I was brought up in the kind of household where, if you were told to be somewhere at 2 p.m. and you weren’t there by 1:50, you were late. My wonderful spouse of 29+ years is of a slightly different mindset…. If you were told to be somewhere at 2 p.m. and you weren’t in the shower at 1:50, you were going to be too early.
When S and I were dating, a friend’s dad needed some help moving furniture around and S was happy to volunteer. His friend told him to be there at 9:30 Saturday morning. That Saturday morning S strolled down the friend’s driveway at 10 a.m. on the dot. The friend’s dad smiled and said naively, “Hey, look at that - right on time.” S turned to his friend. “I thought I was late. Didn't you say 9:30?” The friend smiled and replied, “Yes, I did.”
This should have been a sign.
It is this type of ‘deadline denial’ that lends to us being late for 90 percent of the events we attend together, including church, family and friend gatherings, and doctor appointments. When we were expecting YK and I took a Lamaze refresher course, he called about 20 minutes before the class – on the road for work about 30 minutes away – wanting me to wait for him. Needless to say, trying to demand anything from a very pregnant, Italian woman can be dangerous to your health. He met me there ten minutes into the class.
I share these memories with all (both) of you so that you may understand this.
Last weekend we had a wedding to attend, the daughter of friends that we have had the pleasure of watching grow into a beautiful woman over the last 15 years. We had many months to prepare. Months, mind you. Now… I will admit I had hoped to get a new pair of shoes for my outfit that day, since I had procrastinated and was panicking. The wedding wasn’t until 2 p.m. at our church less than five minutes away, so I had all morning to run out and hit at least the two local shoe stores. This would not be an issue.
Pick an outfit - any outfit. Not that.
On Saturday morning, around 10-ish (with plans to leave shortly for shoes) I was ironing my outfit when I asked S what he was wearing. I fully expected him to come out and show me a pair of pants and a couple of shirts to choose from. He came out with a pair of dark gray, heavy winter pants. This was not good.
“You can’t wear these!”
“Well, I don’t have anything else that fits me.”
“Nothing that doesn’t have eight pockets on the legs.”
Upon review it also came to light that none of his button down dress shirts fit him properly anymore (by this I mean where he could breathe when he buttoned them) and his tie collection was more of a tie glob. My dream of new shoes was quickly flitting out the window. It was obvious we would be going clothes shopping for S.
I know right now the burning question you have is – why doesn’t he have any decent clothes for occasions such as this? Just a couple of shirt, tie and summer slacks combinations, right? Apparently you have not seen my wardrobe. It is a rare morning that I am not standing in front of my closet, staring at several (two) different choices I have to wear to work that day, waiting for a top (preferably not stained) and bottom to miraculously levitate toward me so I know it’s the right pairing. In other words, I hate to shop, and so I will take at least some responsibility for this last minute (stressing minute) necessary shopping excursion.
Sometimes accosting a stranger is what it's all about
It was approaching noon when we raced to a store not far from home where I immediately shoved S into a dressing room and proceeded to throw several season appropriate shirts and slacks in for him to try on. Many outfits later we hunted for the ties. When I tell you that I have almost no fashion sense, this is not an exaggeration. I would be ecstatic if all clothes were based on the Garanimals concept. It wouldn’t have to be animals – it could be more adult themed… perhaps a glass of wine on a blouse and skirt – something relatable. I was whipping through the tie racks when I spotted a gentleman deftly (and oh so innocently) pairing shirts and ties with obvious fashion sense.
“Excuse me… do you know much about matching shirts and ties?”
“Great! Can you help us?”
This poor guy proceeded to skim through the racks with S and me as we held the shirts against one tie after another, awaiting his approval. We finally came across a spiffy little number that matched the blue (probably more like periwinkle - I have no clue) shirt S had decided to wear (looked great with his new light gray summer slacks). Our tie helper angel let it spill that he had worked in the men’s department of a well-known department store, and was very good at choosing outfits. His time and expertise went a long way with two bumbling fashion idiots at that moment. A few minutes later I turned to glance at another row of button-downs, and when I looked around he was gone.
