We spent the holiday with my family in Michigan. We weren’t sure we’d be able to make it. The Weather Channel was calling for the next weather apocalypse to sweep across Pennsylvania just about the time we were planning to head across the border. Pennsylvania is a large state, with lots of hilly terrain and very few rest areas, which makes it lovely to drive through as long as you don’t have to stop.
This was not the Dude’s first Thanksgiving rodeo. He knew what to expect. First, there would be dinner out at a restaurant or two, where he must dress accordingly, which doesn’t include shorts and a hoodie. Second, it would be colder than all getout, which means one needs something more substantial than shorts and a hoodie. Third, we were driving into a freaking snowstorm, and if we got stranded, he’d want to put something over his shorts and hoodie.
We set off in the late afternoon, and hit snow about an hour and a half into the trip. We’d missed the worst of it, but we hit small squalls from time to time, and strong winds buffeted the car throughout the trip. I watched the snow swirl on the roadway and a little voice in my head said I don’t remember him wearing a coat, do you? I turned to the Dude. “You did pack a coat, didn’t you?”
Cue the crickets.
“It’s okay, I have a hoodie and a beanie.” He smiles and holds up his ski hat.
“We’re driving into a blizzard, and you opted not to bring a coat?”
He got all defensive. “I assumed you’d pack it for me.”
Forehead, meet palm.
My husband said, “Did you pack underwear? I didn’t pack that for you either.”
My husband and I launched into the typical parental lecture–what if we broke down, we’re driving through mountains, there are no rest stops or towns, there are no exits, for heaven’s sake, etc. He was resolute that we should have taken care of this for him, and it was no big deal anyway because he never gets cold.
We stopped for dinner, and was about to leave his phone and wallet in the car. His father saw this and told him it was the best way to make sure he no longer had a cellphone and wallet.
“But I don’t have any pockets,” he asserted.
“Then put it in your coat pocket,” my husband answered. It’s amazing how many times one can work you idiot you went to Michigan without a coat into a joke. My family was very adept at it. My husband and I barely had to raise a finger. So there he was on Thanksgiving, playing the family football game in… shorts and a hoodie. But it’s okay, because he had a beanie on.
When it came time for Thanksgiving dinner, he had changed into a dress shirt and khakis.
“Where is your suit coat?” I asked. I made sure it was cleaned and pressed and left it on his bed to make sure he wouldn’t forget it. The crickets had followed us all the way to Michigan. “So let me get this straight. You didn’t bring a jacket because I didn’t tell you to, yet I set out a suitcoat and you decided to leave that behind.”
I got myself a large glass of wine.
Friday evening we had about an hour to kill before leaving for dinner, when I saw the Dude running outside to play football with his cousins wearing khakis and a dress shirt. I was about to nag him, but he huffed at me before I could say anything. “I brought a change of clothes.”
I was about to apologize, but a little voice in the back of my head whispered how many dress shirts does he own? As he headed out the door, he said, “It’s shorts and a hoodie, but it’s too cold out to wear them.” The little voice in the back of my head whispered he never did answer the question about bringing underwear. I decide to tell the little voice to shut up because it only makes things worse.
By the time we headed home, the Dude had reached his limit. No more coat jokes, please. I can only hope that the lesson sinks in. Then again, I hope for world peace and a self-cleaning bathroom. He can rely on the hoodie and beanie all he wants. This year I’m thankful for wine.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph “Hoodie” by Davharuk © 2010 Creative Commons