Ready-to-wear, again

A panel of qualified experts, assisted by recognized authorities, has addressed itself to a matter of sartorial etiquette on which I, myself, have been something of a specialist for some time - is it all right to wear the same outfit to work more than once a week? In my hilarity over this, I lost the drift, but I seem to recall that it is, yes, all right to wear the same outfit to work more than once a week. Quite so, and here in Friendship the idea of going to work has a risibility I'm sure that panel didn't consider.

When I bound from bed in the joyous morn, to stand and admire my patriotic pajamas in the full-length mirror I maintain at great expense for that purpose, my day's work is right there and has been waiting all night. It is great fun for us to tune in a Boston radio station at breakfast time and listen to the traffic reports. Tobin Bridge is backed up into New Hampshire, Callahan Tunnel is plugged at both ends, and by the Dorchester Gas Tanks commuters are running 45 minutes late.

This news is welcome recompense for the privations we endure for living so far away, and we ingest our eggs with jollity and mirth. Our only traffic problem at that hour comes when Barbara, the world's best school bus driver, pauses at the end of our roadway to pick up the Hackett children. Our Maine lobstermen, who might create a highway problem, are long gone to the shore in their pickups at that time - they plan to be seven miles down the bay at sunrise.

And our Maine lobstermen tend to wear the same neoprene sea gear day after day until it wears out. I asked Sadie one time if her lobsterman husband, Elroy, wore his rubber boots to bed, and she said no, but he sits on the edge of the bed to take 'em off.

When I was young and striving, eager to amount to something someday, I dealt with high-class haberdashers who came in their limousines to take my measurements, and I paid constant heed to my wardrobe. I was in a daily dither as to whether I should hoe my beans in top hat and tails, or go casual and wear a simple tuxedo. But then I noticed that most of my neighbors would wear the same pair of overalls for days at a time, and the beans didn't give a hoot. I made the change gradually, so I wouldn't startle townspeople, first leaving off my necktie and then taking on different attire.

I dismissed my tailors and went to Economy Clothing Store, which today gives me friendly service and saves me some money. The boys there have my measurements written on the inside of the fitting room door, and every time I buy something I get a free chance on a bicycle. Not long ago they completely altered my wardrobe, wreaking a considerable change in my attire while I work.

The truck didn't come, so they didn't have dungarees in my size, and they had run out of blue shirts to match. The boys were most apologetic. It had been my custom for years to buy six or eight dungarees at a time, shirts to match, and when these had expired I would reinvest.

But this day the boys stood inside the door shaking their heads and wringing their hands and they told me the truck hadn't come. ``Tomorrow is no good,'' I said. ``I am on the verge of being arrested for indecent exposure - don't you have something in a different weave, perhaps a touch of dignity better suited to my standing in the community?''

``Better suited! Ha, ha - that's good!'' one of them said, and he led me to a discreet and secluded place behind the athletic wear and held a pair of pants against my easterly frontage. He said, ``Like the paper on the wall!'' I was immediately taken with the idea of a change. ``Shirts?'' I asked.

``What color?''

``How about an off-blue?''

Word went around after that, and quite a few people came to see me working, curious as to what I had on from day to day. On Fridays I would go for the yellow pants with the tangerine and green shirt, and one Friday a man came from the newspaper to take my picture. Being a modest sort and not in need of publicity, I took a hint from that and realized I was overdoing. In time I went back to my dungarees and blue shirts.

There are two items of dress that merit separate remarks. I never wear a necktie at work. I find they are a surprising nuisance when I am turning something on my lathe and lean too near. I also avoid neckties at other times, as they impede ventilation in hot weather.

The other item is a necessity: steel-toed boots. When you neglect to remove your foot just before the log strikes, you learn to wear safety boots daily.

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