October 27, 2004
Those are my shorts; don't wear 'em out.
"No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience." ~H. D. Thoreau This is a pair of linen shorts that I bought in the summer of 2001, when I graduated from college and moved to Boston to start graduate school. I wore them hiking this past weekend to see The Devil's Standtable (photos to come), came home, took them out of the wash, and I figured out that I have actually worn them out, as you can see. I had owned those shorts for three years and had worn them on a three-day train ride from Boston to Chicago to Houston, on hikes, camping trips, around Boston and Baltimore, on 12-14 hour car-drives, to graduate seminars and cafés, on the subway in Boston. I had probably spilled coffee, tea, beer, soda and water on them countless times. It's not that they were my only shorts, by any means. I'm ashamed to admit that I have been known to be a clothes-horse at times, though I have had considerable success over the last year in curing that sickness. They were merely my favorite shorts, and I wore the hell out of them. Why is this a big deal? How many times do we actually wear out our clothes? I, for one, am guilty of either closeting a piece of clothing, giving it away or otherwise not letting it live and die its proper course as human attire, by being worn out. I will also admit that I am not going to patch these shorts and wear them anyway, as Thoreau suggests. My nineteenth century American history is faulty at best, but I am a bit certain that clothing was a lot harder to get in Thoreau's time, not to mention a lot more costly. Henry also didn't have television and the cinema to tempt him, but that's another story. Maybe I'm just making excuses for myself. And maybe I am reading meaning into something that is not as unusual as I am making it out to be. Regardless, I feel really good about wearing stuff out. I have a pair or two of jeans -- of which I admittedly have entirely too many -- I am working on next.