Today Tom the “pond guy” showed up at 10 a.m. to put my backyard pond to bed for the winter. He emailed last week to say it was time. I emailed back and said yes, just let me know when to expect you. No response.
The dogs went nuts when his little blue VW Beetle pulled into the drive and I, hair askew, still in my bathrobe, wafting morning coffee breath, sheepishly stepped outside to greet him. Fortunately, Tom seems oblivious to questionable grooming, possibly because his attire for pond-cleaning is casual/tramp – as one would expect for that messy job.
After getting him settled in, I showered and brushed my teeth while Tom and his assistant Maria tackled overgrown reeds and lily pads, and scraped down moss-covered rocks.
But I’m not often given the opportunity to clean up when unexpected guests show up. These days, getting caught in my morning attire happens more often than I care to admit.
You see, without conscious intent, I’ve turned into my father. I used to tease Dad about sitting around the house in his bathrobe until noon. After he retired, unless he had an early morning tee time, Bob would spend a couple hours reading the paper and working on the crossword puzzle every day. He’d follow that with calls to friends to set up future golf dates, or make lunch plans, or maybe discuss the progress and problems of renovations at church. Before “abluting,” which was Dad’s favorite term for taking a bird bath and shaving, he might also pause to read a chapter or two of a book he’d been engrossed in. Or sit at the computer to check on his investments, possibly followed by exchanging email jokes with his buddies in Florida.
At any rate, it wasn’t unusual to find him looking quite dapper in his light blue pinstriped cotton robe and slippers, sipping coffee and keeping himself busy until 11:30 or so. When my mother put lunch on the table at noon, Bob was always dressed for the day, smelling faintly of Bay Rum and Crest toothpaste. Lunch was usually a ham sandwich or bowl of soup, a handful of chips, and a cookie. I wish someone would make that lunch for me. Then I’d really be a chip off the old block.
I’ve discovered that this kind of morning routine suits me perfectly. I’m slightly embarrassed when people drop in unexpectedly, but I decided today that I’m not apologizing any more. Because I am a chubby woman, my face is relatively unlined and strangers tend to guess that I’m significantly younger than my 67 years. If it comes up, I like to tell people that the key to looking young is to stay fluffy.
I don’t mind being mistaken for being younger, but I can’t help imagining that these folks are wondering why I’m hanging around the house in my bathrobe. Shouldn’t she be at work? Not any more. Is she independently wealthy? No. Is she sick? Nope. Is she lazy? Yes. Maybe. No. Oh, shut up.
I hereby vow to stop making excuses for spending the morning in my robe. I’m retired! I can an even sleep in if I want to! I mean, I won’t, because I don’t, but I lovelovelove spending hours drinking my coffee with vanilla creamer. I love reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer on my iPad, answering emails, catching up with Facebook, chatting on the phone . . . you get the picture. And why would a stranger who shows up at my door really care? I’m projecting dismay where there may be none, and well, so what?
And there you go. Fair warning. If you show up unexpectedly at my door before noon, it’s on you. I will definitely not look as cute as my dad did, but he was a bald guy whose fringe always looked perfect and his tall frame could make a nicely wrapped and tied bathrobe come off like resort wear.
Miss you, Dad. The only thing better than fiddling around all morning in my bathrobe would be having the chance to spend one of those mornings sharing the paper with you.