Thursday, August 21, 2008

Curmudgeon gains -- and loses -- "man cred"

Younger Daughter informs me that young men in their late teens and early 20s do not buy 'nice' clothing unescorted.

Nice, in this context, means shirts with actual collars and pants bearing neither a "swoosh" (or equivalent logo) nor a drawstring.

Such clothes are to be chosen by the young man's mother or by the young man's girlfriend.

Middle Son (who did survive his 21st birthday, by the way) was in general accord with this assessment. Both he and Younger Daughter assured me, by way of example, that Oldest Son's mysterious girlfriend undoubtedly selects all of his 'nice' clothes.

I was skeptical. Oldest Son tolerates stores the way most people tolerate root canal without anesthesia. Still... he has been almost human in his dealings with us we first learned of the young lady's existence. I was forced to acknowledge that this might possibly be true.

This conversation with Younger Daughter and Middle Son arose because of expedition that day to buy some 'nice' things for school. He has no steady girlfriend (that we know of) and Long Suffering Spouse (to her eternal credit) does not think of shopping as entertainment. My wife had absolutely no intention of buying something for Middle Son at which he might turn up his nose and (quite unlike the girlfriend situation, as you must expect) the young man can never, under any circumstances be seen shopping with his mother.

It was therefore Younger Daughter accompanied Middle Son on this outing and selected the 'nice' things from stores like "Express" or "AĆ©ropostale." (In doing so, Younger Daughter both violated, and in a broader sense, validated and expanded upon, the rule she had explained to me.) Younger Daughter was particularly amused that, at one store, the young (male) sales assistant was altogether too willing to attend to Middle Son's needs. He hovered by the changing room, offering to bring in different styles or sizes.

Middle Son came out of the dressing room at one point, ostensibly to obtain his sister's opinion on a particular item... but his real purpose was to hiss at her, "Don't leave me." Younger Daughter had wanted to check out the women's fashions, but she found this predicament sufficiently amusing to induce her to stay.

Ultimately Middle Son selected a pair of jeans without holes. This point was particularly emphasized by Younger Daughter, who appeared to be slightly scandalized by it.

I thought it must be patently obvious that new pants must be purchased without holes and said so. "Besides," I asked, "if you just needed jeans, why didn't you just go to KMart?"

This -- I learned later -- boosted my "man cred" considerably in the eyes of my children.

But I only learned it... when I lost it... which I did later that same evening.

It was Gene Kelly night on Turner Classic Movies and somewhere after the five millionth showing of "An American in Paris" and the eight millionth showing of "Singing in the Rain" came "Cover Girl," a Gene Kelly musical I'd never seen. Co-starring Rita Hayworth. And a young Phil Silvers.

Why, Phil Silvers was so young he had hair on the top of his head. Some of it may have actually been his.

Naturally, I had to watch.

Not only did I watch, I enjoyed the movie.

Middle Son and Younger Daughter were quite disapproving. Whatever "man cred" I had gained in my KMart remark, they told me, was, because of this movie selection, irretrievably lost.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


Fran said...

Easy come, easy go!


Toadstool said...

All Gene needed was an update on the music, a little overlaying by David Elsewhere and to be part of a TV advert to bring him back to 'cred'