Okay, this is just plain bizarre.
Saturday night we went to dinner with my friend...we'll call him Jim...and his wife. Jim is a great friend of mine, someone I really love and respect. But in the course of our dinner conversation, I discovered something about him that I think qualifies him as stone cold nuts. Tell me if I'm way off base here.
First, a bit of background. Jim is a clean-cut white dude in his early 30s, a fine, upstanding, church-going citizen with a Master's degree in business, and a wife and 2 children. Another friend of mine jokes that Jim is my mentor (inspiring him to repeatedly say, "Your mentor is a hack!") because Jim is the person I call when I have a question about...anything. A cooking question, a math question, a geographical question, a question regarding the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, etc. I would argue that Jim is perhaps one of the smartest people I know, if you guys wouldn't immediately begin screaming that that's no compliment considering the boobs and morons that I associate with it. So let's just leave it at this: Jim is a smart guy. Which is why what I'm about to tell you is particularly mystifying.
Every morning Jim works out, either by running outside or by using a rowing machine in his house. He gets very sweaty and disgusting, as is appropriate for such a situation. But then! For reasons I can't fathom, no matter how many times I turn it over and over in my brain, this supposedly brainy fellow sheds his sweaty clothes and hangs them up to reuse again the next day. No, not just the shorts, but the whole ensemble, right down to the socks. In fact, in spite of his wife's strenuous objections, he'll wear them for 2 or 3 days in a row. Now, originally he was hanging his filthy, sopping shirt on the bedpost in the master bedroom of his nice, clean, attractive suburban home, but his very normal, sweet, schoolteacher wife put a stop to that on the grounds that it was stinking up the entire bedroom. So now he hangs them up in the garage.
Let me remind you, I love Jim, and my instinct is to always be on his side. I immediately struggled to find a way to jump to his defense here, so I quickly ran down a list of clarifying questions:
1) Did their washer and dryer break long ago, and thanks to a series of bad investments or possibly a chronic, expensive illness in one or both of the children, they couldn't afford to fix or replace it?
Nope. Both washer and dryer are relatively new, and in good working condition.
2) Does Jim suffer from some kind of strange skin condition, in which freshly washed clothing irritates his skin and causes him great discomfort and an unsightly rash?
Nope. His skin has no adverse reactions to common detergents and/or water additives.
3) Is their laundry room a prohibitive distance from the main part of the house--perhaps in a shed at the far end of an enormous backyard, or up 3 flights of stairs in a cramped attic crawlspace?
Nope. Their washer and dryer is in an incredibly handy, central location.
4) Does Jim only have an unusually limited workout wardrobe--say, 1 shirt, 1 pair of shorts, and 2 pairs of socks--making it difficult or impossible to wear a fresh outfit every day, and, thanks to a well-hidden gambling problem or burgeoning methamphetamine addiction, find himself without sufficient funding to expand his inadequate wardrobe?
Nope. He has plenty of clothes, and has enough money to buy more, if needed.
When I pressed him with the most distressing question, in my opinion: "Why not wash your clothes every day? What's the point of wearing dirty ones?" his reaction could best be described as bafflement. He seemed to feel that it just didn't make sense not to wear the clothes two or three days in a row, since he works out alone and therefore no one is around to be offended by the smell. We sort of stared blankly at each other for a moment before I sputtered, "But...you have clean clothes nearby! Wouldn't you rather put on clean ones than dirty ones?" Again he seemed baffled by this. He felt that, logically, there was just no need to wear clean clothes if he was just going to get sweaty again anyway. How do you explain the value of hygiene to a grown man?
The whole thing is made even more vexing in light of a confession Jim made to me a few years ago. He told me that he has an odd fear of running out of deodorant, and that because of that, he keeps not just one can of deodorant at his house at all times, but several. He doesn't feel protected unless he knows he has two or three backups in place. At the time, this seemed odd and obsessive-compulsive to me, but also made me think Jim was just a clean guy who was paranoid about being seen as anything less than clean by others. Now that I know he not only wears filthy, stinking clothes to exercise in every morning, but more importantly, is wholly unashamed of this and is genuinely mystified as to why it might be seen as objectionable to anyone, I realize that Jim is, above all else, stone cold nuts. And a hack as a mentor.
Which brings me to the next issue: The position of mentor is now open. If there's anyone out there who feels suited to the task, please submit your qualifications and experience. Applicants must be intelligent, well-versed in a variety of common subjects as well as in useless trivia, and have a normal, healthy appreciation for hygiene.