We’re going out of town soon, and the Boy needs some clothes. My son’s a goddam oddity when it comes to dressing.
Where the other 15-year-olds are wearing those old man plaid or checked shorts that I used to laugh at when I was fifteen, or they’re wearing the oversized silky basketball shorts, or they’re low-riding and showing their underwear in either ridiculously baggy or ridiculously skinny jeans (low-riding skinny jeans are my favourite…you just can’t walk in those, so it’s a lot of fun to watch) or, though dwindling in number, there’s still some die-hard goths out there with the black and the mascara and the nail polish and the hair and the tattoos. I have no problem with any of it.
Well, okay, I’ve got a real problem with the asshole that works at Taco Bell and I get to stare at his purple underwear because his goddam jeans are hanging south of his anus. Do that on your own time, not while you’re making my gordita crunch, dude. It’s just gross.
Anyway, I have no problem with it. But then there’s the Boy, who always carves his own path. Hot summer weather, and he’s in long jeans, socks, a t-shirt and a long-sleeved, button-down shirt that’s actually button-downed. I mean, seriously. Heat stroke much?
But that’s the Boy. Fair enough, so off we go as a family to buy him some new jeans and shirts. Now, the Boy and I have his clothes shopping down to a fine, manly art. We know the exact brand, style, waist and leg length for jeans. So it’s a case of finding and grabbing. Maybe three minutes.
As for shirts, I have a decent sense of what he likes, and he’s vocal if he doesn’t. So it’s a quick process as well. I think our record is six pairs of pants, four shirts, four t-shirts, socks, underwear and new shoes in twenty minutes. And that’s three different stores.
But last night, we were with the Wife, who was in a particular mood. And she was looking for clothes too. God help us. I’ve already noted my shopping miseries with her in great detail here. What I’ll tell you here about last night was a sense of deja vu that I experienced.
About nineteen years ago, the Wife and I entered the hospital to have our first child. We went in at around six in the morning Saturday June 12th. Over the ensuing 36 hours, I watched at least ten other couples come in and get rolled out as a new family of three. I think there were four couples from our Lamaze class. They’d come in, I’d be in the hall running an errand, getting a drink or something, and there’d be some greetings between the fathers-to-be. “Hey!” they’d say. “How long have you been here?”
I learned to dread that question. Then, a couple of hours later, out they’d go, throwing looks of commiseration over their shoulder as I stared wistfully at their new baby, wondering when mine would come.
Last night was like that. The Wife went into the changeroom with a small mountain of clothes. Other guys would line up and wait as their women-folk went in to try on their selections. Those other women would then come back out and they’d be on their way, the guys throwing looks of commiseration over their shoulder as I stared wistfully at their new purchases, wondering when my wife would come out with hers.
Instead, she would occasionally pop out, have a chat with the clerk, who would then go and fetch more clothes.
I saw at least six women come in after my wife and leave before she did. When she finally finished, the Boy and I fairly bolted from the store.
Anyway, finally it was his turn. We grabbed his pants. The Wife went of to the entirely wrong brand name and had no clue that he liked relaxed fit. She slowed the proceedings considerably, but we tried to make her feel like part of the team. We finally got the pants sorted out, then it was time for shirts.
Now, the Boy’s grown a solid since we’ve bought him shirts. So there was a little guesswork happening with neck size and sleeve length.
We found a shirt that we figured would fit and had him try it on. I’m going to try and paint as accurate a picture here as I can, because I know it’s going to be a challenge to visualize this.
When I put on a shirt, I slide one arm in, grip the shirt, pull the second arm hole within range, plunge in the second arm and shrug it into place.
Not the Boy apparently.
He did some weirdass Karate Kid leaping-pelican-with-a-broken-wing-and-suffering-from-post-traumatic-stress-disorder move. Instead of dipping the first arm in, he shot the arm upward into a still-mostly-folded shirt. Then, with the first arm almost straight up, the shirt mostly jammed into a flat, yet slightly expanding glob of fabric, he sort of hooked his other arm into the tangle and pushed.
This shirt was black. Picture a 6’2″ kid with both arms trapped above his head in a black cowling shape. Now imagine him holding the pose and dropping his voice to a gravelly whisper and saying, “I’m Batman!”
Now imagine me giggling ferociously and squirting tears from my eyes.
The Wife’s furiously yanking at the tangle of material, trying to free him from his ad hoc batwing handcuffs, to no avail. He’s pushing and thrusting and flapping.
Now, imagine him, still in this ridiculous arms-over-the-head pose, struggling vainly, then crying out, “What sorcery is this?!”
Now imagine me not being able to breathe from laughter.
I love that kid.