48 Hours

Problematic suitcase

Michelle is going on a two night trip to the mountains with school.  She will be gone approximately 48 hours which, coincidentally, is the same amount of time it took us to pack.

It went like this:

“I have nothing to wear on this trip!”

“You have three dressers and a closet full of clothes.”

“But none of it is right for this trip.”

“You are going to the mountains for school.  You wear yoga pants, t-shirts and a coat!  You have all of said items.”

She looked at me as if I could not possibly understand what was going on in that little mind.  Her look was warranted.

She began digging in her middle drawer and pulled out a pair of black pants made of stretchy material.  “I’ll wear these  on the way down.  Actually, could you check the weather?”

“By all means Vera Wang.  It’s going to be 65 tomorrow, 63 on Thursday with possible rain and only 47 on Friday.”

“Then should I wear these pants instead?”  She held up a different pair of black stretchy pants.

They are both black; they are both long.  They are twins.  How can one override the other?

“Those appear to be much more appropriate for the climate.”

“I’m going to try them on.”

“Don’t you wear those often?”

“Yes.”

“Then why are you trying them on?”

“I need to see how they look with my tennis shoes.”

“I bet they look the same way that they did last Saturday when you wore them with your tennis shoes.”

She ignored me.  She then pulled out multiple white t-shirts as possible matches for her black pants.  I would have chosen the one on the top.

She then repeated the process with her jeans, a pair of crop yoga pants and a pair of leggings.  When done, she put one pair back on with her sweatshirt and a rain jacket.

“AHHHH,” she grumbled.

“What’s wrong now?”

“This stupid coat does not match my tennis shoes.”

“Actually, blue and pink go well together.”

“No.  They don’t.  And look, when I zip it I look fat.”

“You have two t-shirts and a sweatshirt under it.  Jimmy Walker would look plump in that getup.”

“Who?”

We then went to the attic to pick out a suitcase.  The Vera Bradley bag in her closet would not work.  She was afraid she was going to have to carry it too far.

“I want the one with the wheels.  The one with the pink polka dots.”

“It will certainly match your rain coat.  But I’m not sure about your tennis shoes.”

“Your suitcase does not have to match your tennis shoes.  You’re being ridiculous.”

“Oh.  I’m being ridiculous?”

“Yes.  And weird.  And don’t write about this!!”  She brushed her hair back with her hand, “I’m tired of being famous.”

I don’t think she was serious.  Well, about the last part.

Daddy Vogue

jcrew tennis shoes

I don’t know if I’ll ever get remarried.  Perhaps in time, but I guess I’m not in a rush.

My mom says that she’s not going to die until I do.  If I want to keep her around, I should probably not – it might give her incentive to keep on trucking.

I have dated some.  The girls reaction has been funny.  They are supportive, but they find it difficult to believe that anyone would actually, without being under some sort of duress, would want to go out with me.

Me:  “DJ, I’m going out to dinner on Friday night.  Can you babysit?”

DJ:  “I guess.  What are you doing?”

Me:  “I have a date.”

DJ:  “Seriously?”

The seriously isn’t framed as I’m upset you’re going out.  The tone behind the word clearly conveys Poor, poor pathetic woman.  To be desperate enough to go on a date with my dad – even if he is paying.

Someone told me to try online dating.  There may be a day that I get to that – but it sure isn’t now.  I did, however, wonder what my profile might be:

Nearly 50-year-old widower

Skinny with slight love handles

Three teenage daughters (now that’s a selling point)

Works for a nonprofit ($$$)

Will always love his deceased wife

Might write a tell-all book about you at some point in the future

I mean, who wouldn’t be into that?

A few weeks ago I was heading out and went upstairs to give instructions to the troops.  DJ looked at me.

“Dad, are you meeting a woman?”

“Yeah.  Just a friend for a drink.”

“Oh.”

She continued, “Dad, I like your shoes.”

“Thanks.”

“I also like your pants.”

“Thanks baby.”  I am so very, very cool.

“However, I don’t like them together.  Go change.”

I began my defense, “These are cool tennis shoes and J Crew cords!  We’re just going to a bar!  It’s casual!  Uncle Jesse has shoes like this!”

“No.  No he doesn’t.  This situation,” she pointed to my lower extremities, “is not working.”

I wasn’t about to let a 16-year-old dictate my wardrobe.  I’m a confident man.  She couldn’t tell me what to wear!

As I walked through the kitchen, I complained to Michelle, “Can you believe DJ told me to change my shoes?”

