute. Beth commented.
“You still have that shirt. You wore it last week.”
“Yeah. So what?”
I’m not exactly into style. Clothes are functional to me, not trendy. I wear shirts and pants and sweatshirts to work that have stains on them and holes in the sleeves. If it works; if it covers up the important stuff; if it has most of the buttons, I wear it.
Here’s the thing. The lost shirt is actually only a few months old. This is what makes the loss hard to swallow. If I was going to lose a shirt, I wish it could have been the one from 1995 with holes in it. But fate doesn’t work that way. Call it karma or chance, or whatever. The fact that I really like this shirt and that it has no holes and that it’s new is the reason it’s gone. That’s the only explanation I can muster.
Not long ago, I needed to pack a few things for a business trip. I grabbed the suitcase in the corner of the bedroom and tossed it on the bed. I opened it up, and there it was. My shirt, along with a few other essentials of a personal nature that I didn’t know I was missing. I thought I was low on Hanes, but it didn’t register with me.
I called to Beth. “Come look at this.”
“Look at what?”
“There, in the suitcase.”
“It’s a shirt. So what?”
I told her my secret and how I was going nuts thinking my shirt had been beamed up by some alien space ship. The best I could determine is that my shirt had been left in the suitcase from our trip to the cabin almost five months earlier. What an idiot!
“Well good,” she says. “Now you can throw away one of your old ones.”
Unthinkable. I’m not letting her get near my shirts.