The Dude asked me to take him shopping for school clothes last weekend. Shopping for Dude-threads requires precision timing. I have to find the moment post-growth spurt, in season, while his size is still available.
I love to shop. The Dude, not so much.
His strategy is to walk into a store, sniff around like a meerkat, then say there’s nothing there he wants. He does not wander the perimeter, look at rounders or displays, or try anything on “just in case.” I am not allowed to suggest anything, pull anything out for him to look at, or even lead the direction. Any action on my part will result in total dismissal. I am not allowed to speak until he’s made his determination that this place is “like, for someone else, not me.”
Often I have to agree. The Dude has his own vernacular for dissing a store. “Too Abercrombie and Fitch” is for douchey guys who try too hard. If it’s too dorky, he strikes a catalog pose, hands in pockets, no words required. Other stores are tagged by their target–Emo, Hipster, Laxer Bro, Preppy, Skater boi, Gangster. If he can smell cologne when he walks in, it’s “No. Just… No.”
His personal style fits in a one inch cube. If he strays too far outside the lines, he risks looking like something he’s not, or just plain getting it wrong. It makes it hard to find clothes for him, however, as what he wants is inevitably out of stock or last season’s model. Last year he vacillated so long on a pair of shoes that they were sold out. The pant brand he likes made a few slight changes to their khakis. What if they aren’t exactly right anymore?
We spent two hours at the mall and came back with a pack of underwear. I asked him what he was hoping he would find when we went shopping.
“I thought I’d go into the store, and there would be a rack with the pants I wanted, with all of the sizes so I could try them on, and then take them home. And maybe a couple of shirts.”
“You’re just like your father, and by the way, it’s called the internet.” This way he can meerkat all he wants. I don’t have to observe.
My husband texted to see how it was going
If I suggest anything, he gives me the angry cat face, I replied.
I can has pants I want?
Only if I’s tries them on. He wants a customized Dude Store with everything he wants in exactly his size.
I’m pretty incensed about that too, when I go shopping. Isn’t that what we built the internet for?
Oh, I know him so well.
At least we didn’t have to go to Lids.
The Dude can spend hours at Lids.
One should not have more hats than underwear.
It’s a good thing we bought a pack then. The Dude has a lot of hats.
I get it, though. We all have boxes that we squeeze ourselves into. I am this. I am not that. And I have to wonder why we are so quick to squash the urge to step outside the lines that someone else has arbitrarily drawn for us. In the Dude’s case, it’s a matter of self-preservation, but I can only hope that someday he manages to move beyond what he proscribes for himself. Or at least picks a different pair of pants every so often. Even meerkats have to come out for fresh air every so often.
Words by J. B. Everett