Body, Mind & Spirit

I'm not sure if any of my male-pastor counterparts have this problem, but according to my wife, I have an incurable disease called "Fashion Dropsy." Here is how it manifests itself. Let's say my wife and I are going out to eat dinner in a fancy restaurant like Wendy's (a rare occurrence) and as I ready myself to open the car door for her (another rare occurrence) she asks: "You're not going to wear that, are you?" I look down at my leather pants and biker chains and say, "Well, actually, the thought had crossed my mind."

She reminds me that socks and sandals are not to be worn together and then instructs me to go back inside and change into something decent. I emerge a few minutes later wearing a pair of swim trunks and a Colts jersey and she gives me an exasperated sigh that in itself informs me that I shall not be enjoying dessert after the meal.

And this is just one manifestation of Fashion Dropsy. The worst flare-ups happen before worship, when I am trying to create a fashion statement by laying out my jacket and tie, or a nice sweater, the night before. My wife ambles by and asks, "You're not going to wear that in church, are you?" Again, the thought had crossed my mind.

"What's wrong with wearing this camel-hair coat with the plaid red-and-white Bobby Knight pants?" I have to ask.

"Well, first, I'm a Purdue grad," she reminds me, "and those colors don't even go together. And besides, those pants don't even fit you unless you are planning on losing twenty-pounds. And, honey, no one wears a camel-hair coat when it is ninety-five degrees outside."

I hang my head in defeat and stuff my selected wardrobe back into the closet - a shared cubicle where my wife's clothing takes up 90 percent of the space. "I need to buy some new clothes," I say as I thumb through my Andy Griffith tie collection.

She reminds me that Goodwill doesn't open until Monday.

"Let me put something together for you," she tells me. Rummaging around in the closet, she emerges a few minutes later with a dark suit, a silk tie and a pair of black loafers that I didn't even know I owned.

"I thought those we're my grandfather's clothes," I tell her. "Didn't I bring these home after the funeral?"

"Trust me," she says.

I do. And the next day after worship I overhear four or five of the older women commenting on my fashion sense. "You don't see men wearing clothes like that these days," one of them whispers. "But he pulls it off quite well."

I don't have the heart to tell them that my wife dresses me. Just like my mother used to do.

Todd Outcalt serves as senior pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, Ind.