I’m on the first leg of the obligatory “Visit-relates-after-loss” trip.  Since the passing of my wife a couple of years ago, they’ve all assumed that the first thing on my agenda should be a visit to their digs.  I don’t know where they got that idea, but it seemed unanimous. 

Here I am in Denver, but I don’t have any relatives here.  This is where my first love, Rochelle, now lives.  We parted amicably forty years ago.  I found out a few months back that she is now a widow.  She is expecting me for lunch in a few minutes.  So, I’m in the men’s room of a convenience store getting self tidy.  Pull on the black Alberto slacks (available from any high rent men’s store),  don the blue (to go with the eyes) Toscano shirt, check that the belt buckle matches the watch, buff the shoes and I’m ready to rock!

The meeting at her place of work, lunch and a leisurely afternoon spent visiting are the best hours I’ve spent in several years.  It’s just as good as it was forty years ago!

Evening—we’re at her home.  I’ve met her cat and two dogs.  The Jack Russel–Beagle mix is harassing the cat while the elderly Dachshund looks on with imperious disdain.  I’m thinking that this is very cool.  I love animals, but my late wife was a farm girl from a German family.  The stern Teutonic attitude that animals are for utility and belong outside was part of her heritage so I’ve spent the last thirty several years without pets.  As I arise from the chesterfield, the first crisis occurs.  Rochelle gasps and looks horrified.  The back of my slacks looks like a cashmere sweater.  I’m covered with white dog hair from the Jack-Beagle mix.  I assure Rochelle that it is no big deal and we have some laughs reviewing the way her current clothes selection is governed by whether or not the garment will show dog hair.

I’ve never thought that clothes were particularly important to me; I didn’t go for a particular look, I just tried to be clean and tidy.  To me, that meant that Jeans were for work, sweats were worn only when sweating and casual slacks should have a nice crease.  In my mind, men, as a matter of course, wore black, blue or grey.  Rumpled cotton and kakis just didn’t have a place.  This all suited my late wife very well, but without knowing it, I may have overdone the tidy schtick.  My daughters refer to me as “Tidy Dude.”

Rochelle and I are now married so the Jack-Beagle mix that scatters white hair from hell to breakfast is a permanent part of the family dynamic.  At first, I squirrelled lint rollers everywhere.  There was one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom, one in the laundry room, one at each door and two in the car.  But, it proved to be a losing battle. The dog can scatter faster than I can clean.  It soon became apparent that Rochelle’s approach of selecting garments that didn’t show the dog hair was a more reasonable approach.  So, I’m acquiring a wardrobe with other than tidy in mind.  The daughters were kind enough to suppress snickers the first time they saw dad in a T-shirts with stuff printed on it.  And, I guess these kakis won’t look too bad.  I know how to wield an iron to give them the newly fashionable “round crease.” (Actually, it’s the same way we ironed navy uniforms almost fifty years ago.)  There is even a new possibility.  I can wear a Tilly vest with the kakis.  It gives me pockets for change, wallet, keys and cell phone.   My trousers no longer have those unsightly pocket bulges!