Daryl’s middle school has an end-of-year dance. A couple of days before the dance this year, he asked a girl at school to be his girlfriend. And then he asked her to the dance. The night before the dance, Daryl was rummaging through his clothing, looking for something to wear.
“Do you know where my Easter clothes are?” he asked me.
“I thought you hated your Easter clothes.”
“I do, but it’s a Hawaiian themed dance and we are supposed to wear Hawaiian shirts or bright colored clothes.”
His Easter clothes certainly would fit the bill. He didn’t want to go with me when I shopped for Easter clothing, telling me instead to “just pick something out for me. I don’t care.”
He cared once I got home. I had purchased a pair of bright turquoise blue shorts on clearance and a sorta-bright pastel yellow shirt. He was horrified! But now? Now he was looking for those hideous clothes. But they weren’t even the best choice he had.
“You should wear your Hawaiian shirt,” I said, pulling a dark blue and white flowered shirt out of his closet. A much more sartorially accomplished friend of Jane’s had handed it down to Daryl a couple of years earlier and Daryl had never worn it.
“I’m not wearing that.” He said it in his serious, no-nonsense voice, which I groaned at and then ignored.
“Seriously, Daryl, that shirt is perfect. It’s a Hawaiian dance and this is a Hawaiian shirt. It doesn’t get any better than that. Here, try it on.” I slipped it off the hanger and handed it to him.
He tried it on. I could tell it was right on the edge of being too small for him but he looked good and I said so. He headed to our bathroom to check it out and I followed. As soon as he could see himself in the mirror, he wrinkled up his nose in disgust and said, “No way!”
“Oh, come on!” I tried. But, no, the Hawaiian shirt would not be worn. He found his Easter clothes soon thereafter and tried to get me to iron them. I pointed out that the Hawaiian shirt didn’t need to be ironed. He pleaded. I told him I was exhausted (I was) and that he could iron them himself. He said he didn’t know how. I said it was a good time to learn. He didn’t iron them but also didn’t switch to the Hawaiian shirt.
The next day, on the drive home from work, I thought about the clothes that still needed to be ironed. Since I was in the car with the bluetooth connection to my phone, I called.
“Get the ironing board and iron out so we can iron those clothes as soon as I get home,” I said.
“Oh, I don’t need to. I took care of it.”
“Really?” I asked in shock. “You ironed your clothes?” He must really like this girl, I thought to myself.
“No,” he said, “I’m not wearing those.” And this is where it got really good. I mean, really, really good.
“I’m wearing the Hawaiian shirt.”
My eyes went as big as saucers.
“Sally wants to match and she’s wearing blue so I’m going to wear that.”
A belly laugh began to work its way up to my throat. I forcefully shoved it back down and in the most neutral voice I could muster, said, “That’s wonderful dear. I’m glad you worked it out. I love you.” At this point, I was in severe danger of making it obvious I was laughing at the situation. “Good-bye,” I said, reaching quickly for the little red “hang up” button on my console.
And then I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. Tears rolled down my face. Mom couldn’t have threatened or rewarded him enough to get him to walk among his peers in that shirt. But a pretty young girl just had to say she wanted to match.
The hilarity continued when I got home and a hyper thirteen year old boy showed me how he had shaved. He fixed his hair (again and then again). He brushed his teeth. He took the toothpaste with him to freshen up after dinner. He checked his hair in the car’s mirror. In short, he acted like a completely different boy than I had been living with all this time.