Sunday 04 Dec 2016

No New Clothes
AJ Robinson

When you’re the fifth of five boys, there are certain things with which you must content. My parents didn’t exactly take note of many of the milestones of my childhood. After all, it was certainly a case of, “Been there, done that.” Where my oldest brother had umpteen zillion pictures of himself as a newborn, I had, I think, about six. My dad was scoutmaster to for my brothers. By the time I came along, he was too old for that stuff and they didn’t even encourage me to join the scouts.

The place where I noticed it the most was in one area was clothing. As the fifth of five boys, it something important thing, I got hand-me-downs.

I remembered seeing the old Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball movie “Yours, Mine and Ours.” In one of the early scenes, Henry describes in a voice over narration how his girls would start each school year by simply handing down their clothes to the next in line; then he would alter them to fit each girl. One of the girls had such a look of utter humiliation at the prospect of wearing a multiple-changed old dress on her first day of school.

Well, I never went through that, thanks to my mom. She did a good job of taking the former fashion statements, made by my brothers, and molding them into something appropriate for school, play, church and what-have-you. I did have my fair share of items that really did not fit me properly. There were pants that were too tight or too long, shirts with sleeves that were just a bit too short or too long and some styles that just did not fit with my time. The worst part was footwear. I did not like the old shoes; the sneakers discolored, for the most part, and the soles were cracked.

Fortunately, I had an “out.” Although I was the youngest, it wasn’t long before I definitely wasn’t the smallest. I don’t know if it was genetics, hormones or maybe a better diet; heck, maybe it was a blending of all three. I grew like the proverbial weed! It wasn’t long before I outgrew a ton of the clothes and shoes leftover from my brothers. Finally I heard the words I’d been longing for my parents to speak: “We need to buy him some new things.”

Yes, victory was mine, at last. I was free of the confines of old clothes. My mom dragged me off to shop for some things of my own. Now, I know boys are not supposed to enjoy shopping, especially clothes shopping. I was a special case. The simple fact that I was getting stuff of my own was justification for me to be truly elated.

The thing is, I have no memory of what it was we bought that day, despite them being the first new outfits I ever got. I guess in that respect, I was a good and proper boy. There was one thing I did remember about shopping for clothes as a child.

I eventually did it a lot!

That was the thing about my growth, as a little boy: I didn’t stay little for long. By the time I was ten, I was taller than my mother and about six feet tall. Yeah, I was all skin and bone, almost literally, but I just kept shooting up in sizes. When my mom had to buy me shoes that were literally a foot in size, I knew I had truly outgrown any items my brothers had left behind.

I guess you could say I literally outgrew being the youngest.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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