Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The mystery of the old man and his clothes

August 25, 2009

I watched my father, my father-in-law, and the older men on my street as a kid go about their lives as they aged. I noticed that they started to care less about their image to the outside world and more about their own comfort. By comfort, I mean they way they dressed, what they ate, and what they surrounded themselves with. At that time of my life, there was only one category of older man, the one who was 45 and up. Now that I am 44, I have split older men into two categories: older man still in the the work force, and older retired guy.

What I noticed as a kid was simply that old guys dressed funny. They wore black socks and plaid shorts while they cut their grass. They wore straw hats, even when it was not sunny outside. They wore socks with sandals. The hair on top of their head was not always washed and/or combed, and they were likely to have hair growing in weird places.

As for eating, they were very likely to eat the same thing 4-7 days a week. They frequented the same restaurants, and if they could have smoked and ate at the same time, they would've.

As for comfort, it was not unusual to see them wear the same clothes 4-7 days a week, they had a particular chair they liked to sit in, and their life had routines. These routines involved what time they slept, what time they ate, and what time they pooped.

As I became one of these older guys, I started to understand some of these idiosyncrasies. I understand that if you go to work all day in clothes that include dress pants, dark socks, and a tee shirt under your dress shirt, when you go out to cut the grass that night, you only change your pants and shoes. You grab a pair of shorts that are your "grass cutting shorts", you grab your "grass cutting shoes", and you head out to the lawn not caring that you have a pit-stained tee shirt on and dark socks. Why care what the neighbors think. It is a more practical way of thinking.

As for eating, you may have done some experimenting in your youth, but as you age you tend to stick to the foods that you enjoy, that don't upset your stomach, and that keep things moving-if you know what I mean. Surprises are likely to upset the delicate balance of life as we know it and life is too short for that.

Therefore, I feel like I have explained everything except one. Why was the retired guy from down the street going for a walk this morning in shorts that would have been snug on my 12 year old, and a very small tee shirt on that was tucked into said shorts? What happened to comfort? There is no way his "boys" had enough room in there for this walk to result in anything but the need for some talcum powder. I can understand that he did not care how he looked (or as CJ would have asked, "Doesn't he have mirrors at his house?"), but there is a very good chance that several functions us old men consider valuable will be compromised. Color me confused.

Until I leave the house in clothes that make CJ hide his head in shame...

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