‘”But those are my favorite pants!” And other tales of sartorial splendor’
I made two Jitney drop-off trips yesterday. One in the morning so my Middle Younger Brother Roger and his wife Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn could spend a steamy day sightseeing in the City. The other was in the evening so that The Dude could spend a steamy week slaving in his office.
The Jitney, in case you’re not a New York City Area Reader, is a conveyance upon which many people travel back and forth to The Hamptons. You have to make a reservation to ride it, and they give you a thing of water and a teensy pack of nuts, but it’s basically a bus. They call it a ‘jitney’ because New Yorkers, well, are New Yorkers.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about the Jitney when the title (and hunky photo at the top) is about The Dude and his wardrobe. Well, hold your horses. I’m getting there.
See, The Dude has a very, let’s say, ‘practical’ attitude toward dressing. He will only wear something if it is ‘comfortable’. (I guess there’s nothing more comfortable than nothing, which is why that picture at the top shows him decidedly underdressed.)
But when The Dude does deign to wear clothes, they tend to be ‘whatever’s in the front of the closet’, ‘whatever’s on top in the dresser drawer’, and, especially out in Amagansett, ‘whatever’s (sort of) clean’.
He also, bless his heart, does not think about whether his shirt ‘goes with’ his tie or whether his socks ‘match’ his pants — or anything, for that matter. He showed up for a date way back when wearing a brown double-knit tie, green (high-water) cords, a pink short-sleeve dress shirt, and Corfam loafers in a rather unfortunate shade of orangey-brown.
He also wore gray socks. Only gray socks. Because, he told me, gray socks ‘go with everything’. I must admit, compared to the dapper French-speaking Belgian (they are called Walloons, in case you were wondering, and trust me, there is a story there) I had recently dated, who organized his sock drawer by color, I found The Dude’s attitude rather refreshing. Besides, a doctor’s coat hides a multitude of sartorial sins.
Anyway. I looked past the cover to the book. Or something like that. But after we did get married, in addition to mixing up his dresser drawers so the stuff on the bottom didn’t get fused and impacted into geological strata, I tried to, let’s say, prune his wardrobe a little.
I went through his clothes, separating the wheat (things that I liked, naturally) from the chaff (horrible colors, things with rips, tears and/or stains) to give to Good Will (as if they would want this stuff).
Then I asked him to check my sorting job. (Trust me, I was tempted not to ask and just toss, but honor — and fear of retribution –prevented me.)
Sigh of relief. He approved my choices (or should I say, my ‘rejects’). Except for this pair of orange bell-bottoms. (Yes, I said orange, and I don’t mean ‘burnt umber’.) In addition to being orange, they were size 28. He is a skinny one, my Dude, but the legs on those pants were about as wide as shirtsleeves. Except for the bell-bottom parts, of course.
So I ask, ‘Why do you want to keep those?‘ To which he replied, ‘Those are my favorite pants.’
Then I asked, quite reasonably I thought, ‘If those are your favorite pants, why have I never seen you wear them?’ (Oh, did I mention that the tags — including that sewn-on cardboard patch they put over the pocket — were still intact on those orange pants?)
The pants went to Good Will. I can only wonder who’s (not) wearing them now.
I could go on and on about The Dude and his lovable clothing quirks. But time is short, and this post is getting long.
So, back to the Jitney. Did I mention that riding the Jitney is a very popular method of City-to-Hamptons transportation? Because it is so popular, it can be incredibly annoying. Mainly because it’s packed. And packed with, um, New Yorkers. New Yorkers eating smelly food, listening to too-loud music through inadequate earphones, and talking in gratingly voluble voices (often on their phones, which is strictly forbidden, as if they care).
I once was seated next to a woman reading the latest Harry Potter to her son and doing all the voices. This was at, like, 11:30 at night. But this is not my story; back to The Dude.
One Friday night I was doing my usual pick-up-The-Dude-from-the-Jitney run in Amagansett and almost pretended I didn’t know him and drove right on by. Because there he was, attired for the ride in (from bottom to top): tube socks with velcro-strapped sandals, gym shorts, a favorite faded Escher tee, and, the piece de resistance, a miner’s lamp strapped to his head.
In spite of the fact that I almost didn’t claim him, he was smiling. I asked why, after a hours-late, stuck-in-traffic, super-horrible packed-to-the-gills Friday-night Jitney ride, he looked so happy.
‘The bus (notice he calls it a ‘bus’) was really crowded,’ he said. ‘But no one sat next to me.’
Amagansett, New York. August 2016