We dragged into the house, tired, dirty and exhausted. It had been one of those days. It had started with a jolt, a little after 4 a.m., when an air horn blasted repeatedly as an unknown truck sped down the road near our house. Our feet hit the floor, wondering what animal had found his way through the fence and hoping everything was still alive. I fashionably slipped rubber boots over my pajamas. A quick check revealed nothing out of place. We never discovered who or why the air horn had blared, but by now, there was no point in going back to bed just to shut off the alarm in a few minutes.
The day was filled with one air horn after another. A parts run produced the wrong item, and the correct ones were a day out; the clamp on the telehandler broke while picking up round bales; a glass plate shattered coming out of the microwave; I lost my favorite red bandana sometime during the day; and my phone fell in the toilet.
It was with great relief that the day finally ended. It was even better to see that we had made it in before midnight for the first time in a week. I stared at our dirt-streaked faces. As much as I wanted to just fall into bed, I knew we’d sleep better without sharing that bed with all the dirt, hay and dog slobbers we’d accumulated throughout the day.
My grandmother always use to say “the family that bathes together, stathes together,” so I drew a bath and sent our less-than-excited boys into it, with strict instructions to scrub good behind their ears.
I had just re-bandaged my hand from the screwdriver I had rammed through my palm a few days prior, when the boys emerged from their bath. My oldest wearing pajama pants — and the same dirty shirt he’d just peeled off!
“Why didn’t you put on a clean shirt?” my husband asked sharply.
“I don’t have any. This one is OK. I shook most of the dirt out.”
“It’s filthy!” I exclaimed, then added, “You have two drawers full of shirts.”
“No, I don’t,” he stubbornly insisted.
“I know you do. I just put them there,” I said, getting up to look myself.
Sure enough, two drawers full of nicely folded, clean shirts.
“But they don’t fit,” he argued. He started pointing, “too small, too small, too tight...”
“What about this shirt?” I asked pointing to an orange one.
“... scratchy ... it has buttons ... I can’t sleep in a collar...”
He had a reason why each of the shirts in his drawer were less appropriate than the filthy one he was currently wearing.
I picked up a light blue one with Donald Duck on the front. “Here. Wear this.”
“It’s too big,” he said, a look of complete seriousness on his face.
“Too big? How can a pajama shirt be too big? That’s practically the definition of pajama!” I said, a touch of exasperation in my voice.
He grudgingly took the shirt I held out, and somewhere in the house the clock struck 12.
“So much for being in bed before midnight,” I grumbled as I walked into our room where my husband stood apparently listening to the clean shirt tête-à-tête.
“Did you hear all that?” I whispered. “Too little, too scratchy, too many buttons — and then too big? Ahhhhh.....” I let out a big sigh. “He has two whole drawers full of perfectly good shirts. If he isn’t wearing them, then why are we storing them? We should just get rid of them.”
My husband walked over to my dresser, and opened my two drawers of jeans. “How many of those do you wear?”
I raised an eyebrow. “That’s different. Some are for particular occasions, some are long and need to be worn with heels, and others are just a little tighter than I’d like, and maybe by the end of summer —”
He interrupted me, “In other words, they are scratchy, have buttons, are too small or too big...”
I gave him my best pretend glare, knowing I’d lost. But the next morning, as I was going about my morning chores, I suddenly had a mental air horn going off in my brain, waking me as it were, for the second morning in a row.
I looked at the miscellaneous machinery sitting around collecting dust, the car that hasn’t been driven in years, implements whose cobwebs haven’t been disturbed in even longer — and in that moment I discovered a strong connection between machinery and jeans. Women don’t throw out jeans, that (if we were being perfectly honest) we’ll never wear again, because of some crazy sentimental attachment. I think men have that same affection toward cars they’ll never drive and implements they’ll no longer pull.