She glanced down from the iPad and down at my feet.  “Thank God.”

As I slipped on my boots I was disgusted with weakness.

I really haven’t dated that much and am in no big hurry.  It is difficult to find time.  But it is nice to occasionally hang out with females who aren’t married to my friends or whose primary concern isn’t acne.

Miss Hootie Tootie, at it again

cotillion

Cotillion is going to kill me.  We have homework this week.  Michelle has to write an essay about the manners of one of her teachers.

“Dad!  I don’t know about my teachers’ manners!  I don’t see them eat and stuff.  What am I going to write?”

“Well, I guess you could say: ‘My grammar teacher seems to have good manners.  She generally sits correctly and I’ve never heard her burp out loud.'”

I can’t help the kid.  Although all of her teachers seem fairly polite, I too would have a hard time writing a paper on their civilities.

And now, I have to find a white dress for her to wear to the Cotillion Ball.  Where in the heck am I gonna find a white dress?  Oh, and not just any white dress, it has to be “tea length.”  What is that?  Tea is not a measurement, it is a drink.  Is there a lemonade length?  A cherry Kool-Aid length?  A Red Bull length?  Who comes up with this stuff?  Miss Hootie Tootie?

I asked someone, “What is tea length?”  She said, “It comes above the ankles.”

So I said, “Oh.  High-waters.”

So, I need this high-waters, white dress by March.

I went to Target – NOTHING.  I went to Costco – NOTHING.

I found one online at a fancy pageant dress shop.  It was $295!  I ain’t spend $295 on a dress that she’s gonna wear once.  Plus, I couldn’t figure out her size.  It said to measure her bust (I don’t think she has one yet), her waist (got that one), her hips (again, none at this time) and measure “Hollow to Floor.”  What in the heck is Hallow to Floor?  Is that from her mouth to the ground?  Her nostrils?  They’re the only hollow things I see on the kid.

I also figure I need to buy something that isn’t too fluffy.  There’s that boy who, when he dances, holds all the girls by the elastic in their underwear.  I don’t want to throw him off.

Oh, she has a red dress.  Maybe I could just bleach it.  I’ve done that a ton of times with other articles of clothing.  That stuff seems to just suck the color out like a tic on a scab.

Geeze, I bet I’m gonna have to hand write the RSVP too.  Better dig out the Miss Manners book.  Had to do that last week for a function for Stephanie.  She is so wise.

“Dad, isn’t this tea required?”

“Yea.”

“Then why do we have to RSVP?  We don’t RSVP for school do we?”

I think my daughters might need to live in West Coast when they grow up.  They’re never gonna make it in the south.

Tighty Tight Tights

Fezzi

Tonight was opening night for Ira David Wood’s A Christmas Carol.  The girls and I do enjoy participating in this special Raleigh tradition.

Although I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience, I don’t think I’m going to pursue acting as a full-time career.  There are just a couple of things that make me thankful I work at the Y and not on Broadway.

Now I’m all about a costume, and in this play, I’m hooked up.  My on stage 19th century family is The Knife Grinders.  Yes, I get to carry a huge stick with convincingly real looking knives dangling from the top.  And, I get to wear a cape – which makes me feel like Dracula, which for some odd reason I really enjoy.

But in the second act, I transform into a dancer at a very festive party.  Although I’m smiling on the outside, my insides are quite out of sorts.

Like Beryshnicov, my role requires me to don tights.  They are hell to get on.  And once over my knees, they knot my boxers up like the balled up paper wads we used to toss at each other in Mr. Green’s seventh grade general science class.

My undergarments are twisted and turned in every direction all smashed together by the elasticity of the hose.

On top of those two items come the elastic waist knickers complete with suspenders to ensure that the pants stay on the body as I gracefully leap through the air.

As I froze on stage, the entre into the festivities of Act II, I realized that the elastic of my boxers were in my southern hemisphere, the elastic from the tights were on the equator and the knickers had ridden up to the north pole!  I felt like Saturn, all sorts of rings around my body.  It threw my concentration off terribly.  My personality demands organization in my pants.  I cannot dance with my innerwear all discombobulated.

And once it was over, I had to go to the bathroom.  Jiminy Christmas, it took me 8 minutes to find my parts.  Have you ever really needed to go and been constrained like that?  It’s claustrophobic.  I nearly had a panic attack right there in front of the urinal.  I got both hands stuck in my pants and couldn’t move.  Felt like a straight jacket.

