RETIREMENT — WEEK TWO:
Went into town today; had a couple of appointments, a few things to pick up. In one week, we are now already getting past the “so how’s retirement going?” phase.
Less often, I’m having to use the stock “So far, so good,” and am instead facing the, “You look so different” appraisal. I got that one three times today in the space of a couple of hours. One guy I do business with even candidly remarked, “You look less distinguished.”
The problem is weekdays and suits. For lo these many years, my weekday uniform has been suit and tie. Those who are used to seeing me out and about on weekdays associate me with suit and tie, in the same way they would expect to see a zebra with black and white stripes, or poodle with a silly haircut.
On weekends, my going-to-town costume has traditionally switched to blue jeans and golf shirt. Wearing that to town during weekdays has turned the “This is who Mel is” world upside down.
It’s good, in a way, to have moved beyond the “looking forward to retirement?” conversational phase, and now even the “how’s retirement?” phase. Keeps things interesting.
But I realized something else about suits and ties today. Not only do they define who you are to those who interact with you on business days, but they define who you are to yourself.
I feel a sense of unease as I go around town in my casuals. Occasionally I instinctively reach to straighten my tie. My hand moves toward a non-existent inside left pocket of a non-existent suit jacket in search of my wallet. I suddenly become aware that this is a different me in a different time.
I have seven freshly dry-cleaned suits hanging in my closet and, it will probably take me about seven years to wear each of them one more time. Or maybe I’ll start wearing them to town on Saturdays and Sundays.