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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Clothes Make the Maniac

Last night, I cleaned out my closet, looking to get rid of old clothes. I thought I could take a wardrobe inventory, make room for new togs, maybe donate some clothes to the needier and nakeder than myself. A little closet cleanout seemed like just the ticket.

Yeah. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Now there’s four hours of my life I’ll never have back, and at least three nightmare revelations made during this cockamamie clothing chore. Here are the ones I haven’t repressed yet:

1. I used to wear some really, really stupid clothes.

I don’t take a lot of pictures. And I have a memory like a sieve made from Swiss cheese and flimsy alibis. So I’m not often reminded of the godawful ugly horrors of wardrobes past. Until, of course, I go digging in the back of the closet and find them.

” I’m pretty sure that growing a midlife spare tire doesn’t count as ‘natural male enhancement”

And find them I did. Big lapels, overly-wide belts, skinny ties, too-short shorts — at the bottom of every pile was waiting one of those cringeworthy, ‘Holy jeebus, I actually wore that?‘ moments.

I thankfully didn’t have a puffy pirate shirt in the back of the closet. But I had just about everything else. And it all went into one huge embarrassing stack of crap in the middle of the floor. We’ll get back to that, right after:

2. There’s more of me than there used to be.

And not in any of the places that might be useful, either. I’m pretty sure that growing a midlife spare tire doesn’t count as ‘natural male enhancement’. Not the way you might be thinking, at least. Perv.

Of course, that meant that of the ‘normal’ garments I had left over after the Great Crappy Clothes Cull of ’09 above, many of them are now entirely useless to me. Unless I need a new long-sleeved hanky, or a dishcloth made from old rugbies. Maybe the dog can wear my old Levis; I sure as hell can’t get into them any more.

Still, I told myself, we just squeezed through the holiday season. I’ve been stuffed full of food in six different states over the past two weeks, like some sort of bus-trekking Butterball. So if there are clothes that don’t quite fit in early January, they could conceivably shimmy on by, say, spring. Assuming I don’t have any Easter eggs or marshmallow bunnies.

Or summer. Provided we’re not invited to any cookouts.

Fall, perhaps. Just so long as a law is passed by then outlawing all forms of Halloween candy.

Would you believe winter? I can envision a three-day period in mid-November when I could totally squish myself into some of those clothes before Thanksgiving turkey time rolls around. Yeah. Let’s go with that.

So that left me with a conundrum. For each of my GOUSes (that’s Garment Of Unguessable Size, of course), I had a procedure: try it on — or as close to ‘on’ as I could manage; take a mental note of how ridiculously badly it fits, how drafty I feel and how hard I’m breathing in that condition; then decide whether the thing is ‘wearable’, ‘near-wearable’, or ‘unfit-even-for-Carnivale’.

The worst part of answering that question was the criteria. I figured that if I could slip a shirt on or fully button and zip a pair of pants without holding my breath, spraining a muscle or involving a shoehorn in any way, then it was ‘wearable’. I think that happened twice.

‘Near-wearable’ meant that I could manage to get the shirt on, or zip the pants up, but there was a non-zero level of… um, displacement of bodily substance caused by the effort. Quite a few of the clothes fell into this category, though I was a bit cavalier with my definition of ‘displacement’. I hiked up one particular pair of pants with some difficulty, and had an option — I could either button them up, or I could continue to see past my nipples. In my book, that qualifies as ‘displacement’.

(Not to mention quite drafty. For a short while, I could have cut glass directly over my head. I can see where that could come in handy some day.)

Then there were the clothes that simply laughed at me as I attempted to try them on. The khakis that made it halfway up my thighs. The polo that doubled briefly as an up-to-the-elbows straitjacket. And don’t get me started on the long johns. If I cut the crotch out of those things, I might have a pair of really warm knee-high socks. Otherwise, they’re a disaster.