The strength of my hosiery was also alarming.  When I pulled them down, they clenched my knees together like I had leg lock jaw.  I had to roll them down as if I was making a snake out of Play Dough to get them off.

On the bright side, spreading my thighs ten times gave me the workout of a lifetime.  What a great way to tone up below the waist.

I actually find it hard to believe that men in that era actually wore this stuff.  I mean, I thought they were tough.

Nah, they were just like us – I imagine they did whatever their wives told them to do.

“Archibald, I’d liketh for you to wear tights with your knickers tonight.  The neighbors are coming over for goose.”

“Do I haveta Clementine?”

“Archibald Nimrod Finnamore.  Putteth on ye tights!”

“Geeze.”

“Oh, and would you slaughter a pig as well?”

I can’t dance for two minutes in the things.  Imagine what they had to do in them!

Thank goodness men came to their senses.

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Frozen Drawers

frozen boxers

My oldest niece is now 25, 30, maybe older, I’m not sure.  All I do know is she’s getting on up there.

Since she was born I’ve worked hard to keep her in line – she is a handful.

One Christmas I decided to give her two of the things she loved the best – nicely packaged together.  So I took a pizza crust and hot glued macaroni all over it.  She was rude and didn’t eat it.

Fresh out of college and in a new apartment, she requested money and house goods for her holiday gifts.  Naturally, I bought a 24 pack of toilet paper, unrolled each and tucked a dollar in the middle.  I then wrote on the outside of the roll the title of a fabricated Christmas Tune – like “Oh Holy Wipe” or “Tinkle Bells.”  It took a great deal of careful thought to put it together, and yet, she complained about the rolls being unwrapped.  I just don’t get it.

The younger she was, the less she could throw back at me.  Now, with her old age and all, I’m having to be a bit more careful.

At the beach earlier this month, our entire family, all 12 of us, took our annual crab hunting exhibition.  We gathered the nets, the flashlights, buckets and frisbees (used to secure the caught crabs in the said buckets).

Since my mother is scared of everything, I decided I’d take a small twig, sneak up behind her and surprise her with a little tickle on her ankle.  It’s sort of fun to see a 76-year-old jump that high.  It reminded me of the time my brother put a plastic snake on her shoulder in a gift shop at Disney World when we were kids.  Her scream was so loud they called in security because they thought someone was dead.

So, maybe I took it a bit far when I repeated my trick four or five times on my mom, she is such a sucker.  Then a couple of swipes on my niece’s ankle and once or twice on Michelle.

I knew they were working to get me back when DJ and Courtney ran back to the house to “go to the bathroom.”  Both have camel bladders so I suspected revenge was in the making.

After a one-sided water gun war, I thought I had paid my penance.  What I learned when I climbed out of the shower was that all of my boxer shorts, every single pair – even the dirty ones, were missing.  I searched for a while and then gave it a rest.  I figured them knowing that I knew was torture enough.  They had to fear my next move.

I reminded them that I wasn’t big on underwear and that I could go months without my shorts.  I’ll have to admit though I didn’t want to have to buy 8 new pair.

Two days later, with still no sign of my boxers, I made my move.  While they were sunning by the pool, I snuck into their rooms and snatched their undies.

I then called truce and worked out a swap wtih my father as a neutral party.  We’d each give our goods to him, and he would return them to the rightful owner.  He’s a minister, I knew I could trust him.

What I didn’t realize was that little rat had wet my shorts, wadded them all up and crammed them on the bottom shelf of the freezer behind the ice pops and in front of the frozen kale.  When recovered, they were solid as an iceberg, formed in-between the crevasses of the wire rack that hid them.

It was nearly the rudest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Who does that?

PS – If you’re reading this, and you know who you are, just wait, wait until next year…

Sit and Wait to Die

vanity-fair_picture

Once each beach trip, we make the dreaded trip to the Tanger Outlet Mall at Myrtle Beach.  Each family takes their own car because we never all want to return to the beach house at the same time.

As I was riding back to our beach house, my mom called.

“Hey honey.  There is a store here called Vanity Fair  They have all kids of clothes at good prices.  Especially underwear.   Training bras and stuff.”

“Mom, I don’t like that term.”

“What term?”

“Training bra.  You don’t train them.  You just put them in and they sit.”

You train a dog.  Maybe a show horse.  But I don’t think you train boobs.  They’re more Goldfish than Labrador Retriever.

