Of Plaid and Polka Dots

Have you found yourself becoming one of your parents yet?

A professor of electrical engineering with a Phd from Harvard and a past that included work at Oak Ridge National Lab in its earlier hush-hush days, my very bright father became, as time went on, increasingly, well, eccentric. After a sabbatical abroad in the early 1970s, he let his engineer crew cut grow out to an unruly pepper-and-salt mop, kind of a cross between Einstein and Colonel Sanders. Which became a subject of much let’s call it dissension on the home front.


He also took to wearing my brother’s cast-off orange plaid shorts, one of my mother’s more unfortunate purchases. Throw in one of the elderly white t-shirts which may or may not have had holes hither and yon, since true child of the Depression, throwing anything away truly pained him. (Another way of saying he didn’t.)

Do you start to get the picture?

As a young teenager, I looked on this with horror. So you’ll get a better appreciation for my dismay at realizing that there are a lot of days I dress somewhat the same. James and I are in a never-ending process of digging out the clay and mud from what will be, if we live long enough, a patio. Work I do in a pair of sneakers so old they’re more hole than shoe. And one of the many t-shirts I inherited from my oldest son, some of which are in that gloriously soft state that only comes with age. Which may or may not have a hole or two here and there. And– a truly horrific pair of magenta plaid shorts I picked up at Goodwill years ago in a moment of true insanity.

I didn’t grow up in the Great Depression. Yet it also pains me to throw things away when there’s a possibility they might someday come in handy.

 (Did I mention that on muddier days, I add my new pair of boots from Tractor Supply? They’re black, with colorful polka dots like the  kind you’d find on birthday wrapping paper. Cute, but– with purple plaid?)

IMG_0688 (2)

So, there it is. Late middle age eccentricity repeating itself.





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