As I was folding the laundry today, it dawned on me that my husband, who is approaching forty, and although he has a good sense of humor, – obviously, he’s married to me – has not one ounce of whimsy or silliness in his being, and is the straight man to my comic, owns, and wears regularly, underpants featuring Spongebob Squarepants.
My husband’s normal wardrobe, between work and church, and the occasional night out, consists of golf shirts and long-sleeve oxford shirts, and dress slacks. The rest of the time he is outfitted in one of about 12,000 assorted t-shirts advertising college and professional sports teams. He just isn’t a very avant garde dresser. But when I found the Spongebob drawers, I wondered what else do we keep in our closets that belie our everyday personas, and how much do they represent what we wish for our lives? My hub also owns a shirt with a picture of a cowboy with a dog, riding a horse. The caption reads: “You’ve brought home worse.” He wears it without any sense of irony, although I seethe a little when I see him in it. I’m pretty sure that people see that shirt he’s wearing, take a peek at his unkempt wife, and think to themselves, “Got that right, brother.” He also owns about five Hawaiian shirts, which he wears on vacations and outdoor parties in the summertime. They are all hideously ugly. I think he keeps these items around just to remind himself that he has the propensity to be wild and crazy. As if he was Clark Kent and his alter ego wasn’t Superman, but Carrot Top.
I’ve also got my share of things that don’t quite, well, fit. My current wardrobe consists of plain, boring shirts and shorts or pants I buy at Walmart or Target, which means that they are only made to last about 6 months, and I’ve had them all for about 4 years. In contrast, I own upwards of twenty pairs of gorgeous and insanely fancy 50’s and 60’s era jeweled clip-on earrings, and I wear one pair once a week to church for about a half hour and put them in my purse during church service, at which time I elbow my husband to look at how red and dented my earlobes are. Because clip-on earrings Pinch and Hurt and were obviously designed by torture specialists. But I wear a pair each week because although most of the time I am dressed like I will have my hands in a toilet all day, my inner fancy lady is screaming to get out.
When we were in our twenties, my husband and I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. Because Charlotte is NASCAR country, we found ourselves at one or two – okay, five – NASCAR races, despite the fact that we didn’t really care about NASCAR at all. As a side note, if you have never been to a race, it is worth the trip just to see the sheer size of a race track and the volume of folks inside the track. Lowe’s Motor Speedway seats what appears to be one million people, and you can bring your own beer into the track as long as you can fit it under your seat, which is completely awesome. One day we attended a pre-race festival where they had promotional booths and food tents, some race cars to look at and other random race-related vendors and information. We stopped at several tables to load up on free stuff like refrigerator magnets and coupons for groceries. One booth in particular was giving away t-shirts to any man who could do ten pull-ups and any woman who could do a one-minute flexed-arm hang. I know as well as anyone that this is one of the most inequitable contests between men and women, because ten pull-ups are almost impossible for anyone who is weaker than the World’s Strongest Man, while my 2-year-old nephew could do a flexed-arm hang all day long. I knew I was walking away with a free t-shirt. And I did. After high-fiving myself and my husband and the friends we came with and some assorted strangers at my fantastic display, we unfolded it, at which point everyone doubled over laughing. For my new t-shirt proclaimed: “PAIN IS WEAKNESS LEAVING THE BODY.” Now, it is no secret in my circle of friends and family, and really anyone who knows me for more than 30 seconds, that I am not very tough. I don’t like to do anything athletic, and I don’t like to exercise or sweat, and for the love of everything good in the world, I do not welcome any kind of pain, whether physical or emotional. The slogan on this t-shirt represents so much the opposite of who I am that 12 years later, I still have it. And I wear it regularly to remember when I was tough for one minute, because honestly, I wish I was just a little bit tough most of the time.