The Best of Andy Rooney

If I could have three wishes, I'd use one to wish for a valet. My clothes are in such disarray that I've either got to throw them all away and start over, or stop everything else I'm doing and spend three days straightening them out and having them fixed, cleaned and pressed.

My standards of dress have deteriorated and I ought to do something before I become a real slob.

Presumably, my clothes are of no great interest to you, but let me tell you about them in the off chance you have some of the same problems.

Shoes: Since my feet stabilized at 8 1/2 EEE years ago, I haven't thrown away a pair of shoes. I hesitate to guess how many pairs I have, including old sneakers, loafers and slippers. Throwing away a pair of shoes that are still whole never occurs to me, even though I haven't worn some of them in 15 years. A valet would shine the leather ones and weed out the ones that don't fit or are out of date.

Socks: I buy my socks at a place that sells seconds of very good brands. Because I'm so impressed with all the money I'm saving when I buy a pair of imperfect socks for half price, I have a great many.

A valet would carefully hand-wash my hose, a word I never use. He would do them gently according to the instructions on the label when I bought them. He would use lukewarm water and soap without bleach. Being washed according to instructions is a luxury my socks have never enjoyed. Most of all, though, my man would make sure they came back to me two by two. My socks suffer a greater divorce rate than the marriages performed in Las Vegas.

Pants: There must be almost as many pairs of pants in my closet as there are shoes. The blessing is that the legs of pants are attached at the trunk so they don't get separated like socks.

My pants are everywhere. They drip from hooks and hangers in my closet. They cover hidden doorknobs and lie across the backs of chairs. Since Brian left home, I've moved my overflow into his closet. My clothes expand to fit the space available to hang them in.

First, I'd ask my valet to separate all my khaki pants. I have a lot of them. I try to keep one pair neat and clean for Saturdays when I'm out among people. But sooner or later, I wear them into the workshop because I'm too lazy to change. Inevitably, I get stain, varnish, or grease on them. Their cuffs--I always wear pants with cuffs--runneth over with sawdust and they have to be retired as public pants. My valet would set aside parts of my closet for good pants, and parts for work pants.

Further separating my trousers (a word I don't use any more often than I call socks "hose"), my valet would put the pants that fit me in one section, and the pants that are too small in another.

Suits and jackets: Every year, I buy a new sports jacket and, although I travel to work on a train inhabited mostly by salesmen and executives wearing pin-striped suits, I most often wear a sports jacket and gray flannel pants.

I'd ask my valet to go through my jackets and weed out the ones with worn elbows.

The President has a valet. He always looks nice. That's who I want to dress like when I grow up, the President.

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Sept. 24, 1985.)

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