I just realized it this morning. You see, I had to get up especially early because I was going to go have some bloodwork done.
"Aren't you going to shower?" my wife asked, as I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and put on my clothes from the day before.
"Do I stink?" I asked her.
"Then I'll shower when I get back," I told her, putting on a baseball cap. I didn't want to comb my hair either.
As I drove to the place where I was going to have my arm puntured and my blood siphoned out, I looked down at my feet and I saw something I swore I would never see: black dress socks with white ahtletic shoes.
When I was a much younger guy I remember seeing old coots walking around with shorts that were too big, skinny legs that were too white, and athletic shoes with black socks. And I swore--I swore--that I would never wear black socks with athletic shoes. I used to tell my wife, just shoot me and put out of my misery if I ever do that.*
And yet... here I was.
It's not just the socks. It's the whole thing. Not showering in the morning. Putting on yesterday's clothing. Not combing my hair. Well, at least I did brushed my teeth.**
I think what bothers me most is that I didn't care. I didn't care I'd be seen in public, and I didn't care I'd be interacting with other human beings. Human beings with eye sockets. Eye sockets that contain eyeballs. Eyeballs that can see. That can see me.
When I was young and single, that would never have happened. Sometimes I'd even shower twice a day. Once in the morning, and one more time before I went out. Sometimes even after I got back from my night on the town, if, well... you know.
When I was a teenager, after school I always used to take off my one good pair of jeans and wash them, just so that they could be clean for me to wear the next day.
"Why are you washing just one pair of jeans?" my mother would yell.
"One pair of jeans is all I have," I'd explain.
"Why don't you wash something else with them?"
"I don't need anything else."
"Can't you wear them two days in a row?"
Two days in a row? I was offended at the thought.
"I can't wear them two days in a row," I'd whine, my voice going up an octave or two.
"But you're wasting water!"
She'd throw up her hands in exasperation, and that's when I knew I had won our battle of wills. I guess when you get older you lose the energy to argue with your idiot son.
Nowadays, I don't mind wearing my jeans two days in a row. Or my shirts. The way I look at it is like this: If I haven't done any yardwork or stood next to anybody smoking, then my shirt should be realtively stink-free enough for me to squeeze another day's use out of.
"Do you mind if I wear this shirt again?" I'll ask my wife. "It doesn't smell."
"Go ahead," she'll tell me, which is neither a yes or a no. Personally, I think she gives me her rather ambivalent blessing because that means less laundry for her to do.
She's getting old, too.
*I don't tell her that any more, because, to paraphrase Sophocles, nobody loves life more than those who are getting older.
**Hmm... I take that back, now that I think about it I just rinsed my mouth with the blue Listerine.