A hole in my shoe and other comfortable clothes


I had a doctor’s appointment the other day, so I broke out some new underwear. At the risk of getting a bit too personal with you, yes, I always manage to have some new underwear ready to go when a doctor’s appointment is on the calendar. And I mention the underwear not because of anything specifically associated with that or the doctor’s visit… but instead because of what happened the next morning.

On that day, I put on dress shoes for work, and one of them had a small hole in the bottom.

It was raining, and to get to the entrance of the building where I work I have to leave a parking garage, cross the street, and then climb up a few stairs. So… that morning… I left the garage, crossed the street, arrived at the first step and… couldn’t avoid a puddle.

The water quickly found the hole in my shoe, soaked a portion of my sock, and swooshed between my toes. Oh yes… it was a joy-filled moment.

Later I was trying to pass along the events of my morning to my lovely wife, but she couldn’t get past the hole in my shoe. She wanted to know why I was wearing them and why I hadn’t thrown them out and… well… I think we can all agree she was asking all sorts of useless questions.

I had water in my shoe!

We were long past the point in the story where someone might ask why I was wearing them. I was wearing them. And my sock was wet.

I was just looking for sympathy because one of my socks was wet. And instead… as women tend to do… my lovely bride completely missed the point. She even thought that at the very least I should clean and organize my closet so I could find my good shoes.

(I mean seriously. Women. Clean my closet? That’s what she got out of my wet sock? If her socks were wet, I would sympathize. I wouldn’t ask about her other shoes. Wouldn’t try to make her feel foolish for wearing a shoe with a hole. Heck, I don’t make fun of the nylons with holes. Do I? No. And, of course, a wet sock wouldn’t happen to her since I’m willing to drop her off at the door.)

(Am I right guys?)

(Umm… ok… moving on…)

The thing is, I’m not often too concerned about my wardrobe. Going to visit a doctor and expecting to put on one of those drafty and barely modest thin pieces of fabric? Well… forgive me for wanting to have new underwear and not something where the elastic isn’t quite stretchy any more or… well… I’m probably just trying your patience if I tell you that I might have a pair or two with holes.

But the reality is that when it comes to everyday stuff, I’m not concerned about frayed edges on my jeans. I don’t care too much about the bleach stains on my most comfortable turtlenecks. (Heck, I can’t even explain how the turtleneck got the bleach stains. But the damn thing is warm and comfy and it’s been really cold lately.)

Work clothes? I hate wearing a tie, but I do. I’m not interviewing for a new position though. And I do darn good work. You can expect me to take pride in my appearance and be showered and well-groomed and cleaned and pressed, but back off a bit if I’m not the most modern in my apparel. And if there’s a really small hole in the bottom of my most comfortable dress shoes… well… tough.

Exactly who is watching me walk away? (Which is the only way you’d see the bottom of my shoes.)

I suppose you could make the argument I need to throw more things out… not just shoes. I would understand those that might say replacing some of the clothes with new stuff would be a good thing. You’d probably have a good case.

But see… well… I have dogs.

They wake me up in the middle of the night… and they want to go out… and… honestly… I just don’t feel like leaving good shoes in the mud room. So out near the garage I have some old sneakers, a pair of loafers and the boots I use when it snows.

And when it’s time to toss a pair of sneakers, I don’t. I move them into the mowing the lawn rotation. I move them into the garage.

They may not be good enough to wear on vacation or out to dinner… I can guarantee you they’re just fine for getting grass stains on them and walking around in a backyard that has been the recreational park for two St. Bernards.

I’m not sure where I’m taking this article. It was supposed to be about comfortable clothes and my secret stash of clean underwear.

I remember a few years ago I heard someone speaking about how easy it is to judge a book by its cover. And be completely wrong. The reality being, plenty of millionaires wear torn jeans… plenty of business leaders wear old dress shirts to meetings… and you and I aren’t the only ones that spilled hot chocolate all over our clothes on the way to work this morning. So don’t get too wrapped up in assuming that the guy across the table from you isn’t smart or successful or worthy of your respect simply because his shirt is missing a button.

And yet of course you have that dress for success idea… the spend your last dollar on polishing your shoes idea… the pride in yourself, pride in your efforts idea. That’s the idea with your clothes ironed and your hair brushed.

The trick is… and I am not against personal grooming folks… I think some times the formal nature of business attire is just a bit too stuffy. I think it is possible to be a good person and a hard worker while wearing an old pair of sneakers. I’m not saying it’s appropriate for making all first impressions… or that it shows the proper respect for many first impressions.

Let’s take a final tangent in one last direction…

My grandfather was one of those that always had a good hat. You could be sure that if a tie was involved in the clothes he was wearing, Pepe would have a fedora-like hat on his head. When he passed away, I went over to his house with my parents to help with moving some of the stuff. In a spare closet, on the top shelf, was a hat box. And inside, looking every bit of never worn, was a hat… a hat exactly like the one in the other room, with his long winter dress jacket. He had an extra one… a brand new extra one… just in case.

I’m going to go home tonight and see if I can get the rest of the hot chocolate off of my dress shirt. And tomorrow morning I’m going to iron my clothes for work. I might even throw away a pair of shoes.

But I won’t be opening every package of new underwear I have. And I won’t be tossing that comfortable turtleneck.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com