Much like the famous migrating swallows who every March return to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano from their winters in Argentina, I too migrate. I migrate to the Men’s departments of several large department stores, but not to build mud nests and lay eggs (I’m so over that phase of my life….) but to fortify my work wardrobe with a fresh arsenal of fresh ties, new snazzy shirts and black slacks that haven’t been snagged or frayed from use. Titillating read so far, heh? Stay with me now.
My career choice was retail management. I wasn’t smart enough for many white collar jobs. Accountant? Forget about it. Loan officer at a bank? Couldn’t do it. NASA rocket scientist? Not smart enough AND I look too cool to pull off the whole “nerdy slide rule” thing without raising eyebrows. I’m not mechanically inclined. Don’t get me wrong…I can DO outdoorsy stuff and work in the garage, but anything much more than that and I may as well make an appointment at the walk-in medical clinic for forty-five minutes after I began said project. “Hello? Nurse Marlene? Rich Ripley here. Connie wants me to hang a bird feeder on one of our oak trees. Can you clear an examination room from 10 to 11 o’clock this morning? Get the x-ray machine warmed up and make sure that you have plenty of gauze, iodine, two feet of thread and a couplea good stitching needles on hand. I’m feeling really good about getting this bird feeder thing done quickly.”
Anyway…my whole work clothes thing is nice. I wear good-looking clothes and nice shoes which don’t always look so good when I get home…but the customers and my coworkers seem to appreciate my efforts. Dress shirts…I have around 28. I can only wear one at a time. Ties…over 30. Same deal as the shirts. Actually…I have more ties than that. I can’t stand to part with them, I mean…we’ve been through so much. A good shirt/tie will last me two years. A great one, three to four years. Most of my ties are great. They’ve been worn through:
- countless trucks being unloaded in all kinds of weather (our dock is outside). Blizzard? Back up it…get it done. Thunderstorm? I ain’t made of sugar…I won’t melt.
- Miles and miles of walking around the store. MILES
- Consultations, hiring’s, schedule writings, orientations, meetings, trainings, buying shows, interacting with customers/employees and multiple crisis’…and all the time they’ve hung with me. I can’t just leave them behind. After a while…I just donate them.
Then there’s my Dad’s ties. They’re funky colors and dare I say….retro. I’m keeping those suckers! I even put one or two into the Ripley Fashion Rotation every month, they appreciate it and I enjoy having them around.
I ain’t no rooster
So I used to wear my umpire and basketball referee warm-ups to the gym when I worked out, meaning I was dressed pretty much in black from chest to toe. I didn’t like the idea of spending money for different colored clothes when I was just going to be sweating in them. That is until I saw another guy…dressed completely all in black working out like I was. Two words. Dork Alert! As if I don’t already fight the whole “Duke of Dorkdom” thing with my goofy grin, bald spot and shrill laugh (my mother says that it sounds “intoxicating”) so I certainty don’t need to “pile it on” by doing something so blatantly idiotic. Sooo…..I went out and bought some new work out shorts, socks and shirts. I had a dizzying array of fabulously brilliant colors to choose from, many of which would likely been seen from outer space. Blaze orange shorts? Why the hell not?! Hot lime green socks? Only if they make me run faster….which they most certainly will!! Nuclear yellow dry-fit work out shirt? Why not? The whole ensemble would make me look like a tie-dyed rooster strutting across the work out floor….minus the hens. For the record I stuck with red and blue shorts that are six inches too long. Apparently when we’re finally invaded by gangly legged aliens we’ll already have plenty of flamboyantly colored shorts to go around for them.
My secret…brace yourselves…
So my last stop on this clothes shopping craze was Men’s Warehouse. I was hoping to score a few more ties (my addiction) and dress shirts…but found a pair of jeans. Now let me say this…since turning 45 (give or take a few years) finding blue jeans that easily fit me and looked good has been a rare event. If they’re comfortable…they’re too big. If they look good on me…then they’re too tight to sit down in. (I’m vain…okay? Deal with it). My waist is somewhere in the nether region of thirty-five inches. Blue jeans skip the odd numbers and either punish you for growing old and fat and entice you to wear the lesser number or swim in the larger number and cinch your belt up two more notches. (First world problems. Am I right or am I right?) So I tried on a different brand of jeans and VIOLA!! A FREAKIN’ THIRTY-FOUR WAS TOO BIG!! I tried a thirty-three and it fit well, was comfortable and still had room in the front for me to gorge myself with food and still be comfortable in them. Their secret? (let’s be discreet now…I’m beggin’ ya. I’m not real proud of this….but) The fabric is 84% cotton, 16% (wait for it….) POLYESTER. Ugh. There. I said it….and they feel great. You can’t even tell without looking at the label (hidden in the inside crotch…thank goodness). Anywho…that’s who I am now. A middle-aged man wearing polyester blue-jeans. Deal with it. I’m so comfortable.
May God have mercy on my soul.
Thanks for coming along.