You just put a fish in the tank.  There he sits, just waiting to die.  You don’t tell him to roll over.  There’s no “go fetch.”  The bosom is the same way.  No special tricks.  I guess it sleeps but that’s 95% brain and only 5% body part.

Why would they call it a training bra?  There’s no training jock strap.  It’s just a jock strap, size small.  Why do we put our daughters through this agony?  Now they think they’re supposed to do something miraculous.  They are not.  They just sit and wait to die.

 

Holes, Those Comfy Holes

DSC_0633

I had a crotchial blowout on Monday.  I’m not sure what happened.  I just picked them up and there was a huge hole.  Perhaps I saw it coming and just didn’t want to accept it.  They are so special to me.  They’re my favorite drawers.  They’re comfortable.  They don’t bind me at all.  I feel so free in them.  The elastic is just right – loose enough not to leave a mark, tight enough to grip even on a man with a derriere deficit.

I don’t understand.  I remember buying these boxers when I got married.  I thought I needed some underwear without holes in them.  And now look what happened.  Only 18 years old.  They just don’t make things like they used to.

I asked my mom to patch the hole, but she refused.  Something about stitching not working on rotten material.  What if we’d have given up on her at age 18?   We didn’t throw in the towel just because she’s aging!

I thought about taking them to the tailor, she hems all of my dress pants.  There is a language barrier though, and I was afraid she’d think I was getting fresh.  Plus, her husband is big, and I was afraid if I handed his wife my underwear he’d hit me.

I just like comfortable clothes.

This is my favorite t-shirt.  Lisa forbade me to wear it.  She told me if she caught me in it she would throw it away.

DSC_0645

Can wives do that?  Throw your stuff away even if you still need it?

I’m not sure, but I was too afraid to call her bluff.  I thought about putting it on to run a couple of errands and then keeping it in my briefcase so that there was little chance that she could toss it without my knowledge.  But that just seemed too cumbersome.  I did hang it on the back of the closet door right beside her robe.  It was sort of a warning:  Don’t mess with me … I’m a man.  I can put it on if I want.

And then, as I was putting on my favorite lounging pants this morning, my foot got stuck in the small hole I’d worn in the knee – rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiippppppppppppppppp.

DSC_0653

Dag gone.  I was gonna keep the boxers and wear them with those pants – the pinnacle of comfort.  But now I’m afraid there is just too little material and too much Danny.

Seriously, I put those three articles of clothing on and it’s like warm milk from your mama.  It just feels right.  That ensemble is more comfortable than being naked.

Are those Huskie jeans you’re wearing?

 
DJ came home from shopping with her Nana last week.  She’d mentioned to me several times that she could use a new pair of rain boots.  I’d found several pair at Target and had offered to make that purchase.  She was unappreciative of my effort. Apparently her feet had more expensive taste than my tight fist was willing to plunk out.  She “needed” Hunter boots – a mere $120, plus tax.
 
“Are you planning to move to a Rainforest?” I questioned.  “We don’t exactly have monsoon season here in Raleigh.”
 
“Dad – our campus is huge!  When it rains I get soaked!”
 
Had she transferred to The University of Portland and not informed me?  “The campus is 20 acres and you walk on two of them.  Besides, I offered to buy you boots.”
 
“Those Target boots would fall apart after I wore them five times!”
 
It’s interesting how concerned my eldest daugther has become with the quality of merchandise over the past couple of years. 
 
“So, assuming it rains 15 times this year, I could buy you three pair of Target boots and still save $75.  I’m willing to take my chances on the Bullseye brand.”
 
Luckily for DJ, her Nana has a taste for the finer things in life and a looser grip on her checkbook.  Although to hear Jesse tell it, that was not always the case.
 
Apparently my sister-in-law, Sallie, once wanted a Lilly Pulitzer jumper, very stylish in the 80’s.  Nana didn’t buy one; instead she made it!  I’m sure you could hardly tell the difference.
 
I went on-line to see if I could figure out how to make shoes for the kids.  I got to step 27 and decided it was just too complicated:
 

Step #27: Preparing to sew your upper to your sole.

When I was growing up, my dad was no better than I am now.  Perhaps that’s where I learned it.  The only alligator seen in my house was when Peter Pan was on the Wonderful World of Disney.  None were on my clothing. 

 When all of my friends were sporting Polo shirts in high school, my gift boxes were packed with a cart pulling mule on the front pocket.  My dad couldn’t tell the difference, although every girl I might ever consider taking on a date could. 
 