More than half of my ‘fit or no fit’ clothes wound up as unwearable. And the ‘no-go’ pile grew ever larger. Which brings us to the final nightmare:

3. Staring at asses all night is just dandy — unless it’s your own.

Not that I was actually staring at my own ass, of course. I couldn’t do that with a rope and pulley system, some strategically placed mirrors and a month of yoga classes.

What I did do all night, though, was examine each and every one of those won’t-or-can’t-wear pieces of clothing to decide whether it was suitable for donation, or should be chucked out with the week’s newspapers and banana peels. And the ‘normal’ wear and tear I found on some of those garments was disturbing, to say the least.

Holey socks is one thing. I’m a tall guy, and I’ve been blessed with long and powerful toes. They can probably crack walnuts or do chinups or something. So to see that they’ve punched holes in a few pairs of flimsy cotton socks came as no shock. Those toes of mine — always up to something. And the abused socks went into the trash pile.

Likewise, the knees of a few pairs of jeans were worn through — no surprise there, either. With all the time I spend begging for forgiveness, crawling back to people and throwing myself on the mercy of various institutions, it’s a wonder I have knees left in any pants at all. So the kneed-through pairs of pants got tossed.

Then I checked the ones that were left. And noticed that some of the more ‘lived-in’ pairs were showing some other signs of fraying — at the pants cuffs, and around the pockets.

And yes, in the ass.

So I spent the better (hah!) part of an hour staring at the asses of my old and unwanted jeans, trying to determine how much butt wear was ‘too much’. Would you want a donated pair of pants that had gotten sort of soft and fuzzy back there? What if there were small holes worn out? Or large holes? How about gaping holes, covered over with ‘Hello, Kitty’ patches and a Cool Whip bowl lid? Seriously, where does one draw the line?

I couldn’t tell. So I trashed them all. And I was getting pretty tired and cranky by that point, so the shirts went, too.

By the end of the ordeal, I definitely had more room in the closet. Hell, I had three shirts and a pair of sweatpants left — I ought to have room in the damned closet. And there was nothing to donate to charity — nothing with intact toes, crotch, knees and ass that wasn’t polka-dotted, leopard-printed or ‘fixed’ with whipped topping packaging, anyway. Even the homeless people don’t want that hanging over their heads. Or clinging to their asscheeks.

Now I guess I have to find a whole new wardrobe. Preferably one comprised of steel-toed sweat socks and assrub-resistant denim jeans. Also, I’ll have to be a bit careful about sizing, or navigation will be a challenge. I’m pretty sure ‘muffin top blindness’ is not a valid defense for a reckless driving charge, for instance.

At least it’s an excuse for a clothes shopping spree, I suppose. And it’d be nice to have some new stuff to wear. I hear they’re doing wonders with puffy pirate shirts these days.

Permalink  |  4 Comments

4 Responses to “Clothes Make the Maniac”

  1. kerry says:

    hubby and i keep talking about doing the same thing, but we’ve yet to brave the basement to go through the mountains of clothes we have down there. i’m actually kind of afraid of what we might find.

  2. Charlie says:

    Don’t do it, Kerry! There be demons — wearing polyester slacks and that old paisley number that you once thought was ‘kitschy’.

    Take my advice. Just better to burn it all, sight unseen. Everybody’s happier that way — and you can roast marshmallows over your old stash of bellbottoms. Bonus!

  3. JW says:

    I bought my husband 1 dozen pair of jeans/slacks, and about 30 shirts over the last six months.

    They will not be detagged, washed, dried, hung, or folded and put away until he goes throught the old crap first, gets rid of, and makes room for the new (old) stuff.

    I figure by the time he does this, it will be time to buy all new stuff, because the new stuff with be old stuff and won’t fit anymore.


  4. Charlie says:

    Ah, that’s okay, JW.

    All you need to do is buy him two or three of any clothes he has. Then when he’s not looking, you can swap a new one in and toss the old one.

    Simple, no?

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