Friday, April 30, 2010

beating a clothes horse

I am suffering from sticker shock on my resuscitated work life.

When I moved to Mexico last year, I gave away all of my suits, dress shirts, dress shoes, and assorted paraphernalia to the Salvation Army.

After all, I was not going to need them any more.  Was I?

Wool suits in the tropics would be laughably uncomfortable in my small fishing village by the sea.  Not to mention inappropriate.  As Belzig said in Raiders of the Lost Ark:  "You Americans.  Always overdressing for the wrong occasion."

I was tempted to keep the white linen suit I purchased in Greece in 1974.  What could be more tropical than showing up in the local fan-cooled watering hole dressed as Somerset Maugham? 

Unfortunately, the suit was tailored for a young man who had not yet gained Sidney Greenstreet proportions.  So, off it went to the Salvation Army closet.

My current wardrobe consists of khaki pants and polo shirts.  Not the costume of choice for a corporate desk lawyer -- unless he is links-bound.

I have not purchased any clothes in Mexico.  But I have haunted the lanes of our movable market that shows up in Melaque every Wednesday.  It has built certain expectations about the cost of clothing.

Now, I will admit that I have not seen any wool slacks or tailored silk shirts amongst the Melaque merchants.  But I was not prepared for the prices that I encountered in my little shopping excursion on Wednesday.

For a pair of dress shoes and two pairs of slacks, I paid the equivalent of two weeks rent in Mexico.  Adding four dress shirts, shot the total past rent for a full month.

And that will be enough for the six months I am here.

I am continually asked why I chose Mexico as my retirement home.  In the last month, I have encountered the two primary reasons I moved south: (1) general cost of living and (2) medical costs.

Based on my experiences in the past two weeks, I will really appreciate returning home -- to Mexico.


Tancho said...

Perfect reason to hop on the next flight down.
Maybe it's my old age or just being thrifty, buy when in the states I will swing by Goodwill stores, you would be surprised on the quality of clothes available for cheap....that way you won't feel bad to toss them. 3 piece suits, sport coats all kinds of stuff, some stuff still had tags in them....
See you in SMA....

Steve Cotton said...

Tancho -- If I buy anything more, I may need to follow your advice.

Anonymous said...

tancho and i think alike. i thought about thrift stores as i read your post. hopefully what you just bought will carry you through, but if not, you will be surprised at what you can find at thrift stores, good will is just one of many.

have a nice weekend!


Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- I wonder if I could go to the Salvation Army Thrift Store and buy back some of my clothes.

Tancho said...

Hopefully Steve, your old clothes that you donated no longer fit.
You did look pretty svelte in some of your photos down south.

Steve Cotton said...

Tancho -- They would hang rather loosely if I foundf any of my old togs. This restriction to crutches has caused my middle to soften up a bit. But I should be able to getr rid of it once I can walk a bit more.

Anonymous said...

Yup - what they said - we always visit the thrift stores when we go to the States - or visit Dillards and the like during their seasonal sell offs - get some of those 80 and 90 per cent off clothes and accessories hombre.


Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- Sorry about turning you into an "anonymous" poster. I pushed the wrong moderation button.

Rick said...


YES! A sweat stained Sidney Greenstreet suit for your new image - Fantastic -

It would look great with crutches and nobody would ever assume you broke your foot zip-lining but more likely helping a guy named (something like) Felipe Zapata rescue a senorita from kidnappers.

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't be surprised if you found some of your donated clothes. i've had that happen a few times. by the way, do you know how the term clothes horse came to be? just curious.

have a good weekend!


Steve Cotton said...

Rick -- For some reason, I never thought of Felipe as being the Quixote type. But, after giving it some thought, I suspect you are correct. Even though the Lady Zapata has far better credentials than Cervantes's Dulcinea.

Teresa -- I know this one. A "clothes horse" was originally a wooden rack designed for setting out clothes as well as drying them. The phrase then spread to mean a person who loves to display clothes.