Scott Free

Scott Peterson

I reached into my drawer and pulled out my new gold sweater, at least I thought I did.

It’s been chilly and I was going to wear it to work, but my wife happened to be nearby. She’s not exactly the fashion police, but she will give me one of those disapproving head shakes when I do something crazy like try to pair a green tie with a light blue shirt or an orange tie with a red shirt.

I don’t exactly ask for permission when it comes to what I wear, but I know if I get that look I could become the laughingstock of the office fashion world, which, if you know anything about newsroom decorum, is about the lowest bar there is.

So when she happened to mention that “new” is not something this sweater was at all, I waved her off and dismissed her comments like she was imagining things.

“It can’t be anymore than a couple of years old,” I scoffed.

And then she showed me the evidence. (Don’t you hate it when your spouse is not only right, but she has the proof, too!) There it was, a family photo of me wearing what indeed was a new sweater when the photo was taken, 10 years ago.

How could that be?

It’s a Christmas tradition that every year my wife buys me a new sweater. Over time, my dressers drawers have overflowed into the auxiliary dressers in the spare bedroom and in deep storage in the basement. With all the competition, it means sweaters just don’t get worn much, so they feel like new, right?

Well, it’s either that or it’s a senior moment for me. I am sticking to Option A.

Nancy’s late mother, who lived to be 94, explained that life is like a roll of toilet paper. It had nothing to do with the pandemic or a shortage of supply. She was saying that the closer you get to the end of the roll, the faster that it spins. Just like life, getting from age 6 to 7 takes an eternity. But getting from 61 to 63 feels like a long weekend.

So somehow this sweater with 10 years on its odometer felt like a year or two old. So what does it say about my older sweaters. Is it possible that my old herring-bone sweater, which I love and that makes my wife roll her eyes, was actually left over from the Reagan administration?

Do you remember in high school when social life and death hinged on what you wore. I can remember taking my sons shoe shopping when they were that age and it was hours of them arduously trying to find the shoes that were just cool enough and not the shoes that would file them in wrong clique, and in the social trash bin.

But another thing that happens when you get older: You don’t care.

I remember that my dad spent most of his adult life at home in a white crew-neck t-shirt, often with holes in it. And he never seemed to be bothered.

Maybe as we get older, when we can free ourselves from peer-group shame and the need to keep up with the Jones, life gets a little simpler. I am looking forward to the day when I can put on what will then be a 20-year-old sweater and my wife, either out of senility or futility, gives me that look like, “Where have you been all my life?” because I have the sexiest sweater at the old folks home. “Nothing at all like that weirdo in the herring bone.”

I think that is about when that toilet paper roll gets down to the cardboard tube and it’s game over. It’s time to not only throw in the towel, but all the sweaters you have.

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