By the time I picked out my earrings — silver hoops, just because they’re easiest — I realized I could have tried harder. The outfit I had chosen to wear today could best be described as “Captain of the Capture the Flag Team”: high-necked light blue T-shirt, khaki shorts and dark blue Keds. All I needed was some bug spray and a crumpled letter from home in my pocket and I could have played an extra in Bill Murray’s “Meatballs.”
For a moment, I thought about putting on something a little nicer, a little more feminine. After all, I’d tried much, much harder to look more girlie two summers ago when I was undergoing chemotherapy. But then, when you have no hair, eyelashes or eyebrows, you tend to want to put in a little more effort, if for no other reason except that no one would refer to you as “sir.”
But we were busy today. We had to get to yet another opthalmologist appointment for my son. (The appointment that would finally set us free from over a week of staying ever so still and administering lots of eye drops.) And frankly, I didn’t feel like ironing another shirt.
And so, for much of the day, I felt like a bit of a schlump, yet a very comfortable schlump. And then, while waiting in line at the ATM, I saw him:
There he was, in dress shoes and brown socks, yellow polo shirt and…boxer shorts. Not boxer shorts as in collegiate Greek letters across the seat in an ironic pairing. Not even a swimsuit. I mean underwear. Outside. In public.
Now, this was a Thursday afternoon in a suburban town along a highway filled with people fleeing work for the holiday weekend. This was not, say, at a Manhattan ATM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning after the bars let out, or at my alma mater, Boston University, pretty much any time of the day.
This was not a place where such an outfit might go overlooked. And I couldn’t overlook it. I also couldn’t stop looking at it. I wanted to know the story behind it, but I didn’t dare ask a grown man, “Dude. Where are your pants?”
When he finished his bank transaction, he got back in his car and drove off, looking normal to his fellow drivers who couldn’t see his boxers. I, on the other hand, still looked like I was heading to Arts and Crafts. And suddenly, that was perfectly okay.