I have a favorite pair of sweatpants that I’ve owned since the Precambrian period. They’re a tired shade of gray, with barely a suggestion of the navy lettering that once graced its cottony surface. American Eagle, I think.
Of course, they’re shamefully dilapidated, torn and tattered beyond all repair. My mother-in-law, master seamstress and sock darner extraordinaire, dug deeply into her repertoire of needle-and-thread-ish miracles time and again to patch them up and make them whole—or at least to make them presentable. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes not. Mostly she just shook her head; dismayed by my stubbornness—and astonished by my inability to recognize when something had long since passed its prime. Then again, I have trouble in the produce aisle.
I admit; most would be embarrassed to be seen with me, clad in such disgraceful toggery, kneecaps naked to the world. What am I saying? My DOG is embarrassed to be seen with me. But the silly things have charm and character and that beloved quality of familiarity. Slipping into said fleeciness in the middle of January or even during a cool summer’s eve feels cozy and oh-so-comfortable—like the warmth of a lover’s arms, the refuge of a mother’s embrace, the company of an old friend. And on those rare occasions, when I entertain the notion of trading them in for something shiny and new, I feel nothing less than the shame of betrayal. The ignominy of sin.
Simply put, I cannot bear the thought of parting with my cherished garb; although my rational left-brained self knows better. The wretched things need to be ditched. Out with the old. In with the new.
I suppose I’m no better or worse than anyone else who has ever been mired in denial, inextricably attached to all-that-is-worn-and-hackneyed. We all have issues of a similar sort. Some are just more debilitating than others. That being said, my husband refuses to chuck any of his shabby, old t-shirts, which are perhaps some of the most pathetic examples of apparel on the face of the earth (second only to my sweatpants). Indeed, he lovingly deems those prized entities as something far from archaic. “They’re seasoned,” he defends. “Broken-in like a good leather ball glove.” He won’t dispose of his blasted water shoes either, which now sport portholes through which his toes protrude freely. Gak! Oddly enough, the man owns another pair. Brand spanking new ones with nary a defect. He bought them because he knew it was time for a change, only he couldn’t follow through. Apparently, it’s against his religion.
Needless to say, dysfunction doesn’t fall far from our family tree. Eccentricity flourishes under this roof and there is barely a day without someone hoarding something that ought not to. Ratty toothbrushes, Band-Aid boxes (Hello Kitty, of course), rocks of all shapes and sizes, bits and scraps of discarded paper, foolish tripe found on the bus or at school. And the list goes on. But the most bizarre item yet has been a brown paper snack bag for which a certain seven-year-old developed a crippling affinity. The bag itself was quite ordinary with regard to its form and function, however when its tour of duty surpassed the bounds of reasonableness (a month, maybe?), that’s when I hit the “Now this is just about ENOUGH!” button. “I can’t keep patching up these stinking holes with tape! It’s ridiculous! The bag is a train wreck!” (Read: I have taped tape on top of tape, and if I have to tape anymore, I’m going to screeeeeam! This is not a freakingtriage center for paper goods!)
Of course, we have a bazillion perfectly wonderful bags (WITHOUT CAVERNOUS HOLES) that have been at my daughter’s disposal since September. Bags begging to be toted to school…eager to be personalized with her scratches and scribbles…hankering for the opportunity (tedious though it might be) to house the EXACT SAME SNACK each and every day from now till eternity!
“But I like my bag. And my teacher likes my bag. She thinks the doggies I drew on it are pretty. I’m keeping it for-ever and EVER! And the little holes are cool because they let me peek inside to see what I have for my snack.” Are you forgetting, my dear child, that you ask for the SAME thing every day?! Apparently so. That being said, we couldn’t use duct tape for the massive and multiple repairs (tempting though it might have been), because that would negate the whole peeking-at-the-stupid-snack dealie. Arrrrg!
The kid will probably grow up to be a sock darner. It’s also likely I’ll be buried in my sweatpants.
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Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel
2 responses to “Creatures of Habit”
Get it completely. Of course, I also, at least my daughter believes it anyway, belong to HA (Hoarders Anonymous). It has to be anonymous, for which of us really wants to admit to the practice-lest we end up on the small screen for all the world to condemn.
But, the doggies ARE cute! and spotty.
I have this coat. from 15 years ago. It’s fleecey, and maroon, with an indian (Native American, MOM!!) I flat-out refuse to get rid of it. It still fits, it’s clean & paid for, and I LIKE IT. I think that’s all that matters.