By Joe Rector

School started not long ago, and I’ve already been able to serve a couple of days as a substitute. Many of the days I’ve scheduled have 7:00 a.m. classes, but I don’t mind starting early so that I can finish before the traffic rush at the end of the day. Being around a school filled with teenagers isn’t uncomfortable for me either since I spent thirty years in front of English classes. For me, the worst part of the school year starting deals with clothes.

All summer I’ve lived in shorts. Most of the time, I woke early, put on a pair of them and a t-shirt, and drove to the YMCA to complete an “old man workout.” Then I made my way home to complete the day’s list of chores. Sometimes I changed into older pairs of shorts that were covered with stain or paint from earlier tasks. No one much cared what I looked like as I mowed the yard or pulled weeds. By mid-morning, every article was drenched in sweat.

The rest of the time, I wore a bathing suit. Hours were spent sitting by the pool as I read a book or jumped in the water to cool down. On some days, I spent all afternoon there and returned to sit with Amy in the evenings after she arrived home from work. One drawer in the dresser is filled with bathing suits, but for some reason, I like best the two that Amy bought for a bout $5.00 a pair. If smudges of dirt or grease from machinery swiped across them, it made no difference.

Along with those shorts, I wore old t-shirts. Most were several years old, and they were dotted with paint or stain. Some were so old and faded that Amy begged me to toss them out, but like most men, I refused to discard the most comfortable tops that were in my wardrobe. Amy bought several sleeveless shirts in hopes I would clean out the raggedy ones, but they were simply added to the rotation.

Back in the grind of school, I have to wear slacks and a decent shirt. Nothing is worse than the first couple of days after returning to the regular wardrobe. The weather is still stifling hot and humid, and those long pants smother my skinny legs. Polo shirts and dress shirts just don’t “breathe” like my old tops, so I feel as if I am in a sauna the entire day.

Even shoes are miserably uncomfortable. After a couple of months of wearing flip flops, my feet feel swollen and pinched in shoes. Socks don’t help the matter any at all.

I was more than a little shocked on the first day back at school. Boys were clad in shorts and t-shirts, which was normal attire. However, the girls’ clothing was a different story. Too many of them wore shorts that were so short that they barely covered legs or behinds. Tops were cut much too low or had openings in the back that allowed them to show off the latest sport’s bras with intricate webbing. In addition to the shock, I admit to being a bit jealous. No, I’d never wear some of those items, but I longed to return to my shorts and t-shirts that were of better quality.

Before long, the cold weather will blow in, and everyone will be covered from head to toe with warm clothes. Summer dress will be long gone. Yet, as spring arrives and warm temperatures move in, I’ll look forward to the time that I can again spend the day in my comfortable clothes.