Here. Smell this hoodie. Smells OK, right? You’d consider that, if not ocean breeze clean, at least clean-adjacent? 

Good deal. I’ll wear it for another day. Been wearing this hoodie since a time before I even heard the term “coronavirus.” I keep MEANING to wash it, but what would I do while it’s spinning in the big machine? Wear nothing? Wear another hoodie? 

I can’t do it. I have about a dozen hoodies, but wearing another while this one washes would feel like a betrayal. It would feel like cheating. This one hangs just right. The hood covers my head just so. When I’m wearing that hoodie, I’m in a good place, even if that place is starting to reek a little. 

The pants are clean, though. Real clean, mostly because I haven’t worn them much in this “new normal” that has thrown all the cadences of the workday right out the window. Fleece lined cargo pants they are, with double stitching and oversized pockets for the active man on the go. 

The pants are right there on the back of the futon, just waiting for some active man to put them on. 

“We going out tonight?” the pants ask me as I sit here pecking at the keys. “Gotta be something happening somewhere, right? Come on, brother. Pull me on and let’s roll.” 

But I just keep on pecking at the keys and sometimes I hear the pants weeping softly over there in the corner. Drama queen, those pantaloons. Why, we went out just three days ago, for a ride on the motorcycle to see how the downtown was doing. And to be fair, I get dressed every day, mostly because of the boots. 

Ah, the boots. Wolverines, they are, with leather upper and nylon shank. I wear them all year long. If I don’t slip my feet into those boots every day, then I’ll really start to feel something is out of kilter. I’ll wear the boots even if I’m wearing just sweatpants and a T-shirt, otherwise. I’ll wear the boots if I’m still in pajamas. I’ll wear those boots even if I’m just stepping out of the shower, and here I’ll allow you a moment to acclimate to those visuals. 

You good? Feeling OK? 

And the Carhartt coat. That hasn’t been washed lately, either, mostly because it’s part of my comfort wardrobe and there’s no garment in the world good enough to replace it. A ratty old thing, the Carhartt, worn down at the cuffs and pocked with so many holes, it looks like the weasels have been at it. But it’s rugged and it sits on my frame just right and if I don’t wear it every day, I feel like a knight without his armor or an NHL goalie without his cup. 

I feel like if I didn’t wear the hoodie, the Wolverines and the Carhartt coat, the second I step out the door, those hell-raising viruses would rain down on me like poison darts from space. 

So, yeah, Bruh. I have my Coronavirus uniform. It ain’t sexy, but just you forget about all that. I’m a police reporter. We’re designed to roll around in mud and slop and road dust, all sweaty and dripping with adrenaline. I suppose I could throw a tie on around the Carhartt collar, but come on. Who am I trying to impress? 

No court appearances where buttoned-down collars and crisp ties are required of reporters. No school committee meetings where a newsman is expected to look, at the very least, like he hasn’t been rolling around with stray dogs during a six-day bender. No church gatherings, no city councils, no public assemblies where pants are generally required. 

The hair is another matter. The other day, I stumbled sleepily into the hall and caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror. I screamed aloud and clawed for a weapon. I threw punches at the mirror and even tried to deliver one of those headbutts you see in all the motion pictures. For one crazed moment, I thought Charlie Manson and Billy Idol had merged into one wild-haired beast who had been sent to steal my boots. 

Let’s be honest. I’ve never been one who’s very particular about his hair. I’ve been known to cut it myself or to hire some drunk dude from Kennedy Park to do it. When it comes to hair, I don’t care about feathering or blending or fades, I mostly just want it the hell out of my way. 

Right now, it’s not out of my way. It’s standing straight up in the air, reaching for the sky as if it’s actively afraid of the runaway beard that’s appeared at the other end of my face. All this hair – what’s the deal, anyway?

The deal is that I almost never look into a mirror these days to confirm that I’m purty enough to go out. Hair is the last thing on my mind and in the absence of scrutiny, it’s in revolt. But who cares right? Nobody’s going out and if they do, they tend to look frantic and frazzled. Just keep 6 feet away, don’t sneeze on my groceries and my hair won’t hurt you, I promise.*

And T-shirts. I have a lot of T-shirts but the problem now is that they’re mostly all the same color. Without the old rhythms of a normal workday, I tend to forget how long I’ve been wearing the one I presently have on. A day? Three days? A week? Are shirts supposed to stand up by themselves when you take them off? What’s with all the flies, anyway?

Surely I changed the T-shirt after my last shower, but when was that, anyway? Last night? The night before? Was it even this week? Do I even HAVE a shower?

So, yeah. Clearly I’m going to need one of you fine people to come over here and sniff me.

* Shortly after this column was written, I took an electric razor to my head. It’s gone. The hair is gone. It can’t hurt you anymore.


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