No one ever notices what a man is wearing. Until they do.

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‘The Dude makes a sartorial splash’

I’ve written before about how Dude Man has a purely functional attitude toward clothing. If it “fits” (and by this he means he can’t tell he’s wearing it, not that it actually fits) and if it “does the job” (keeps him cool or dry or warm or covers his manly nakedness) then whatever he’s got on is a great outfit.

Hat to protect head: check. Long sleeves to protect arms: check. More thought goes in to the gear around his neck than to the rest

(My story from a few years ago called “Clothes Don’t Make The Dude” is worth another look — if only for the miner’s-light-on-the-jitney anecdote alone.)

He doesn’t really care how he looks in clothes. Which, after dating a guy who organized his closet by color and sneaked glances of himself in every mirror or store window he passed, I found rather refreshing.

He does clean up nice, though. Here he is in a serviceable suit at a wedding

And, most of the time, his clothes are so, well, the same that I honestly can’t remember what he wore or when he wore it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I mind. I’m not much of a clothes horse myself. Left to my own devices I pretty much go from workout wear to big ole sleeper tees every single day.

Dude dressed for an Occasion: same as the wedding, pretty much. But with a bow tie

Once in while, though, we do have an Occasion. Last summer, of course, there were no “occasions” to dress for, so my few summery frocks languished in the closet looking sad and lonely.

But this year, things were looking up. We had a Big Party to go to on a Saturday night. His Dudeness had pulled out his Short-Sleeved Party Shirt, when he realized the night might be nippy.

Dude rocking his Short-Sleeved Party Shirt a couple of summers ago

He was all ready to pull on a sweater when I said, “Hey, why not wear that really cool jacket that was your Dad’s? You keep meaning to wear it and it looks like tonight’s the perfect night to break it out.”

Well, he got out the jacket and proceeded to put it on over the Short-Sleeved Party Shirt.

“Oh no,” I said. “That’s waaaay too much ‘party.’ With that jacket, you need a more subdued shirt; a shirt that’ll let the jacket take center stage.”

We settled on a subtle stripe that picked up some of the green in the rather (ahem) noteworthy jacket. And I must say: This was one successful outfit. I thought my ensemble was on the attention-getting side — but no. All eyes were on The Dude.

The eyes of The Press were on Dude Man too. Here we are in Dan’s Papers

There were appreciative murmurs as he passed through the crowd in search of pigs in blankets. Many admirers commented on the fabric, the cut, the skill of the tailoring and attention to detail (sumptuous lining, meticulous pattern matching at seams and pockets). I could have been wearing a flour sack.

I tell you, that jacket was a real ice breaker. It seemed like everybody wanted to know its story. “It was my Dad’s.” “A grateful patient gave it to him.” “Yes, the label says ‘Singapore.'” “It’s hung in the closet for years; this is the first time I’ve worn it!” And “thank you” — repeated many many times.

That jacket was such a success that he wore it to another party the very next week.

Admiring comments were coming his way from every direction. This time, though, he learned the pitfall of dressing with drama.

“Hey! I remember you! How could I forget that jacket?!?

Amagansett, New York. September 2021

 

 

Darn. I didn’t get last month’s issue of “Toilet Today”

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‘I was too busy cleaning bathrooms to renew my subscription’

The ink was barely dry on last week’s “Do we have any snacks?” I was dragging the vacuum out of the closet to start in on the latest post-guest cleaning job when Dude Man pops his head in and says, “Hey, you’ve gotta come out and see how I raked the driveway!”

Dude Man, blowing leaves off the driveway while wearing a wetsuit

So now you’re getting another post about husbands and their wacky ways.

Perhaps you are half of an enlightened couple where you equally divide household chores. Your husband does laundry. Or the dishes.  Maybe he cooks once in a while–or even all the time. Well, bully for you.

At my house, I’m more or less responsible for the inside of the house: laundry, cooking, cleaning. And The Dude is responsible for the outside: lawn stuff, driveway stuff, deck stuff. Which is okay, really. Because I’m better at the indoor chores than he is, and vice versa. (Read “Random Acts of Kidness” for Dude Man’s hilarious bed-making method.) What gets my wifely goat is the fact that his chores need praising. 

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Party of Two

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‘Another anniversary celebrated in singular style’

Dude Man and I didn’t have a reception when we were married. We didn’t even have a wedding. Not really. We pledged our troth in front of a Unitarian minister in the United Nations nondenominational chapel with our parents as witnesses.

