I know I’ve said this before, but there are two or three very important situations in effect right now. One – I am retired. That means that I don’t have anything that is terribly pressing for me to go to right now. Two – coronavirus. Starting last March, any meetings I had to attend were completely online. Otherwise, outside of grocery shopping and a few other stops, I just haven’t gone anywhere. Three – and this is tied to coronavirus – I haven’t gone anywhere. No flights, no trips, no overnights, nothing farther than the four-hour round trip to Grafton to check on Cheri’s mom, which we can’t do right now.
All of this adds up to a significant wardrobe selection modification. I have 8 suits and sport coats that I haven’t worn since last Christmas. I have dress shirts and dress pants that are gathering dust in the closet, along with my dress shoes. I put on a pair of khakis – one time in 8 months to meet with the lawyer to sign papers for our living trust. Back in the closet. My dress socks are neatly rolled up in the small drawer, and my ties – well, I don’t even want to talk about them.
So, if I’m not getting all dressed up to sit in my office all day, then – you may ask – what are your clothing options, Randy? Glad you asked. It’s what I have come to call “Corona Casual.” First of all, I have some t-shirts. Four grey ones, two red ones, a blue one, and a black one, that is hard to wear given the propensity of little cats to drop off great amounts of cat fur which cling to my black shirt like iron filings to a magnet. I do have some other t-shirts, but with seven, it seems like a good rotation. I have three long pairs of pajama pants, and three shorts, and when I must travel into the outside world, I have a very comfortable pair of nylon jogging pants that I can wear with my Adidas rubber slipper thongs, or my newly purchased (cause it was getting colder) Sketchers gray slip-on loafers.
Are you sensing a pattern here? Now, I must say that I do have a light blue polo shirt that has seen some wear, probably once every couple of weeks, but the other polos are nice and folded in the drawer. I have a gray sweatshirt, which is worn when the outside temp is 45 down to 30 degrees, and then I have a black heavier waterproof jacket that I wear until it gets to be about -20. After that, I have decided I am not going to go out into the world at that point. We will see how February works out.
In the summer, I did include two other pairs of shorts – one tan and one gray – but they are put away until next spring, I think.
The other dress and even casual shirts that hang in the closet that would be perfect to wear to a meeting or a conference will hang there, I guess, until I have a meeting or a conference to attend.
About once a week, I gather up all the dark clothes – which is everything – and spray stains from cooking oils and such, and drop them into the wash, and then the dryer, and then I fold them up and put them in the drawers for the new week’s rotation.
This corona casual wardrobe has managed to do at least two things. First, it has shrunk my decision making over clothing options to mere seconds. Boring, perhaps, but very simple! Two, I am assured that no matter what I am wearing any time day or night – I am comfortable. Actually, I was going to name it, “Comfortable Corona Casual,” but it seemed a bit redundant, since I have no desire or plan to wear anything that is not comfortable, except perhaps for the dumb facemask that goes with everything.
Actually, I am amazed at how little I do spill on my clothes in the course of a week. Sure, the occasional blob of mustard from the hotdog, or the errant piece of onion or mushroom oiled up and falling from the slice of pizza, but what used to happen, in a former life, is that if I were at a meeting, and we had to eat together, it was a close to 90% possibility that I would drop blue cheese dressing on my shirt, or have some gravy hit my pants leg. In contrast, it’s really something to know I can go even an extended number of days without a food accident. Even then, if it’s not too critical, it may be ignored at least until the next day or so.
So, how long do you expect to maintain this withering pace of clothing options, Randy? You might ask… My answer is – for now. I know that I neither miss the clothes that seemed to be uncomfortable nor the meetings or activities that were also uncomfortable. They seemed to go hand in hand. I remember when I was a boy and we would go to Omaha to visit my great-grandparents, that my Grandpa Serviss seemed to have possibly two shirts that he wore, with his suspenders and big gray pants and slippers and a day old scratchy beard. And he always seemed happy. At least, he seemed relaxed and comfortable. He was someone to admire.
So, after 43 years of ministry, with thousands of wardrobe changes, I have discovered a simpler way. Yes, I know that less is being ladled on to my plate, and my calendar is not very full of anything. But the clothes are comfortable, and I am intentionally so as well. I’ll take and enjoy the privilege that retirement and quarantine offers, and let my mind focus on other things that have more value and purpose, like exploring new ways to offer God’s love, new ways to communicate and new dreams I can dream – even in Corona Casual.
Word for the day: fustilugs. Pronounced FUST-i-lugs, this is a word I hope you would never use, but need to know the meaning of. It’s actually just an Old English insult – you might hear Shakespeare use it in one of his plays – like Henry IV part 2 Act 2 scene 1. The word breaks down into two others: fusty, which means “stale or moldy,” and lug, which describes a heavy clumsy or awkward person, more often a woman. How many times have we heard the phrase in a movie, especially one in the 30s or 40, “Hey – get off me, ya big lug!” Sounds like Abbott and Costello, or the Three Stooges.
So, the word put together means a “ponderous, clumsy person.” And for some unknown reason, it is always used in what seems to be the plural – fustilugs, not fustilug. The word itself is pretty nasty, and it’s never used in a redeeming way. Like I said, this is one to know, but not to employ.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.