Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

I love you, old bathrobe, but there's a younger one...

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I don't want to sound mysterious, but I am a man in transition.

I am undergoing a major change, a mutation from one phase of my life to another.

This is hard for me to say, but I am poised to swap my old green bathrobe, which my wife made for me many years ago, for a brand-new blue bathrobe, which my wife gave me for Christmas this year.

If you happen to be a guy of my gender, you will know how difficult, how emotionally draining it is to part ways with an old bathrobe -- a truly masculine garment that has stood by you through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through more Grey Cups and Stanley Cups and daytime game shows than you can count -- and replace it with a brand-new bathrobe, a complete and utter sartorial stranger.

Old-school guys like me become physically and emotionally attached to care-worn bathrobes. It's the same story with our lucky underpants. They bring us comfort and don't judge us for our slovenly ways or our less-than-Olympian physiques.

I am not ashamed to say it -- I love my old ratty green bathrobe. It is easily the single piece of clothing I wear the most. Whether I'm sitting at the home computer racking my brain for professionally amusing thoughts, chatting on the radio with local talk-show personalities or reclining on the couch in the den to watch sports highlights on TV, this green bathrobe has been my wardrobe item of choice for more than a decade.

Technically speaking, there's not much of this bathrobe left to look at. After years of hard service warming and protecting my valuable anatomical components, it has been reduced to about a dozen or so fraying shards of terry towel that are cinched together at my rapidly expanding waist by a threadbare green belt.

Imagine the kind of shredded bathrobe the Incredible Hulk would wear and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Even in this decayed state, however, it serves me well. When my college-age daughter forgets that I am the ruler of our domestic domain, I threaten to humiliate her when her friends come over by answering the door in what remains of my green bathrobe.

"Hello," I tell her I will proudly proclaim, my tattered garment flapping in the breeze, "I am Kayleigh's dad!"

But this Christmas, my wife gave me a replacement bathrobe, a fuzzy blue one. It is a fine robe, other than the fact it wants to usurp the role of my beloved old robe.

Unlike my old robe, the new one is extremely short, meaning it would be perfect for someone built along the lines of the Mayor of Munchkinland, but for a tall, husky guy like me, it threatens to leave one's (how shall we say this?) dangly bits drifting in the wind, so to speak.

So I am feeling somewhat bittersweet about this transition. You know how it is when, for years, you go to the same bar and you become friends with the bartender and he knows just what you like to drink and never annoys you with stupid jokes or blathers on about politics, then one day you walk in and instead of your regular bartender, there's a stranger behind the bar, a guy you've never met before.

Eventually, you'll probably be friends with the new bartender, too, but that's not the point. The point is your life has changed forever and, well, it takes a little time to get used to the notion that you have to leave the past behind and embrace something new, something different.

I guess I'm saying that some day soon, with manly tears in my eyes, I will put on my new blue bathrobe and face up to the fact that nothing stays the same forever.

Because, in case I didn't mention it already, my wife also gave me a new wallet for Christmas.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2013 A2

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