With one of our wedding guests — my mom

But, barely-boned wedding be darned, we are indeed married, and have been for 36 years. Thirty-seven years tomorrow. You can read all about this long-ago non-event — and our Carvel wedding cake — in “Winning the Dude-A-Thon.

Carvel wedding cake — and hot dog stand wedding photo

Back then we decided it would be smart — and financially prudent — to blow our teensy wedding budget on the honeymoon and have a party for our friends when we returned.

Another reason for no wedding: I’d had one before. Satisfy your curiosity with “My Polio-Shot Marriage”

Well, that didn’t happen. (The party, not the honeymoon. The honeymoon was fab. We spent part of it in a palace in Morocco owned by Malcolm Forbes. Yes, you can read about that in “Malcolm and the Duchess.”) And then we thought we’d have a first-year anniversary party. Don’t worry; you didn’t get invited because that didn’t happen either. Neither did the fifth-anniversary party. Or the tenth. Twenty-fifth? Uh-uh.

Anniversary party to which you did not get invited? Nah. Here we’re partying like it was 1999. Because it was — a Millennium-Turning “Do”

Nope. No parties. If two’s company and three’s a crowd, I guess you’d say we’ve had company for our anniversary every single year.

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She had a hat

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‘Wearing headgear well runs in the family. Too bad I didn’t get that gene.’

As you, dear Reader, know only too well, we’ve been slowly and-oh-so-surely settling in to the new Ken and Barbie House. All the Big Stuff has found a new home, and we’re on to clearing out the Little Stuff. (I am having nightly horrors about the Junk Drawer.)

We Henrys have been holding regular Family Facetime Calls with our dear Mother every Sunday, and on one of these, not too long ago, I happened to be in the middle of clearing out the coat closet. (How many mismatched gloves can one person have?!?)

My Oldest Younger Brother looks over my Facetimed shoulder and says, “Hey! There’s the Hat!” And goldarnit. There it was.

The Hat. Basically, the only one I wear. And not for “fashion”

It was easy to spot because not only is it large and furry and rather assertive and unmissable on a closet shelf, it’s pretty much the only hat I wear — being as how I only wear hats for function, not fashion.

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“Can’t we just pretend we’re dating?”

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‘There is such a thing as being too comfortable’

I was glancing through my notes looking for something fun to write about this week—yes, I keep a list of things that might go into a blog post, a practice The Child finds, for some inexplicable reason, hilarious—when I came upon this fragment: “The lady who’d take her teeth out to scare us.”

Now who would want to scare a cute little girl like this one?

See, when we were very little–little enough that a woman pushing her false teeth halfway out of her mouth would scare the bejesus out of us—we were allowed, nay encouraged, to run around our neighborhood. We respected no boundaries, rampaging across front and back yards with impunity. Apparently, this one Neighbor Lady didn’t cotton to us free-ranging around her magnolia trees (we would use the buds as ammo in our “wars”) so she used her partial plate as ammo against us.

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“I’m the Sheik of Araby”

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‘Everybody sing: “with no pants on”

So my Mom and I were on the phone the other day and I happened to mention that while The Child and her BF were playing some card game she (The Child) kept singing “Do your ears hang low” with (intentionally, I gather) the wrong lyrics. As in “Do your ears hang low…do they dangle on the floor” and so on and so forth.

But, instead of driving him quaran-crazy, she just got that song stuck in her head.

So then Mom and I started talking about those songs she’d sing when we were little and how they would get stuck in our heads: “Ay yai yai yai…O, My Sombrero” was one, and so was “On Top of Spaghetti.” (Ask your mom; she’ll probably know these too. Just don’t ask her to sing them — they’ll get stuck in your head.)

Then Mom happened to mention “The Sheik of Araby, ” which is the one where you insert “with no pants on” after every line, comme ca: “I’m the Sheik of Araby (with no pants on)…at night when you’re asleep (with no pants on)…into your tent I’ll creep (with no pants on)”

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Love in the Time of Corona

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‘Stir Crazy After All These Years’

Yes, that’s a picture of Dude Man and me with underpants on our heads. It was taken during a somewhat-normal-for-Whitmores Christmas celebration way back when. I’m not sure we were even married at that point.

