As a little boy growing up in Gatton I remember my father used to stay up after the rest of the family had gone to bed and watch TV by himself. On occasion I would creep out of my bedroom to join him on the couch and fall asleep watching late night TV.
On one such occasion I slunk out of my bedroom, the only light in the house was that from the TV screen, I climbed into the old couch and snuggled up to my father. He was watching “Deliverance”. We made it to the “Duelling Banjos” scene before the creeping menace of the film began to unnerve me. I pressed myself into my father and looked up at him.
“Daddy… you’ll never take me to that place, will you?”
My father gently put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close.
“Davey… we live in Gatton.”
That confused me. To me Gatton was not a desperate backwater inhabited by sinister hillbillies. Gatton was a warm and loving town where lived my warm and loving family who tended their warm and loving potato farms (which grew warm and loving potatoes).
My father, having grown up in the sophisticated metropolis that was Brisbane in the 1960s had a different perspective of my warm and loving home town.
The sophisticated country girl will discover that many men have this same confusing relationship with particular articles of their clothing. It might be a pair jeans or a shirt that her man has grown up with and still loves. Sincerely believing that, like a fine wine, the article of clothing only improves with age. However, in the eyes of the sophisticated country girl, the article of clothing is no more than a squalid rag that is either well out of fashion or was never in fashion and is better placed in the company of a backwater hillbilly than worn by the object of her affections.
The owner of the warm and loving clothing will have a different perspective. Having a warm and loving article of clothing ensures you have something to wear every day for almost any occasion. It is the piece of clothing you put on Sunday morning to wear to church and don’t take off for the rest of the week. It is so comfortable you can even sleep in it. Over time the clothing will age. It will gain holes, stains and frayed edges which only serve to make it more comfortable and endear it to their owner even more.
A man’s warm and loving clothing is a ubiquitous part of their character. Losing the clothing or being forced to wear something different is horrifying. Your friends may not recognise you or worse; they might question your sexuality.
I discovered during my late teens, women will try to separate men from their warm and loving clothing. I initially thought it was out of jealousy but I now believe that women may possess a disproportionately high sense of the aesthetic and cleanliness.
My favourite article of clothing during my late teens was my warm and loving red flannelette shirt. I would not only wear my red flannelette shirt every day but also to sleep at night. It was so practical; all I had to do was jump out of bed, pull on a pair of jeans and I was ready for the day. This continued until one morning I walked past my mother and she smelt my shirt and then my hair and told me I needed to have a shower. While I was in the shower she said she would wash my red flannelette shirt.
I longed for my shirt all day and night until the next morning when my father found me searching through the laundry and asked me what I was looking for.
“My red flannelette shirt.”
Oh, your mum told me to take that with a load of other old clothes and dump them in the charity bin at the church.”
My heart skipped a beat and I quickly ran up the road to the local Church. The Charity Bin was in the yard out the front of the rectory. I opened the trap door at the top of the bin and tried to reach down but it was too deep and I could feel nothing. So I opened the door as far as I could and dropped the top half of my body into the bin. Still nothing. I tried to reach a bit further but then I dropped into bin. The trap door closed behind me and I was trapped inside the charity bin. The bin was black and damp and the stench was horrifying; someone had urinated into the Charity Bin.
I rummaged around inside the bin until I found my red flannelette shirt. I beat on the side of the bin and called out for help. Thankfully the pastor heard my cries from inside the charity bin and came running from the rectory to help.
The pastor was a young man with kind eyes and a beard. He unlocked the back door of the charity bin and I tumbled out and lay on my back on the grass holding my red flannelette shirt to my chest. I looked up at the pastor who leant over me looking concerned.
“Son, if you need help there are services in the community we can put you in contact with.”
“No, I’m fine. My mum threw my red flannelette shirt into your charity bin… I was just trying to get it back.”
I took my red flannelette shirt home. From now on it would be hidden under my bed.
My girlfriend of the time was a young Italian woman who was a PHD student in Agricultural Science at the University of Queensland. We woke one Sunday morning to find a lack of milk in the house so my Italian girlfriend quickly pulled my warm and loving red flannelette shirt out from under the bed and put it on to wear down to the corner shop. In an instant my Italian girlfriend was transformed into a renaissance angel. She was Botticelli’s Venus with flowing auburn hair and green eyes in a red flannelette shirt. My Italian girlfriend slowly lifted an arm to her face, smelt the sleeve and said in a quiet matter-of-fact voice;
“This is most revolting godforsaken shirt I have ever worn in my whole life…”
My Italian girlfriend quickly took off the shirt and threw it back under the bed but the power of the transformation has stayed with me.
The sophisticated country girl knows and understands the importance and power of warm and loving clothing to the men in her life. The sophisticated country girl will grit her teeth and not chastise her father when he wears his warm and loving shirt to a family BBQ in her back yard. The sophisticated country girl knows she is able to reduce her large and gruff younger brother to tears by wiping down a wet dog with the tatty old rugby jersey she finds under his bed.
Most importantly the sophisticated country girl knows that to endear herself to her country boy all she has to do reach under the bed and pull out his warm and loving shirt and put it on. Thus the sophisticated country girl bewitches her country boy and will forever hold his heart in her hands.