Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 1-16-12
“I ain’t ever quit on a garment just because it’s got a little age on it,” said Captain Augustus McCrae in the epic miniseries, “Lonesome Dove.” That’s one of my husband’s favorite movie lines – it’s sort of a mantra for him. I don’t know if he has clothes that are as threadbare as old Gus’, but some are pretty close. He gets real protective of some of them when I start threatening to toss them. “Hey! That’s just getting comfortable and broke in good,” he’ll warn me. “Don’t you dare throw it away!”
Once I slipped a worn out shirt down deep into the nasty kitchen trash can. I felt relieved to be rid of it. The collar and cuffs had long since frayed, and the colors were faded and pale. Unfortunately, I left the bag on the back porch too long and the dogs got into it. The treasured shirt was stretched out amongst the coffee grounds, egg shells, food wrappers and wet paper towels scattered throughout the yard. He wasn’t too happy to make that discovery.
He used to have a pair of elephant skin boots that had been resoled so many times that the boot repairman finally called it quits. I recently replaced a zipper on his favorite jacket. He’s been duct taping the rips and the pockets together for years. It started out a handsome olive green 20 plus years ago when I gave it to him for Christmas. Now it’s a dull greenish gray, but I dare not dispose of it.
My dad once had a well-worn felt cowboy hat. Every year Mom would try to convince him to buy a new one. Even after he did, he’d always go back to his old stand by, much to her dismay. It was soft and faded – stained by rain, rust, grease, manure, sweat and tobacco, but he loved it. Every spring, she’d hide it back in the deep recesses of his closet behind heavy coats and camouflage coveralls. And every winter, he’d search until he found it. He’d cram it down on his head, stomp out of the house towards the pasture, ignoring her protests.
One summer Mom went on a cleaning binge and decided to get rid of that old hat once and for all. She stuffed it in a bag and put it in an outside trash barrel. Either to hide the evidence or make sure Dad couldn’t retrieve the hat, she decided it was a good day to burn the trash. With their hectic schedules and constant stream company that rotated through our doors, Mom forgot about the hat until the next fall.
When the first cold front blew in, Dad figured it was time to pull out his trusty old hat. After 20 minutes looking in all the usual places, he was perplexed when he couldn’t find it. He grabbed another one and made a mental note to look for it later. In a few days, he looked through his entire closet and my mom’. He checked in the hall closet and the office he had at our barn. He searched his truck and Mom’s car.
“Have you seen my old hat lately?” he finally asked Mom.
“No,” she replied truthfully, “I haven’t seen that in a long time.”
He racked his brain but couldn’t think of anyplace else to look. Desperate, he asked Mom to help him. She didn’t want to start World War III by acknowledging the truth. Since he looked so pitiful when he asked her, she agreed to help him. They spent the better part of a morning going through shelves and drawers in all the closets and even in the garage.
In a few days, he asked her about it again, she hung her head and smiled sheepishly. She had to confess her crime. He was shocked and utterly dumbfounded. Otherwise he would’ve been really mad. He had to break in his “new” cowboy hat, which eventually ended up looking like the old one. But Mom let him keep it until he finally had to “quit on it” too – but that time on his own volition. That memory must have sweetened with time because decades later they still laughed about it.