This one was for sure taken before we got married. Bonus points to me for going through with it in spite of that stache

Speaking of “married”, today is our wedding anniversary. Yup, 36 years ago today we said our vows in front of a grand total of four people (five if you count the Unitarian minister). Seems we were way ahead of our time, crowd-size-wise. Though we broke the social-distancing rules, big time.

Me, dewily-newily married, with half our wedding guests. Touching was okay back then — even encouraged

We may have had a teensy wedding (see my story “Winning the Dude-A-Thon” for teensy details about the Big Day), but it seemed to have “taken”, since we’re still together and still (mostly) having a grand old time.

Hanging around Malcolm’s house on our honeymoon

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Paradise Lost

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’It’s true: you can’t go home again’

The Amazon Basin is truly a magical place. Though I wish its magic extended to beaming us home with a wave of a palm-frond wand. The name of the tour we are on (or just ended, depending on how you want to look at it) is “Paradise Revisited”. Our guide told us it had something to do with how they used to visit this part of the Amazon in the Good Old Days, then stopped when air service got spotty. Or maybe it was because once you see the Amazon, you just have to go back. Or something else travel-romantic like that.

The Rio Marie. Sigh. Tempting to go back, for sure

But I’m betting on the spotty air service theory, since that’s what we encountered at the beginning of our Adventure. We went to the airport three times (two of which were failures) in order to fly from Manaus to this remote spot on the Rio Negro called Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira. We were there so much that we teased our guide by suggesting the tour be renamed “Airport Revisited”. Turned out that the airline (MAP) that was to fly us there got bought by some bigger outfit and all its planes in this neck of Brazil (not just ours) got rerouted to more profitable airspaces.

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The Gate Nazi at JFK

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’Forced Bag Check. Even worse, forced Caroling’

I didn’t take a picture of the Gate Nazi (I was way too intimidated to try), though in retrospect I probably should have. Instead I am showing you a picture of where we went so you can see that the bullying we experienced at the very start of our Amazonian Adventure was worth it.

The scene at the top of this post is of a river trip taken on the afternoon of the first day we arrived in Brazil — yes, less than 24 hours after stepping on a plane in New York, we were seated on a small boat on a small tributary of a medium tributary of a larger tributary of the mighty Amazon River. The miracles of air travel are definitely worth every agonizing moment along the way. Even the agonizing moment I’m about to tell you.

Another small-boat moment. Crossing the Amazon, where the White Water meets the Black. Called, natch, “The Meeting of the Waters”

We were nice and early at our gate, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to start. We had planned to carry our duffels and backpacks on board, in fear of losing our gear. (Clothes don’t matter on these trips; it’s all about the gear. I found this out the hard way on our first trip, to Kenya. I came down to dinner in a cute little sundress, much to the amusement of our birding cohort.)

The Dude and our current birding cohort confer with our guide

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The Dude thought “Leave it to Beaver” was a porn movie

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‘What happens if you grow up with no television’

Well, I suppose “no” television is somewhat of an exaggeration. I believe The Dude and his sibs (he is the fourth out of six) were allowed a soupcon of TV. Like, if there was some educational show on about, say, snakes. (Yes, that family had a reptilian bent. Read about it if you dare, in “The Year of the Snake.”)

The Dude (back left) and the rest of his clan in their living room. No TV, but they did have that De Kooning there behind Bill’s head

We Henrys considered Sea Hunt or The Wonderful World of Disney educational shows. After all, you got some geography, right? And then there was The Three Stooges. Highly educational. Curly, Moe and Larry taught my brothers all kinds of fun tricks. Nyuck nyuck nyuck. Interesting that The Dude’s parents thought TV was harmful, but thought nothing of throwing their multiple children into a car without seat belts. Ooops. That’s not fair; my parents did that too.

Me (and my Mom) in the Henry living room. Our TV (uncharacteristically dark) serves as a festive backdrop for a flurry of Christmas-gift unwrapping

We spent many a happy hour stretched out on the carpet in front of a room-dominating television set, bowls of ice cream balanced on our tummies or a washtub of Younger-Brother-Doug-popped corn placed strategically so all hands could reach it. Along with the corn and the ‘scream, we lapped up Bonanza and Hullaballoo and Batman. I Spy and Mission Impossible. Get Smart was a fave, with jokes that often zoomed right over our heads. (See: “Agent 86”)

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