By lex, on June 15th, 2008
Your correspondent has spent the last four weeks “off” in between careers, which time he has spent placing polishing touches on the World’s Longest Master’s Thesis – the higher I climb, the taller the hill – fixing the domestic irrigation system, flaunting the manifest will of Nature’s God by trying to grow grass in the coastal desert, hitting the gym from time to time in a vain effort to slow down the hands of time – they will not be stopped, far less turned back – flying the occasional airplane, penning the random bit of desultory (albeit deathless, no doubt) bloggery and generally being incautiously underfoot of the high, stern ladies of the demesne.
And today I cleaned out the closets. A very beast of burden, like. It was that awful.
For it’s shopping, we’ve been. For “working casual” type clothes, these apparently being the favored slops of the professionally employed out of military doors. Khakis I have in abundance, flight suits too, any number of white uniforms equally suited to pitching woo or ice cream, a lovely trio of double breasted navy blue (that means black) uniforms with four stripes on the sleeve and sextet of brass buttons, a trio of suits for to interview with, but when it came to the article of working casual, beg pardon, I had none.
You are spared, for now, the tale of your correspondent’s many miscarriages shopping for appropriate gear. His utter inability to choose between one shirt, or tie, and the other. His mad, and ultimately irresistable impulse to buy the seersucker suit (on sale!) at the Marine Corps Exchange. Just for the alliteration that’s in it. Not to mention Matlock. In time it was done, our resources squandered, ourselves returned triumphant to lodgings.
Suffice it to say that before any of the newer weeds could take their place in storage, other things would have to go. The old uniforms seemed the likeliest candidates.
Flight suits got stuffed away first, then “certified Navy twill” khakis – little more than double knits, and a richly potential source of “screaming alphas” in any moderately expansive shipboard fire. Multiple sets of wash khakis, a bit more thoughtfully – might not these make a lovely pair of pants to go a-boating in, with topsiders? But no.
Not more than one or two pair.
Kept a set of summer whites for son number one’s graduation and commissioning next summer. Do you good to make sure you can still fit in one year down track, I thought. Service Dress Blues as well, after all, they’re striped already and you never know. Some sort of national emergency. Mess dress of course, in white and blue. Lacking a tux of our own.
At the end of the day, not nearly so many uniforms ended up in the “give away to the Salvation Army” bin as remained in the “stuff them somewhere elsewhere” category.
It’s hard to let go.
That left us to economize with old things. Shirts that had memories attached of this place, or that event. But which we’d never really wear again, time and tastes having both moved on. A raft of neckties I had no memory of ever wearing. 80′s thin, and 90′s scarcely thicker. These went into a pile more with rather more revulsion than regret.
You may be surprised to learn that empty clothes hangars will quietly breed in the dark spaces of your closet. Forming, in aggregation, fully a rack of their own. Brooding in the silence. Passively resisting your attempts to bring them forth. Linking arms, like.
Tomorrow’s the first day of the new thing, the last day of the old. I was about to shove a dress shirt into exile before noting that the sleeves still carried cuff links with the naval officer’s crest. A shield and crossed anchors – fouled – with an eagle perched atop. Declining to let them go, I removed them carefully and set them aside, for the next time. Thinking even as I did that the last time I had worn them, it was with a touch of regret.
So commonplace, I remember thinking then. Any naval officer could wear them.