Where Daryl saw the necessity for style and high fashion and keeping up with the Marcks’, Gloria saw laundry. Gloria shopped The Nearly New and Second Trys for easy-to-care-for bargains.
When pawing the racks for a t-shirt, a sweat-shirt, or jeans Gloria always considered the amount of time that would be required between trips to the washer-dryer or laundromat. White was never on her shopping list. Black and other colors had to be especially durable. Camouflage was good; muddled beige was good; stain resistant was good. The durability of a piece of clothing, absent the presence of soap and water or dry-cleaning, was the chief selection factor in her shopping. Other elements of the purchase, such as size, fit and show-show-off potential were incidental.
Daryl did not do laundry or shop.
On this particular afternoon, they were in the bedroom getting dressed for an evening with the Jeff and Duwaina Marcks. Jeff was Daryl’s fishing buddy. Neither he nor Gloria cared that the dull blue and beige bedspread had not seen the inside of a washer or dryer in well over six months, though Gloria knew and lived comfortably with this fact.
“These are 42-30,” Daryl said he was holding up a pair of beige pants. He stood in his BVDs beside the bed, holding up a very durable, beige pair of pants and making a this-stinks face. “I’m not a 42.” He was thinking of how he would look to Jeff and Duwaina. Duwaina would think he looked fat and dull.
“Well, dear,” Gloria said, “You’ve got a belt.” Gloria was not being sarcastic. She knew that Daryl believed, and had mis-believed since he was thirty-two, that his waist size was 38. Most of the time she took off the size labels when she brought his clothing home. And she had almost not bought this pair of pants because the label was so integral to its construction. But in the end the need to replace a pair of pants Daryl had managed to get stained, and so would not wear, won out in her buying decision. He might have to suck in a bit, but the waist was expandable, and it was beige and durable.
“Why can’t we get some decent clothes once in a while?” Daryl whined. “Why are we always wearing dull, old, ugly, unfit stuff all the time?”
Gloria shrugged into her “Grandma is a Big, BIG Girl” sweat shirt. It was one of her favorites; an ochre gray mottled pull-over that could avoid the laundry basket for a good, long week. That she and Daryl did not have grandchildren—yet—was not a problem. There was still a possibility of that.
“Well, Daryl,” I’m not spending my retirement shuttling laundry baskets; so, dull, old, ugly is just fine. And fit is always adjustable with a belt and suspenders.
“Besides, it’s not as if we had anything to show off, anymore,” she added. Which was unnecessary and she wished immediately that she had not said it. Daryl’s this-stinks face changed suddenly to a life-sucks pout.
Gloria pulled up her jogger pants, tightened and bow-tied the drawstring, and sat down on the washed-last-March bedspread to put on her sandals. She looked at the laundry basket. It could go another two or three days, at least. She bent to strap her sandals.
“You could wear those,” she said. She nodded toward the pair of 44-32 jeans draped over the edge of the basket. They were actually a perfect fit for Daryl, but she had redacted the size with a black magic marker.
“I wore them yesterday.”
“Well they don’t look dirty to me.”
“But everybody saw me in them yesterday.” By everybody, Gloria understood, he meant the women of their coterie.
“Yeah, and Duwaina was telling me how svelte you looked in them,” Gloria said. This was playing dirty, but she knew it would seal the deal and lower the need to shuttle the laundry basket for another day or two.
“Well,” Daryl said, “Maybe one more day.”
Gloria did a mental fist-pump YES.