Since Lauri and I were married, we have had an ongoing battle. A dispute of sorts. I like wearing a particular pair of athletic shorts to bed. When we were first married, I had a pair from high school that I still wore and that I loved. They were cotton and, oh, so soft. I wore them for a decade. If they weren’t in my drawer at bedtime, or, more likely, on the floor or a chair in the bedroom where I left them, I felt something akin to panic. How could I sleep? Shakespeare’s Polonius said, “Apparel oft proclaim the man,” and those shorts proclaimed that I was ready to slumber.

“What’s wrong?” Lauri would ask knowingly, rolling over in bed as I groped about in the darkness.

“Where are my shorts?”

“I washed them.”

“You washed them?!” I would ask in disbelief. “They weren’t dirty.”

“Larry, they haven’t been washed in weeks.”

“I sleep in them. I don’t Jazzercise in them.”

“Well, they needed to be washed.”

“Please tell me they are dry.”

Over the years, this scenario has played out many, many times. Only moments ago, in fact. (So I write with added indignation!)

That first beloved pair were threadbare when they mysteriously — are you thinking what I’m thinking? — disappeared. I grieved the loss of them. Sure, Lauri was right and you could see through them. But who cares? They were for sleeping. It took years to reach that level of softness — and I’m all about softness. Greatness in shorts (and shirts and jeans and khakis) doesn’t happen off-the-rack. It takes patience and dedication. It’s like aging a fine wine or a cheese (which go well together, by the way). My favorite apparel is older than my kids and softer than … things that are really, really soft. (It’s late and I’m drawing a blank here.)

So I searched until I found a similar pair and wore them for the next decade. They faced a similar mysterious demise. I’m now on pair no. 3. So far, none has rivaled my first pair in greatness, but this pair has a chance. They are like Nick Saban to the records of Bear Bryant: not there yet, but knockin’ on the door. It’s about this time in the life of my shorts, however, that Lauri “accidentally” throws them away or burns them. (How do you accidentally burn a man’s favorite shorts, I ask you?!) 

I have similar shirts. Flannel, preferably. One of those disappeared after 20 years, too! I’m not one to give up on a garment just because it’s old. On the contrary, as I said before, the best ones get better with age. Other men tell me similar stories of clothing disappearing. One guy actually told me he found a favorite pair of jeans in a family garage sale. He was so thrilled, he was happy to buy them back!

To the young husbands out there I offer this advice: keep an eye (a hidden camera?) on your favorite clothing items, and never put them in the wash or you run the risk of never seeing them again.

Larry Alex Taunton is an author, cultural commentator, and freelance columnist contributing to USA TODAYFox NewsFirst ThingsThe AtlanticCNN, and The American Spectator.  In addition to being a frequent radio and television guest, he is also the author of The Grace  Effect and The Gospel Coalition Arts and Culture Book of the Year, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. You can subscribe to his blog at