My wife called me out the other day.
We were at the mall doing a little back-to-school shopping when it happened. I had just suggested that our teen-aged son and I strike out on our own when she questioned whether that was good idea.
For my part, I figured separating the kids was a good diplomatic move. While it would not necessarily preserve world peace, it would certainly promote harmony in my own corner of the globe. My wife and daughter could shop at their leisure without boys to pester them into hurrying things along. And my son and I could move in with precision, get what we needed quickly, then kill time waiting for the girls by loafing at the video game store or sampling the culinary pleasures of the food court.
It was a good plan until my wife mentioned that I always pick out what she called “old man” clothes for our son. To add insult to injury, he nodded in agreement then tried to ditch me.
“I want to go with Mom,” he said when asked which one of us he preferred to shop with.
I may not be the most stylish guy. After all, my formative fashion years date to the alligator shirts and “Members Only” jackets we wore back when I was in high school in the 1980s. But boy’s styles seem pretty timeless to me. What’s so hard about picking out a couple of pairs of jeans and a few t-shirts? Besides, our son has never been very picky.
Even though he clearly thought I would try to impose my ’80s sense of sartorial splendor, in the end, he reconsidered and decided to take a chance that I wouldn’t make him look like he just walked off the set of “The Breakfast Club.”
I don’t know why he changed his mind. It could be that he simply didn’t want to try to keep up with his mom and his little sister. Or, he may have just felt guilty for trying to abandon me. In any case, I told myself to stay in the background and just remain ready to open my wallet. (Within reason, of course. I’m cheap so I didn’t go totally off the deep end trying regain his favor).
Our first stop was the shoe store. On the way there I asked him if he had an idea of what he wanted.
“A pair of Chucks,” he replied with no hesitation.
For a second, I wondered if I heard him right. I thought he might be using some super-secret teen code I hadn’t cracked.
“Chuck Taylor’s?” I asked, seeking confirmation. “Converse All-Stars, right?”
Turns out, he meant what he said and Chucks were indeed what he wanted. Within a few minutes a helpful sales clerk had him in his first pair.
Fashion may have changed since I was in high school. But there are constants. A pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers is one of them. I had a pair when I was a kid. I don’t know if my dad and his dad before him chose to sport them but they could have. Athletes started using them back in the 1920s so even my great-grandfather could have at least been aware of them.
It’s clear Chucks have stood the test of time. And while I may have an “old man” attitude toward fashion, it’s nice to know that some of our stuff never goes out of style.
Now, if I could just get my son to go totally tubular about a gnarly to the max sweater vest.
That’s the ticket.