Monday, April 2, 2012

The Gray-Green Faded Shirt: For Anne

My father is a practical, if not logical, man. He saves and he saves. When asked for what he does not know. Money, clothes, shoes, etc. all get saved. If it can be used, then it stays.

St. Patrick’s Day comes along once a year. My father, who is not a proponent of the color green, still has an aversion to ignoring traditions. Plus, who wants to get pinched. Every year, he digs down deep in his drawer of t-shirts, which is not very far. There he finds a once-green shirt. It is the color of an old green grape. Still green, but sick green and faded. A sort of gray-green-ness. He spends the day wearing this shirt and convincing others that it is green, which I have to admit it once was.

This year, his wife (who is logical, but not always practical), bought a bright green t-shirt for my dad. It has a beer mug on it, so pretty acceptable in the realms of both St. Patrick’s Day and my father. The problem presents itself, however, that my father will not accept this shirt. He will say, “Why did you spend money on that? I don’t need a new shirt. I have an old green shirt I’ve been wearing forever.” And so she cannot present the shirt to him.

So begins a roundabout exchange that only my father would accept. His wife must place the shirt where my father will find it, as though it has been in his drawer all along. He will see it many times, wonder where it came from, but he won’t ask. He will assume he cannot remember buying it. Slowly, the shirt will become part of the t-shirt drawer. If it is not there when he opens the drawer, then he wonders where it is. It becomes part of the stuff he would never give away. It has not outlived its usefulness. It can be recycled a million times.

On St. Patrick’s Day, his wife will suggest he wear the nice green t-shirt. It is on top of the pile, so why not?

The gray-green mess will fade to the bottom of the drawer. Eventually it will go in the rag pile (his wife will sneakily clean out the t-shirt drawer, ridding it of all illogical clothing). Dad will ask about the shirt. He will believe he has misplaced it. He will notice it while cleaning up a spill one day. In his head, a story will appear about the shirt having an ugly stain or a tear. This will satisfy my father. The shirt will remain practical to keep.

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