Last month my wife and I celebrated our anniversary by going on a long trip together, and there were some moments of self-discovery that marked a change for both of us in the way we view my clothing preferences.
I have mentioned in the past that my wife is completely neutral on the subject. For over 25 years she has neither complained nor criticized nor encouraged me; the one time I brought the subject up she said that it’s “not one of the things I like about you best” and regards the way I dress as a personality quirk that she puts up with lovingly because she knows I also put up with her less-than-perfect traits without complaint.
It doesn’t really affect our lives much because I am totally in the closet: I live in a conservative rural community where one peek of my hairy bod in a dress would become front page news the next day and I’d probably be run out of town by an angry mob with pitchforks. I’d love to convince them that what I do is not a crime or a perversion, but I just don’t have the fight in me. And since I present myself as fully male with the typical male lack of concern for appearance, I’ll admit that an unshaved, uncombed, hairy-armed guy with a big beer belly stuffed into a dress with full skirts looks kind of odd by anyone’s fashion standards.
Anyhow, we were on vacation and I had packed along a couple of items to wear in the privacy of our hotel room, knowing that most of the time we’d be out and about so I would be in my standard jeans-and-t-shirt uniform. She called for room service one day and I remarked that I would have to get dressed, and she surprised me by saying “Why?”
Why indeed? We were thousands of miles from home on a tropical beach, and the only person to see me in our room was hotel staff who didn’t know me from Adam, would never have any contact with anyone who knows me at home, and whose tips rely on being courteous no matter how weird his guests are. He’s probably seen it all. So at Mrs. Ralph’s pointed comment, I stopped worrying what others would think. I still did not want to stir up trouble by walking outside the room in my preferred clothes, but I stopped trying to hide how I was dressed if people saw me in my own room. The real surprise here was that my wife didn’t mind either, and that alone was worth all the expense of our tropical vacation.
As it happens whenever room service showed up that week it was fairly dark inside and I was partially obscured by the door when I opened it, so if they saw that instead of pajamas or a bathrobe I really had on a long black sleeveless dress, they didn’t react.
There was, however, one incident that amused me. My wife is handicapped and used an electric scooter whenever she went out without me (otherwise I pushed her in her regular wheelchair). I had purchased a nice floral tropical sundress and was wearing it one morning when she came back from shopping, and I held the door open for her while she wheeled herself in. Another guest happened to be passing by at that exact moment, and as he squeezed past her wheelchair he turned to make sure she was able to get through… and did a hilarious double-take when he saw this hairy guy in a floral sundress holding the door open. I’d love to be a fly on the wall listening in when he got back to his room and told his family what he saw. I never saw him after that and I’ll never see him again, so I don’t really care what he thinks… but his reaction was funny.
My wife’s reaction wasn’t at all earth-shattering or life-changing, but it was a nice peek into her unspoken thoughts about how I dress around her.