Everybody has a story: How many pairs of pants does a retired person need?




To my surprise, I recently discovered I own more than one pair of pants. I was getting ready to move from Washington, D.C., to Vancouver, and the packing people asked: “Waddya wanna do with yer clothes?”

“What clothes?” I asked.

“In yer closet here. Ya want ’em folded or hung?”

“I, um … well …,” I said, as intelligently as possible.

The fact is, I hadn’t been in there in a while, and I’d kind of forgotten about them. I looked at them in some embarrassment; they had a lot of dust on them. I discovered I have two old suits, two older sport jackets, and half a dozen other pairs of pants. I even have three more pairs of shoes. My “new” sneakers, which I seem to wear all day these days, are, to my astonishment (and sudden shame!), 10 years old. At least! Where does the time go?

I have some old pajamas that I never wear to bed. I wear them around the house when I’m washing the pants.

“Well, um, I guess … hung, probably.”

“Those boxes are $30 each. Ya sure?”

“Yes! Sure! Um … I guess.”

Up until then, I liked being retired. But moving is, to me, hell on earth. And I had thought — when I’d thought about it, which wasn’t much — that I’d probably die in situ. I somehow thought my daughter would eventually return to her roots, and bring her family back east. I didn’t realize she had such a full and entrenched life in the West. So, when the dust — and my nerves — settled, I found myself snug and happy in a lovely little house in the great Pacific Northwest, wondering what in God’s name I’m ever going to do with all these clothes.

However, my daily outfit seems to be the classic norm out here. And everybody wears terrible sneakers like mine. I only lack a ponytail, which I’m considering trying to grow. I may even get some tattoos and affect sleeveless T-shirts in black or grey. I probably won’t buy an RV, though. I’ve traveled enough.

I guess the point is, retirement takes work. It takes thought, and one has to make at least one decision a day, however hard one tries not to. I mean, jeez! Moving was enough of a decision to last the rest of my life. I especially resent having to think about things like clothing and coiffures. Listen, I feel downright virtuous if I decide, more than once a week, to shave.

I think retirement has taught me to relinquish expectation and regret. Let life have its way with you. My advice to the newly retired: Don’t ask for much, remember all the good stuff, and shave sometimes.

And keep track of your pants!

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