Turning 30 and losing your shirt

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller share the same small house and tiny bathroom but not always the same opinion. They offer their views on every-day issues, told from two different perspectives.

HE SAID: A few Saturdays ago, Callie insisted we clean out the bedroom from baseboard to ceiling. Callie, after all, needed more space for her clothes. So naturally, it was up to me to purge some of my treasured garments so my cute and talented wife could take one of my drawers as one of hers.

I had no choice, she told me, but to get rid of some of my old T-shirts that either no longer fit or had holes where there were supposed to be no holes.

I learned a lot about myself that day. One thing I learned was that when it comes to clothes, I'm a bit of a pack rat. (But Callie, I still wear that!) But the biggest lesson came from my sock drawers. I was startled when I realized I had more dress socks than athletic socks.

To many, this may have been no big deal. To me, it was a sure sign, perhaps even more than the gray hair I see during my barber shop visits, that my youth is slipping away.

I had all sorts of dress socks. Some brown. Some black. Some with patterns. Some thin. Some thick. Then I moved to my other drawer, with the white socks.

There were some brand-new socks in there. Days before, I had bought some because I couldn't find any. Still, even with the new ones, there were far fewer athletic variety than work variety. It spoke volumes about my life.

A couple of weeks later, for no apparent reason at all, I found that my calf was hurting. I wouldn't call it a muscle pain exactly, although it may have been.

More accurately, it was a nagging pain. I had done nothing extraordinary. Nothing at all. Just a pain. As to remind me of arthritis commercials. Fortunately, we had a pain-relief patch stored away. That helped matters.

Then there was another time, just a few nights ago, when I was coming home from work, around 10:30 or so in my new silver sporty sedan. I had the music up loud because, well, it's a new car with a nice stereo and a sun roof. I think the song was "I Love Rock and Roll." The original version. The one that was cool. I pulled through the park, because I live by the park.

As usual, there was a crowd of teenagers congregated there by the low-water bridge. I was not driving through to try to impress anyone, truly. And I assure you I didn't. I got one of those looks.

Like, what's with the old guy and the loud music? And it is with these recent experiences that I said goodbye to my 20s on Thursday. On one hand, I say good riddance. On the other I say, come back.

SHE SAID: I've been giving Bob a hard time about his age since we met (he was 26, I was 20.) The difference has become even more serious as he quickly approached 30 and I meandered along in my early 20s.

I always thought women were more sensitive about their age than men, but this is not the case with my husband and several other 30-ish men I know. I can't even joke about it any more with Bob. He sulks for hours on end if I do.

I just hope now that he actually has turned 30, the bitterness will end.

I've got seven more months before I hit 25. Maybe I'll understand the magnitude of the situation when I'm on that downhill slide to midlife as well.

But I know a lot of people older than I who lead much more active and exciting lives. Some -- gasp! -- who even find reasons to wear athletic socks a couple times a week.

And speaking of clothing, I did make Bob throw out some of his old T-shirts. He had more than 40 of them. Who needs 40 T-shirts? Definitely not a guy lamenting the lack of use his athletic socks are getting.

I polled guys in my office, and most own 20 T-shirts max. Thanks to some healthy cleansing of drawers, Bob only owns about 10 more than the office average. Now, if he'd only turn down his stereo a little. ...

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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