When a handful of faithful believers were waiting for the recent Rapture on December 21, 2012, I had other concerns on my mind. While they fervently believed the Mayans had predicted the end of the world and only the truly faithful would be saved, my brain once again punted around the debate of whom were truly “good” people, and who just thought they were.
I read cases of families selling all their possessions, quitting their jobs and hunkering down for The End of Times. I felt badly for their children, no doubt terrified with what their batty parents were preparing for, and also no doubt terrified that somebody would see them naked. That was one of the most notable parts about the proposed rapture, after all: where had once stood your faithful, trusting body would now just be a puddle of the clothes you’d been wearing. Wherever you were catching that connecting flight to didn’t require attire, I guess.
My father would be raptured each day during the gardening season. As daylight faded, he would come into the garage and drop his muddy clothes where he stood down in the garage. There would be his sawed off rubber wellies, gumboots he used to flush out with the hose once in awhile. He’d tuck his socks in them, because everybody knows you can always get another day out of gardening socks. His jeans – usually some design backfire he’d found for 3 bucks somewhere, like the 6 pairs of purple Levis he once scored – would hit the deck.
My mother would stand in the doorway and ask for the t-shirt, desperate to wash something, anything that was leaving his body. He’d usually refuse, unless it was a few days in and the t-shirt was trying to make a break for my mother’s outstretched arm. Dad never got the concept of cleaning something that was just going to get dirty again the next day, and Mom never got how you could put on a pair of pants that fit you like a muddy body cast.
Our house was festooned with my father’s garments at various stages of not-dirty-enough. Lumberjack shirts hung on the side door, and various hooks in the basement and garage held rain jackets, caps, shorts, long sleeved shirts and t-shirts. In the bedroom, draped over a small chair by the bed would be golf shirts that still had a wear left in them, and hanging in the closet – on a hook – would be his “good” jeans. Like some kind of farm version of Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, my father had an outfit for every occasion.
My mother of course, would just go around once in a while and gather up everything she could find and wash it. He’d storm around angry, as if fresh work clothes sucked a little of the masculinity out of the work.
I know why he did it. When we say today that we “did the laundry”, it’s not like we hauled it down to the river and beat it with rocks. Machines do the work; we push buttons. But that luxury still hadn’t made its way into my father’s mindset.
I’ve been doing heavy duty yard work this spring, and yesterday I came into the garage and hauled off my muddy workboots. Dropping my filthy jeans where I stood, I smiled and thought of my Dad. I came in the side door to find a muddy pair of pants and a sweatshirt, work shoes peeking out.
Ari had been helping me. Guess all three of us will end up in the same place.
I hope my father’s not in charge of wardrobe.