below the belt
There are things I hate to buy. Window coverings, for starters. I hate curtains and I hate blinds, so my neighbors see a lot more of me than they probably should. Bras: ugh. Why aren’t they government subsidized? I wear the same three bras I bought in 2008 and get panicky at the thought of having to buy new ones. But most of all, I hate to buy belts. They’re always more expensive than you think they should be (read: free), and there’s little upside–no one’s going to notice your belt, no matter how ugly or amazing it is.
So when I find a great belt, it really means something. I bought a peacock blue belt at J. Crew about a year ago, and I loved it as I had never loved a belt before. It was an interesting blue and matched with nothing but somehow added a certain je ne sais quoi to everything I wore it with. You can see it, in better times, here.
About a week ago, I realized the belt was missing. It wasn’t on the floor, it wasn’t stuck in a pair of pants, and it most definitely was not on my belt rack. So I interrogated all three guys about it. I suspected that my toddler may have hidden it somewhere, but when I put Tate under a heat lamp and grilled him, he stared at me stone-faced, probably wondering what “blue” is. When I strapped Finn into his carseat and gave him the stink-eye through my rearview mirror, Finn copped to having seen the belt but swore he put it back on the belt rack after he’d last used it to lasso his brother. As for Tom, he denied any knowledge of the belt’s whereabouts with a mien that suggested that I was a shallow wench for caring so much about something so inconsequential as a belt.
And then, two days ago, as I was putting away some laundry, there it was, on the back of the belt rack that I’d checked at least ten times. Except, it looked different. It looked like this.
Here’s the thing: I have eyes, and a brain. So my brain recollects that the belt was not hanging from the rack the last ten times I checked. And my eyes perceive that the belt was put through some serious trauma. When I first saw the mangled belt, my blood pressure spiked so quickly that I actually felt my forehead get hot. What was Tom thinking? That I wouldn’t notice that my missing belt was suddenly in its rightful spot after apparently being put through a hot wash cycle and long tumble dry? When I confronted him about it, Tom played dumb for about six sweaty, pathetic seconds before adding insult to injury by suggesting that if I hadn’t left the belt on the floor, he wouldn’t have accidentally put it in the wash with my clothes. Duh! Forget the fact that I don’t want him to wash my clothes, EVER, and that, despite that fact, he keeps doing so, and ruining everything I own. Forget too that he managed to 1) put the belt in the wash, 2) remove it from the washer, and 3) transfer it to the dryer–a three-step process during which any normal human being might notice a blue leather belt, far away from home and lost in a rough part of town.
But forget the belt. Because this post isn’t really about my stupid belt. It’s about two truths regarding arguments. First, it never goes well to blame the victim. It doesn’t work in the courtroom, and it doesn’t work at home. And two: sometimes you have to stand there, with your beloved, mangled belt hanging from your hand, and realize that no belt is worth the drama.
There will be other belts. But for me, there’s only one Tom. And he’s kind to do the laundry, no matter how terribly it turns out. So it goes.