This way, when you see the yellow pants, you’ll know what to do.

August 14, 2009

The instructions are very specific.

If Viking Woman ever finds me wearing yellow golf pants pulled up to my nipples, she is to shoot me immediately. No warning. No hesitation. No mercy. If I’m dressed like a cartoon character on drugs, it can only mean one thing: old age has me in its anaconda grip and it’s time to send me back into the welcoming arms of Baby Jesus.

I once spied an elderly gentleman clad in such attire and it scared me so badly coffee actually shot out my nose. Which was an interesting experience because I wasn’t actually drinking coffee at the time.

Fashions come and go. And then they come back again, whether we want them to or not. The fedora, for instance, is as dead as John Dillinger. Or it was, until the likes of Justin Timberlake resurrected it. These days, wearing a fedora is cool again, providing you’re a big fan of boy bands. Or, you know, gay.

As faithful readers know, I’m currently working part-time in the laundry room of a seniors’ residence. (I know what you’re saying: “But, John, you’re a highly-trained, experienced and talented journalist.” To which I reply: “I know. Weep with me.”)

I see a lot of clothes on the job. I also see a lot of feces, but I’ll leave that story for another posting. The residents are, for the most part, my grandfather’s age, so we’re talking two generations further down the Fashion Highway. That said, comfort dictates there are plenty of sweatpants and T-shirts and other loose-fitting apparel going in and out of my machines — items you’ll find in my own closet.

But there are also several articles of clothing you will never find in my possession.

Let’s start with handkerchiefs. Oh, sure, I own a couple, but their function is limited to polishing the lenses in my glasses. I do not and never have employed handkerchiefs to blow my nose. I don’t know anyone who does. That’s why they invented shirtsleeves. And the back of your hand.

Is the handkerchief doomed to fall out of fashion once my grandparents’ and parents’ generations have shuffled off this mortal coil in their knitted slippers?

Probably. Unless, of course, you’re a wannabe gangsta and want to look, you know, retarded.

Nightgowns should also be consigned to history. And not a moment too soon. That whole Little House on the Prairie look is so dated. And that date is 1800. If you’re wearing a nightgown, you’re not getting into my bed. Unless, of course, we’re playing that whole Michael Landon fantasy game. Again.

Actually, if you sleep with someone who wears a nightgown to bed, you are not the target audience for my blog. Back away from your grandchild’s computer, put your teeth back in and put the kettle on. It’s time for a cuppa tea and a lie-down. Coronation Street starts at 7.

Singlets worn as undershirts? I’m thinking no.

But what if this isn’t a generational thing? What if there is a standard uniform for the elderly, administered by the government at the insistence of lobbying groups from the likes of Sansabelt and Hush Puppy and Depends.

Maybe it’s my imagination. Maybe when you’re 110 years old you just wear what you bloody well want because, really, who is looking at you? Besides undertakers, that is, measuring you up with their eyes as you limp past. No, at a certain age it’s all about comfort and whatever won’t hold a stain from the strained apricots.

Surely there is no Fashion Law for the Elderly. Right?


Still, I can’t help picturing myself years from now answering a knock on the door. Some wiseass punk will be standing on the verandah, grinning like he owns the world. He won’t say anything, will only shove a package into my hand and turn away.

I will balance the package on my Zimmer frame as I slowly make my way to my favourite chair. It takes me awhile to rip off the tape and open the box, but when I pull back the tissue paper to reveal what’s inside, I will let out the longest sigh my withered lungs can muster.

The polo shirt is the colour of margarine. The pants are baby-shit yellow. The shoes are white.

There will be a note and it will say something like, “Hi, gramps. Guess what? Time to burn the jeans and the T-shirt that says ‘Trust me, I’m a gynecologist.’ Enjoy your new wardrobe.

“P.S. Sucks to be you.”

“Honey,” I’ll call out.

“Yes?” Viking Woman will reply from her sewing room.

“They’re here.”

“Hang on. I’m coming.”

By the time she enters the room, something heavy and dark clutched in one hand, I’m already wearing the pants.

What was it The Who sang? Oh yeah — “Hope I die before I get old.”

It would certainly save on bullets.

Ed. Note: For dramatic purposes, certain aspects of this blog posting have been embellished. Or are outright lies. For example, we do not own a gun. As Canadians, we are constitutionally required to abhor firearms. It’s right there in our passports. In very fine print. Somewhere.

In reality, Viking Woman would be reduced to clubbing me to death with a hockey stick.

Like I was a harp seal pup.

Dressed in yellow pants.


One Response to “This way, when you see the yellow pants, you’ll know what to do.”

  1. Found you today through Double Sifted dot com and I am glad I did. I got quite a chuckle from your apt description of getting old.

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