Seven years ago I gave my husband a six week course of Tai Chi for Christmas. He loved it. Loved the standing, the slow movements, even the flat, black shoes. On his third week he came home from the class wearing a pair. “Was the teacher selling those?” I asked. “No, he just gave me them. He didn’t need them anymore.” “You mean he wore them? They’re used?” I said. “They’re fine.” He answered firmly “and very comfortable.” I eyed them. The insoles were fabric and they were definitely worn without socks. Someone else’s sweat. It didn’t bear thinking about.
Last Saturday he was doing a party drop-off and I watched him walk out the door in shorts with a faded ink stain on the pocket, a gap jumper that has been washed about sixty times and is the colour and texture of a used j cloth and a t shirt we got for three Euros in a supermarket in France when we had only two children. And the tai chi shoes.
Instead of thinking “What a nice husband! Not only has he already put a chicken with roast potatoes and chorizo in the oven (he had! The recipe is on page 216 in the Jamie’s dinners cookbook) but he is also saving me a forty minute trip to NRG in Rathcoole on a sunny Saturday afternoon. No, I’m ashamed to say I just thought “Please, please change your clothes before you go.”
He didn’t of course and rang later to say that the party was an hour and forty minutes long so he was going to wait in the NRG car park and wax the car, thus sealing our fate as the “different” parents in the class. Over the next few days I bided my time, waiting for a good moment to bring up the idea of replacing his wardrobe and binning the current contents. Mornings weren’t good because who needs to wake up to be told they look dreadful? Evenings weren’t either, because he often cooks dinner. It seemed ungracious to mention his appearance when my mouth was full of pasta with spinach, nutmeg and mascarpone or tortilla wraps with salsa(made with actual tomatoes and red chilli peppers), sour cream and chicken that had been marinating in olive oil and lime juice all afternoon. On the evening he did an omelette with feta cheese and patatas bravas on the side with a warm, chunky, spicy tomato sauce I began to think the clothes didn’t really matter at all.
But I did say something in the end. And he did'nt take it to badly. Now the plan is, tomorrow afternoon we each go through the others wardrobes and take out garments we hate. These go in a pile destined for the bin/charity shop unless the owner claims a particular, sentimental attachment. Which means I’ll keep my
Weirs Beach, ’89 t-shirt and I’m pretty sure he’s going to keep the shoes. New Hampshire