“Thank you, kind stranger,” I uttered to the empty aisles.
With just over an hour to go before we had to be at the church, the mission continued – because hey, I had already said I needed shoes. We paid for the oodles of clothes S would now have in his closet for just such a fashion emergency and dashed over to a nearby shoe store. Much against my better judgment, I tried on a pair of sandals with a toe loop and let out a yelp. Skimming the rows of summer styles, one pair finally caught my eye – flat, cute but not flashy, and nothing to saw my toe off. They went well with the skirt I had at home (ironed, thankfully). Sold. And I had a coupon! Ah, but the catch was that the shoes were one cent short of the minimum to use it. Really?? So I did what any red-blooded American on a panic-shopping trip would do… I paid another $6 on peds to get $10 off. I don't even wear peds - YK does. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to convince her to pay me the $6. Sigh.
Homeward bound, where I flung the ironing board and iron into the living room, speed-ironing through what I hoped was an acceptable pressing job on several of the newly purchased items so S would have a choice and then put the rest away.
Put them away? Who was I kidding?? This man has clothes from 1978 still following him around, begging to be donated to the Animal House Museum. Nothing is going to fit in his closet at the present time. A purging is required, and for that he will need the assistance of the resident fashion consultant/teenager. And so at the moment clothes are dangling precariously on whatever kind of hook or extension he could find… but the point is - he had something to wear to the wedding.
Do we recognize anyone here from the store parking lot?
We made it with 5 minutes to spare. Well, longer really, because how many weddings actually start on time? My husband looked quite handsome and I was proud of his choices. The other good news was that the pair of shoes I had plucked in a miraculously short time actually fit and didn’t need to be broken in, which meant my toes weren’t being amputated as we danced and the backs of my feet hadn’t rubbed raw between the church and the reception. Let’s not go far as to say we were a fashion statement. We were presentable – that’s a major achievement in my book.
I have learned to almost tolerate the fact that S will forever be the guy who requires a range of at least a half hour in order to ensure he will arrive anywhere near close to on time. Often I am the only one who is ready to string him up because we are running late… I have to admit more often than not someone else will arrive after us at most functions. It is not intentional – he doesn’t start to get ready to leave the house with the idea that he will do 17 other things before we walk out the door. The problem is that he gets distracted much, much too easily.
The birdfeeders, which have been empty for two weeks, have to be fed two minutes before you are leaving for a dinner.
The cat box has to be cleaned, and what better time to do so than when I have the car motor running in the driveway?
He can’t find his sunglasses.
He can’t find his cap (he has 31 of them, all desperately needing to be thrown in the wash).
He just got out of the shower.
He just went into the bathroom.
He just has to finish this game of online Solitaire.
He just has to pay a bill online by noon today.
He just has to find the bill he was supposed to pay online by noon today.
All very valid reasons, wouldn’t you say? Me neither.
I’ve tried to set his alarm clock just a few (10… maybe 15) minutes fast in the morning so he would be done in the shower a little earlier and I would have more time in there. I think he programmed it so I can’t reset it without his being able to tell it was tampered with. I’m terrified that if I make any changes, the alarm will go off even louder and more often than it does now (because S firmly believes in multiple snoozes) and I will hurt someone (him) in my sleep-deprived stupor.
I’ve attempted to speed the process up in our daily lives by doing little things like preparing lunches the night before a work day. Still we are dashing out the door while calculating just how many summer tourists I have to run off the road to get to work on time (thank goodness most of them sleep in). I used to be so prompt. Now I'm usually working on an apology (i.e. excuse) on the way to facing scowls and snickers from assorted hosts and other guests.
You could consider it a bit of an irony that my intention is always to have this blog updated by Sunday evening at the latest (this is usually a realistic goal, considering my original plan was to publish every Saturday morning), and here I am mid-week just getting around to it. Hey, I had a very legitimate reason.
I just can't share it with you because I may need it for another time.