1965 – a “hanging offence”

Dear Horrie and Otis

I am writing this letter to you both, because at some time in the future; you too will be embarrassed by your father as you reach puberty.

My father had many attributes; some good, some not so, but one thing is certain; sensitivity was not high on the list.

One day, hopefully, you will read this and laugh at Grumpy’s embarrassment; safe in the knowledge that your fathers possessed considerably more sensitivity.

I was just over thirteen, home for holidays after first term of second year at the Farmers School; my eyesight had never been good, but it was now time; we faced the glasses question.

Wearing glasses in Grumpy’s family was sign of weakness; glasses were something old people and wimps wore; you were not allowed to be a wimp in my family!

I had been to Wagga with my mother early in the holidays to have my eyes tested, the results were not surprising; I think I was minus 6 in one eye and minus 7 in the other; no wonder I had problems reading the blackboard!

We were due to go back a week later to be fitted with my new glasses and it was decided that on this trip, we would also buy me my first pair of long pants.

My father had to go to Wagga on business so he was assigned the task.

The hour’s trip was spent in almost total silence; my Dad and I did not have a lot in common, so this was pretty normal.

David Jones was the store of choice for my search for a pair of trousers and, much to my chagrin; the “old man” insisted on being part of the selection process.

There were three of us crammed into a tiny fitting room with a selection of trousers; deemed to be of interest.

The shop assistant and Dad watched as I tried several of the conservative selection and finally we got to the one pair, I had been allowed to choose.

I pulled the pants on and liked what I saw in the mirror, the shop assistant fussed around with the length and the waist while my father watched on.

“I like these” I managed to say, before the old man started fiddling with them; tugging them this way and that.

“What side do you dress on, son?” he barked

“What?” I had never been asked that question before.

“What side do you dress to, boy?”

“What?” I heard my squeaky voice repeat, as I saw the look of frustration, I knew so well; appear on my father’s face.

“What side do your balls hang?” he thundered at me; the words echoed around the small change room.

“They don’t hang!” I managed to squeak.

My face could have burned the paint from the walls, I counted the tiles on the floor and the Sales Assistant tried to shrivel into the tiny space behind the door.

I can’t remember what happened after this exchange, all I do remember is the weak smile of the shop assistant, as he breathed a sigh of relief when we left with the trousers under my arm.

Getting my glasses should have been easy after this, but the fitting took a turn towards the farcical as Dad questioned the glasses Mum and I had selected, before admitting defeat and muttering, “you look like an owl”

The trip home was tense.

The owl with no balls; sat sullenly in the farthest corner of the car, dreading the response from Jerry and Terry when they saw the new me.

Boys; we are all embarrassed by our Fathers at times. Don’t worry too much; we do get to laugh about it later.

Sometimes; much later!!

Love Ya

Grumpy

 

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