Penny dreadful, part 3: skirting the issue

Highland soldier, 1744. Shot 'em? Darned near kilt 'em!/Wikimedia Commons

E-mail to colleague first thing: “I won’t be at the office this morning. I’m getting new toilets.”

And just in time. The hard-to-lift boxes had to get out of the Large Smelly Boymobile before Dungeons & Dragons Dad has to pick up six Large Smelly D&D Players.

On a recent sunny Sunday morning,
I got out of the shower, slipped on my fuzzy slippers, flushed the toilet, heard an all-too-familiar gurgle, said something that toilets are supposed to dispose of, and while I stood there wearing only my fuzzy slippers (don’t picture that) and plunging mightily away, I thought, That does it. I’m driving to hell-and-gone suburbs today to buy new toilets.

Did I say it was sunny? I had planned to finally rake those leaves moldering by the day in the backyard. I had fancied maybe baking. Instead I hollered up the stairs to one of the Large Smelly Boys, “Get your pants on! We’re buying toilets!”

What was in it for him? Felix/Martha wanted Christmas lights.

And pants that actually fit.

Pantalone in 1550. Illustration: Maurice Sand, 1860/Wikimedia CommonsIn 3 months we had been to no fewer than 6 Boy Pant Stores (otherwise known as Chasms of Hell), some of them multiple times, and many more online shopping sites. None of the pants were the right size, the right color, the right material, the right no-buttons, the right pockets, the right plain ordinary solid-color no-frills gotta-fit STUPID PANTS!

The list? No patterns, no buttons, no logos, no zippers. No sweats, no jeans, no fabric that’s slick. No green, no red, no gray, no black. Only blue, only khaki, only khaki that’s light. No brown, no yellow, no any other khaki. No belts, no words, no stripes, no strings. No cammo. No danglies. No so-many pockets. No baggy ugliness.

This wasn’t my list. I would have lived with baggy ugliness. As long as the pants fit in the washing machine. I would have lived with so-many pockets you could pack away a deluxe salad bar making sure the kidney beans were always stashed separately from the mini-corns. I just wanted pants on my kid that didn’t fit like capris and didn’t have rips up the wazzoo.

After our first neverending Brush With Pants-Shopping Death, I posted this on Facebook:

“I’ve been to hell and it involves shopping for boy pants. Stores: 4. Pants: 0.”

Then the sympathy votes rolled in. A sampling:

OMG, I SOOOO share this hell!

Try kilts.

If they like them, they don’t fit. If they fit, they don’t like them.

Worse than bras?

Oh, just put them in sweat pants!

Pants shopping here tonight: Stores: 1, Pants: 1. Target, baby!

That did it. By then I had had more Brushes With Pants-Shopping Death. I finally had to respond:

“Been there! Done that! No luck! Stores: 5. Pants: 0. We’ve even gone online to find the right size in the right color only to have a rude, red “out of stock” sign pop up. Wearing only skivvies is perfectly acceptable at school, right?”

Days, weeks, months went by. I was getting queries how it was going. Finally, I posted an update:

“Stores: 6. Pants: 0. Online shopping: Zilch. My son now wears capri pants and doing laundry every few nights is getting old. I’m liking the kilt trend more all the time, but he wouldn’t be caught dead in plaid.”

Then flowed the kilt comments. As if they helped. I got links to online kilt stores. As if they helped.

Black Watch kilt: Stylish, manly, and dig that purse in front. Wikimedia CommonsSo by Sunday, THREE MONTHS after our first scary non-encounter, Mr. Ripped-Up Capri-Wearing Smarty Pants had good reason to go with me to shop for toilets. Even as his Felix/Martha persona really wanted to buy Christmas lights. Because he desperately needed to not look like a waif from a Dickens novel. He needed pants. We had finally found 3 that worked. We had to go back to ONE store for the FOURTH time to find the rest. And guess what?

WE SCORED!!!! We’re not in RIP CITY anymore, people! We’re in PANTS CITY now!

Afterward, we went to a nearby coffee shop. We sipped smoothies. We celebrated our glorious pants success. And you wouldn’t believe what walked in the door.

A guy dressed in full kilt regalia! He had the kilt, the tall knee-high socks with plaid ribbons, the tam-o-shanter, the nifty jacket, even the jaunty leather pouch.

I couldn’t help but think: Back-to-school shopping wouldn’t have to stretch to Christmas season if I could just get my Large Smelly Boy to wear a skirt.

To be continued …

— Laura Grimes


PHOTOS, from top:

  • Highland soldier, 1744. Shot ’em? Darned near kilt ’em! From “Clans and Tartans — Collins Pocket Reference,” Glasgow, 1995. An early picture of a Government Tartan great quilt. The plaid protects the musket from rain and wind. Where Large Smelly Boys are concerned, unfortunately, nothing protects from wind./Wikimedia Commons
  • Pantalone in 1550. Now, that’s a pair of pants. One piece, one color, just throw on a cape and you’re ready to go. Illustration: Maurice Sand, 1860/Wikimedia Commons
  • Black Watch kilt. Stylish, manly, and dig that purse in front. Wikimedia Commons