Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My New Olive-drab Corduroy Jeans

Alice bought me a new pair of corduroy jeans. I like everything about them - the fit, the feel, the details. The olive drab color complements some other recent wardrobe additions and gives me a nice self-esteem boost, reminding me how far I have come since the bitter day when I vowed I’d never again let that Army color touch my skin.

Yes, I am letting that color touch my skin. We finished our business four decades ago, the Army and me; I made it free without shooting anybody, thank goodness. Militaristic taint or no, I am enjoying these sharp new corduroys.

Corduroy. Beautiful word. Strange amalgam of consonants C, D, and R. Those Os. That ambiguous Y. So what if “heart of a king” - coeur du roy - turns out to be just my garbled version of the folk etymology; it tells a truth.

I will always remember the corduroy roads of my youth, me along for the ride on holiday from school as salesman Dad drove us bumping over the logs deep into the swamps of south Louisiana, on a mission to change the way they drill oil wells with new tools based on revolutionary technology, one rig, one skeptical drilling engineer at a time.

Our family had been in oil-- the greasy, blue-collar bottom, not the big-money top, not even Dad’s sales success could lift us that high -- since my paternal grandfather and his brothers had worked together as a drilling crew in the oil fields of Pennsylvania early in the 20th century. When black gold gushed in Kansas the band of brothers followed the work west. On the other side of the family my maternal grandfather - I carry his name - helped drill the first successful oil well in Western Colorado. I represented my generation in the “oil patch.”  On my first paid job at age twelve, I scrubbed and painted drill-collar thread protectors in the Lafayette, Louisiana tool yard of the company that employed my father. Seven years later I was cooking breakfast and cleaning up after forty roughnecks and roustabouts, as Galley Hand on Chevron Mobile Rig No. 9, a drilling platform one hundred twenty miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, a two-hour flight from Houma on the Louisiana coast.

I might as well have oil instead of blood pulsing through my body. That’s why, when the 2010 British-Petroleum oil spill poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, I felt personally responsible. But, I managed to get over that; everybody’s trashing Mother Earth.

I like the feel of these cords under my fingers, rough like those corduroy roads. And I like the way these hiphuggers snuggle my butt, how they tuck up around the adult diaper and hold it firmly in place. Whether I like it or not, the diaper helps me remember that my desire won't stop the mess out there any more than it will in here, up close and personal.  But,  I can still dress it up sharp and do it in style, in my new olive-drab corduroy jeans.

--Doug Millison, 22 January 2014

2 comments:

halfassnovelist said...

Very nicely composed, Doug. Nice and tight like a snug pair of cords. I remember a pair I had in high school, softly ribbed like velvet. I really liked those jeans. You write a good essay, not too long. Interesting. Funny. You should collect them. Good job.

Doug Millison said...

Thanks, Steve. It's about the same length as the essays I was editing last fall.