They say painting the Golden Gate Bridge is a job that never ends. By the time they finish, they need to go back to the beginning and start again. This can also describe the process of tailoring my wardrobe.
My lovely wife, Kelly, is an excellent seamstress. She has been shortening my coat sleeves and pant legs as long as we’ve been married. When I’d bring home something new, she would mark it off and tailor it to fit. Sometimes pants would need taking in or letting out, but that was the only extra work, until I qualified for Medicare. Since then, it has been an ongoing process of seasonal shortenings.
I was around 5’ 9”; certainly not tall, but at least on the high end of short. It took a long time to get to that height and it has served me well throughout my adult life. Yes, I’ve aspired to greater length, but one learns to accept the fixed realities of life.
Until, at my first Welcome-to-Medicare visit, it was revealed I was not 5’ 9’’ at all — I was reduced to a paltry 5 feet, 8 and 3/4 inches. Now, this occurred with my regular doctor. I had trusted her for years. I’d come in nearly tall and departed almost short, practically diminished.
First, I thought it might be my socks, as it was summer and they were especially thin. But no, she said it is normal for people’s skeletons to compress over time and get shorter (I hate that word.) Nothing was wrong and I shouldn’t be upset.
Well, that was poor advice. The very next Sunday, I noticed my trouser cuffs were excessively baggy about my shoes. After church, I asked my wife to shorten them a bit. This she did. From then on, from Sunday to Sunday, I’d find yet another pair of trousers was too long. Again, and again, she would measure and mend. As summer transitioned to fall and cotton slacks gave way to wool, the process continued.
The following summer there was another Medicare physical and another loss. I was then down to 5 feet, 8 and 5/8 inches. This time I protested, pointing out there must be other doctors around that weren’t so aggressive about measuring and passive about treatment. Finally, a compromise was reached — in the future we would agree on 5 feet, 8 and 5/8 inches regardless of what she noted in her records.
Still the tailoring has not only continued, it has accelerated, spreading to my coat sleeves, which had begun to creep down my wrists and cover my hands. Poor Kelly could barely keep pace. We both knew it would eventually spread to my flannel shirts and she would be overwhelmed.
I like to think I am a reasonable person. The last thing I want to do is burden my beautiful wife with too much stitching. Besides, short sleeve shirts and Bermuda shorts tend to be flattering and sweaters are more comfortable than flannel shirts anyway. As to the evil Medicare physicals, I’ve decided to farm them out to a different doctor each year as a way of preserving the relationship with my primary care physician.
Scott Funk lives, works, and writes (and gardens) in Vermont. His Boomer Funk columns are available at VermontFunk.com, as are his blogs and archived Aging in Place columns.