Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov | Unsplash

The Outfit

Or, It Doesn’t Matter Who Cares

The outfit I’m wearing today signals full and utter resignation. Something has clearly snapped and I seem to no longer care. The outfit screams, “I do not care.”

Things have gone horribly awry.

The outfit has a clown/hospital vibe but also an oddly cheerful I do not care vibe. If someone had shown me this outfit when I was young and cool adjacent, I would have registered a brief, bemused confusion and forgotten about it immediately. If that someone had told me that it was an early fall Sunday morning outfit from my fifty-fourth year, I would have quietly lain down and died.

Complete and utter resignation.

The outfit is made worse by the fact of its good condition. Both pants and shirt are clean and whole. It is not threadbare or pilled. The elastic is in perfect shape. The fact of the elastic tells a large portion of the story.

This is not a messy outfit. This is a comfortable resignation, a sweet fall into the arms of mid-life indifference. This outfit is a Waldorf salad — my mother’s Waldorf salad, with lime jello, Cool Whip, and marshmallows. Which may have actually been Ambrosia. Whatever. She called it Waldorf.

Mom’s 1975 Waldorf salad, that may have been Ambrosia. I don’t care.

The shirt is printed with a sort of lime jello dartboard/polka dot theme on a Cool Whip background, perky in the way of lost ladies in dollar stores. A mod sixties pattern reimagined by hospital supply. The neckline is high and regular and the body shape is tubular. The pants are green knit with elastic. I’ve come all the way to the land of green knit with elastic. The green matches the alternating green of the dartboards and the matchy-matchy situation says as much as the elastic.

This is complete and utter resignation. I look ridiculous, but not ridiculous in the way of mismatched Sunday tatters, leftovers from a busy life. This is I don’t care ridiculous. This is I’m off to the beauty parlor in 1972 ridiculous. I just need a bouffant and some frosting.

The pants are here because they cost $7. Seven dollars. I don’t care. The shirt was a cast-off from my 92-year-old mother-in-law. Clearly, I don’t care. I can’t decide if things are dire or delicious. The dire fate of a resigned aging lady or delicious acceptance of the narcotic effects of comfort and indifference.

And so I find myself at a Sunday morning fork in the road. Do I shed this ridiculous textile armor, reinvent my style, reclaim some pride in appearance? Or do I embrace the indifference, the space to not care, the wink in the ridiculous?

Make them look or keep them guessing?

I don’t care. I’m going to make babka.



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