As we were leaving for an annual bluegrass party, hubby glanced at me and remarked, "Oh. You're wearing that."

"What's wrong with it? You told me you like this shirt."

"I do like it. I just didn't know you were actually wearing it."

A great deal of consideration had gone into my outfit. Every year, in an attempt to look better than I actually do, I tend to wear clothing that is not my typical style. I spend the entire evening in total discomfort, trying to remember to suck in my belly while teetering on heels. This year, I decided there was no need to put on airs, so, I chose denim shorts, leather sandals, and a medium blue, cotton pullover with an unusual neckline. I was going to be comfortable, casual and able to enjoy myself.

But hubby's off-hand remark gnawed at my confidence, so I questioned further.

"What's wrong with this outfit? Do you think I should change? Is there something in particular that you don't like? The shirt? The shorts? The sandals?"

He tried to allay my fears by telling me I looked "fine," but men do not understand the damage a remark like that can make.

I went on a bit of a tangent. "I've been wearing this outfit all summer, and you've never said a negative word. And besides, what makes you the expert? You wore the same ugly pineapple shirt five years in a row, and finally replaced it with that ridiculous gray t-shirt you're wearing now. Stupid 3X t-shirt that claims, 'It's all muscle.' You wore it out and had to mend it. Who mends a freaking t-shirt?"

"I'm planning to stop at Wal-mart so I can buy a new one," he glumly replied.

"You go right ahead and buy a new shirt, but it's going to have creases in it, and everyone will know you stopped at Wal-mart on the way."

We searched high and low for a decent 3X shirt and finally settled on one with crinkled armpits. It was then I remembered the party hosts own an array of pets, so we took a quick detour through the pharmacy for some allergy meds.

As I stood trying to decide between 12 or 24 hour Claritin, hubby began a closer examination of my shirt. He pulled the fabric away from my back and rubbed it between his fingers. He twisted his face into his "deep in thought" expression and smoothed the fabric back down. I turned to face him, and he rubbed his hand across the neckline.

"WHAT?!" I shouted as quietly as possible.

"I think it's that the fabric is sort of balled up from being washed so much," he analyzed. "I don't know....." and then trailed off.

Taking the fabric back into his hand he bent forward for a closer look. Suddenly a voice loudly inquired, "Do you like it or not?"

Being the only ones in the aisle, we'd assumed that our conversation was somewhat private. However, we had unwittingly garnered the attention of the pharmacist. She continued, "When I first saw you I thought, 'That's so sweet the way he's rubbing her back,' but then I realized you are seriously checking out her shirt. So, I have to ask, do you like it or not?"

"I can't decide," hubby replied.

I rolled my eyes and explained the situation. She assured me that I looked very nice. Of course, she had to say that because she's a good and decent person, and good, decent people are never honest about these sorts of things.

Upon arriving at the party, hubby immediately strapped on his guitar and successfully disguised his crinkled armpits. The hostess, who dresses in a very fashionable, grown-up Pippi Longstocking style, commented, "That's an interesting shirt. The top of it looks like the potholders I made for my grandma. You know, the ones that you weave on a little plastic loom?"

Great. Perhaps next year I can weave an entire dress.