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I recently attended three end of the school year concerts/performances. I won’t lie to you, sitting on rock hard bleachers listening to beginning musicians blow air through brass instruments was not something I was dying to do. Some things are a duty.
My son, Chuck, informed me about a week out from the first of these concerts, that he required black slacks, a white shirt, a tie, and a pair of dress shoes. With this fashion menu in mind, we headed for a local department store.
Chuck was insistent that we purchase quality items. I can’t blame him for this; between myself and his 21 year old sister, he has had lots of fashion input over the years and he knows the difference between cheap and good. Hence, we went to a store where we could find some decent, yet not astronomically priced items.
We began by looking for slacks. Much to my surprise, Chuck turned out to be uncharacteristically picky about which slacks were appropriate for the occasion. Generally speaking, I go to the store, pick something up for him, and he wears it. This was a formula that worked well for his older brother at this age and has, up to now, worked well with Chuck. Suddenly, it didn’t work so well anymore.
I suggested to him that one pair of black pants looked pretty much like another. He gave me a look which suggested that I was woefully ignorant. It’s the one where one eyebrow is slightly raised and his expression is highly skeptical. I suppose that I can’t complain too much; I do the one eyebrow thing myself and one of the three of my offspring was bound to have inherited it. I have only myself to blame.
Chuck ended up trying on 6 pairs of pants. I was relegated to standing outside the changing room fetching pants for him to try on and carrying off the rejects. When I asked him if I could take a look, he informed me politely that my opinion was not necessary; he had it under control. Good thing I live to serve.
When we had finally decided on a pair of slacks that were adequate, we went looking for a shirt and tie. I figured that this would be relatively easy. How many variations are there on a white, button-down dress shirt? He spent a great deal of time examining shirts and checking labels. I found this rather intriguing.
“Chuck,” I asked. “What exactly are you looking for? Maybe I can help you out.”
Chuck continued to check out labels. “I am looking for an Italian name or Ralph Polo.”
Excuse me? Where, in the name of Versace, did that come from? Italian designers? Ralph Polo? What has this kid been watching or reading behind my back? I was shocked into complete silence. This is not something that happens to me often.
“What are you talking about?” I asked stupidly.
“I’m talking about clothes that are stylish and attractive, Mom.” He answered with exaggerated patience.
“I get that. I’m wondering how you know about clothes that are stylish and attractive. You’re eleven.” I felt a brain aneurism coming on.
“Being eleven doesn’t mean I’m stupid, ignorant, or don’t care about looking sharp.” He pointed out.
“When you ask to go to the magazine section of the grocery store every time we shop, I assume that you are looking at the comic books.” I stated with horror.
Chuck gave a heavy sigh. “I am, Mom. I wouldn’t be caught dead looking at fashion magazines.”
Thank goodness for that, I thought. I’m not really certain why I was so relieved. It just didn’t seem like something an eleven year old boy should do.
“So, how do you know so much about fashion?” I asked, helping him to button up the Ralph Polo shirt he was trying on.
“Oh, I don’t know.” He said with what I suspected was extreme sarcasm.
“Maybe because I have a brother who is 11 years older than I am, a sister who is 10 years older who nags me about how I look and what I wear, and a mother with a wardrobe large enough to sink a ship.”
“Hey, a lot of my clothes are over 20 years old.” I pointed out indignantly.
He rolled his eyes dramatically. “Yes, Mother, I know that. I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m just pointing out that you have a highly developed sense of style that is kind of hard to ignore.”
If he had made this statement 24 hours earlier, I would have not been particularly concerned with his assessment of my fashion sense. Now, since I had discovered his vast knowledge of designer fashion, I was definitely paying attention.
Chuck was now carefully examining the various ties on display. He mentioned that it was a shame that the boy’s ties were not as stylish and attractive as the selection in the men’s section. He wasn’t wrong, either.
He found a handsome pair of black dress shoes; classically designed and quite elegant, in the shoe section. I didn’t even bother to offer him advice. It certainly didn’t seem necessary.
The night of the concert, he dressed carefully, taking time to buff his shoes and spending more time on combing his hair than I have ever seen him spend previously. I was proud to accompany him to the performance. It turned out to be an impressive display of musical talent for kids who had only begun to learn in October. The School District is big on music and has some marvelous teachers, which pleases me. Chuck looked dashing and I had a great time, but the bleachers were as hard as ever.
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