“Number-5 bought a new helmet,” Number 1 told me the moment I walked in the door from work.
I didn’t think much of it until I saw Number-5 dash and duck into the family room with his helmet on as I walked down the hall towards the kitchen. I started chuckling. Then I started laughing – hysterically.
“What’s with the helmet?” I asked my wife amid fits of laughter as she emerged from our room with a handful of papers and that disturbed look you often see on a mom’s face after a long day at work and dealing with the kids.
“He bought it…with his own money…and he’s proud of it,” she mumbles while shuffling through bills and junk mail. As an afterthought, she shoots me that look. The one that says, ‘don’t say a word or I’ll kick you between the eyes.’ That’s the look that stops me dead in my tracks.
I back off. Instinct and a whole lot of experience tells me that you NEVER mess with mama bear and her cubs. But I’m still intrigued. Number-1 fills in the gaps my wife and Number-5 have left for me to fill in on my own.
“It’s a snowboarding helmet. He saw it in the store, bought it and has been wearing it ever since.”
Number-5 wore the helmet with its faux Army stickers and camouflage the rest of the evening until my wife told him that he was not going to shower with the thing on and he definitely was not going to wear it to bed.
I love Number-5. He’s a bit of an odd duck who marches to the tune of his own drum. A lot like his brother Number-3 who is now a seventh grader. As a pre-schooler, Number-3 was so in awe of his Batman mask, that he wore the stupid thing to school for another two weeks after Halloween. Number-3 thought it was cool. I thought it was hillarious.
It made me wonder about dress codes. We commonly associate dress codes with the work environment but honestly, isn’t there a dress code for just about every setting and activity? Some companies have common sense rules about the way you dress at work and then there is the Human Resources fashion police who tell you exactly what you you can and can’t wear. I’m a big fan of comfort and function over style and fashion. Its another reason I should be thankful my wife married me because my sense of style falls somewhere between the neighborhood of grunge and grungier.
Men have a separate set of dress standards from women, who for some odd reason have a different dress code for shopping at Wal-Mart as opposed to shopping at Nordstrom. Some of the dress standards are unspoken and are common sense like going to church versus going to herd cattle but even then its still open to interpretation because you’re never going to turn away a guy wearing flannel and a pair of boots from communing with God and who said you can’t lasso a cow in a three piece suit and loafers? Corporate dress codes are pretty stringent and could easily land you in the unemployment line if you don’t follow protocol. I’m not a big fan of dress codes but I can understand why there is a need for them.
Along with dress standards, everyone has their own sense of style from the girl who wears her pink snow boots in the middle of Summer to the boy who wore a Superman cape to church to the boy who wears cowboy boots with every and any item of clothing he owns. Some trends I’ve seen lately are rather bizzarre or down-right strange (Lady Gaga in a meat dress?) and then there are some who are ultra-conservative whose frown, perched atop their bow-ties and accentuated by their button down shirts and cardigan vests simply can’t stand the thought of someone like me walking into a black tie event with painters pants and a Tap Out tee-shirt.
There are wearers of skinny jeans that somehow can’t get past their knees, and the tee-shirts that look two sizes too small or has more holes in it than a golf course. There are the teen girls (and sadly some 30-somethings) who hike up a pair of short-shorts and a blouse that leaves very little to the imagination. And then there is the lady who shows up at the Christmas party each year wearing a cocktail dress that is little more than strips of cloth covering next to nothing. And she arrives at the party arm-in-arm with a guy wearing tattered jeans and an American Eagle sweatshirt. Hey, if you’re gonna go to the prom together at least wear a cumberbun that matches her dress, right?!
I was born and raised in an era that taught you that the way you dress is a reflection of who you are and where you’re headed. I know, there are a lot of fallacies in that statement that I’m not even going to attempt at this time, but still, if an attractive young lady walked into a store with a really short or skimpy dress the women in the store would be thinking ‘tramp’ and the guys would be thinking ‘Wow!’. Our society is such that We’ve been conditioned to think and act a certain way and yet we wonder why crimes against women and children are at an all-time high when guy’s have become so accustomed to objectifying women who oblige them with revealing clothing. Eh, I’m not the moral police so if you’re gonna wear a v-neck sweater to mass or sacrament meeting go for it…or let it all hang out, whichever you prefer.
The corporate motto, “Dress for Success” has often been my own standard for personal hygene and grooming. It doesnt’ mean that everyone should be living by that same standard because let’s face it, some of us are more comfortable in jeans and a sweat shirt. It’s something my mother instilled in me having come from the abject poverty of post-colonial Samoa. Mom would tell us, “Even if you have an old shirt but its a clean one and it makes you look nice, its so much better than looking dirty. Have pride in your appearance.”
Mom and dad were old skool. When we got ready to go to a church dance you stood in front of the fashion firing squad before walking out of the door.
‘Tuck your shirt in!’ ‘Do you have a clean shirt?’ ‘Comb your hair!’ ‘Is that eyeliner above your lip?’ ‘Put on a tie!’
The list went on and on until mom was satisfied and dad was bored. But they are habits that have stayed with me all these years. I never walk into work wearing something with a hole in it unless its my head; I always look neatly pressed when I go to church and I almost always wear clean clothes when I’m out in public. At home, a different story my wife will have to tell.
Having said all that, to each his own. I realize some people aren’t as uptight as I am and would rather let loose. My wife and I have taught our sons that even if there are kids who don’t dress the same, act the same, eat, drink, spit or smell the same as you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be their friend or be nice to the them and you should NEVER make them feel inferior.
I like quirky; I avoid crazy. So tonight I’ll go home, jump out of my corporate uniform (business casual) throw on a clean pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and tell Number-5 to put on his helmet ’cause we’re going out on the town!