my in-laws are very well-dressed, in an upscale sort of way. my affinity for being outside in the mountains or the woods (as opposed to a golf course) baffles them. With over a decade and a half married to their daughter, i love them and freely call them mom and dad, just like my own parents. Yet we recognize that we are cut from different cloth.
for a brief time last summer, they decided to cross over into my world. sort of. we took a joint family vacation to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. i don't know what possessed them to do this, but i was grateful. the hiking was wonderful, but four-mile strolls with 200-500 foot vertical gains became an odyssey of epic proportions, prompting (a) some ribbing directed at me for carrying a large daypack with extra layers, hats, and rain shells, and (b) much misery about the indignities of uneven footing and very little love for the glacier-cut lakes and towering peaks (i had a morning to myself to do some real climbing, thankfully). we rafted the snake river with our kids, they did a 'river float' down a gentler section that they found terribly boring. oh - when a sudden lightning/rain/hail storm rolled through during a hike, they did belatedly realize that my large daypack had a purpose, and that my immediate family was the only part of our large group who were ready for it.
otherwise, we tend to dwell in their world. when i purchase gifts for them, i choose items they will like - think Nordstrom or Brooks Brothers. when they purchase gifts for me, they choose items they like. hm.
which brings me to the source of my post today, the belts. my holiday gift last year was a leather belt. my birthday gift this year was a fabric belt adorned with the emblem of an exclusive country club. i wore it once, to a family event, prompting much appreciation. at least give me props for knowing how to earn street cred with mom and dad. my gift for the holidays this year is.....an unbelievably expensive alligator skin belt (they left the price on). while my profession requires business attire during the week, it is what amounts to a uniform. the last thing i care to purchase is high end dress shirts, trousers, suits, belts, and so on. and i really don't want to think about killing a gator to decorate my pants.
oh, the gear i could buy, if only i could bring the belt back for cash. alas, the alligator is already dead, and i would quickly follow if i were foolhardy enough to return it. (actually, my wife would kill me, then my in-laws would chain my lifeless body to their Lexus and drag me around the parking lot of their country club).
you may recall the scene in Annie Hall when Diane Keaton's parents have Woody Allen over to dinner. They look at him and see an orthodox jew; he looks at them and sees a Christmas ham. when i look at this belt, i see the polartec neoshell stretch jacket that i would love to try out this winter. but, as the good son, i will keep the peace and keep the belt.