I remember working and finally saving up enough money to buy one of those fancy shirts with the pocket pony.  My mother and I walked into Nowell‘s at Cross Creek Mall.  There was a stack of Polo’s higher than the Princess and the Pea’s mattresses.  I was nervous, my palms sweaty.  I had to make the right decision.  This might be the only one I ever owned.
 
The sales clerk pulled down a huge bundle folded ever so neatly.  He looked down his nose through his bifocaled glasses as if he were Ralph Lauren himself.  As I unfolded the one I thought I might want, navy with thin forrest green stripes and a red horse, a piece of tissue paper gently floated to the floor.   
 
This is class, I thought to myself.  This is how the other half live, and I like it.
 
I do understand how she feels.  My parents sent me to school in JC Penney Huskie blue jeans as a kid.  I guess Nowell’s didn’t sell plus sizes. If you want your child to get beat up, toss him on a school  bus to Walker Spivey Elementary wearing chubby clothes from Penney’s.  It’ll work every time. 
 
If I recall, there was a hippopotomus embroidered on the back pocket. 
 
Lisa would have bought her the boots.  When she died, she wrote five rules for the girls to follow.  One was:  “Gang up on dad when needed.” When I asked her what she meant by that, she said, “There are times when the girls are going to want to do something, and you’re going to be too cheap or too protective to let them.  When that happens, I want them all to gang up on you and make you do what I would have done.  If there is a great pair of $300 shoes that will make DJ’s prom dress the coolest at the dance, buy them for her!” Easy to say when you’re not looking private school tuition and twelve years of college in the face. 
 
I probably made the wrong decision on the boots.  Thank goodness for Nana. 

The Count Danny Tanner

Posted by Danny

I recently shared that I really, really like my cape and top hat from the play.  I sort of feel like I should be chanting da-da-da-da da-da-da-da  da-da-da-da da-da-da-da Bat Man as I wander around back stage.  I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to bring these incredible clothing items back into vogue. 

The more time I spend in my 19th century clothing, the more desire I have to be a Count.

Someone at work told me you could buy a title – I looked on line and apparently for $49.99 I could be a Scottish Laird or Lord.  But I’d prefer Count – or maybe a Baron.

I’m not really into biting anyone’s neck, and I get quiezy at the sight of blood, but Dracula was pretty cool.  As I walked through the halls of work today panomiming to my friends how I foreboding I could be in a cape, a lady I work with suggested I was less Count Dracula and more Count Chocula. 

I don’t think it would go over very well for me to walk into my Rotary Club meeting wearing a cape and top hat this winter.  And it probably wouldn’t help me move up the corporate ladder to don a cloak to a board meeting.  But when I hit the New York Times best seller list and blow this cookie stand, no holes barred.  You’ll see me at Barnes and Nobles at the book  signing table in full regalia.   

I bet 90% of men out there would enjoy wearing a cape.  Let’s ban together and bring them back!  Not surprising, Jesse already has one (seriously).  All we need is about 50 prominate guys in the Triangle Area to take the plunge and we’re there!  Hit me back if you’re in –

A Cleaner Closet and One Step Further

Posted by Danny

Lisa’s things have been fairly untouched since she died 22 months ago.  The closet, in particular, has been crammed full of her tailored couture.  I still have her makeup.

I was visiting my parents at Thanksgiving in Fayetteville and spent an hour with an old high school friend who lost his wife 13 years ago when she was only 32.  As we talked, he asked about her stuff.  I told him I hadn’t done anything about it.  He said, “It’s time.”  The words resonated.  I knew he was right.

I’d been feeling for a while I needed to tackle that project, but I found a number of excuses not to.  This week, I faced my fear.

I decided to make three piles: 

The items I thought the girls might want to keep, and the things I just could not part with.

Clothing that I am going to have made into quilts for each girl.  Most of it colorful – I tried to choose items that represented a strong sampling of Lisa’s style – or something with strong meaning, like her favorite pajamas.  These blankets will have to be dry cleaned.  I couldn’t find a ton of meaningful cotton.

The third was the give away stack – lots of black pants and white turtle necks made it there.

It seemed that each item had a story.  Near the top of the pile were the clothes she’d worn the last six months of her life as we trekked back and forth to Duke for treatment.  Those jersey pants and long-sleeved pullovers were the first to hit the giveaway pile.  Those are not memories I’m fond of keeping.  Each article took me back to a different waiting or examining room.  A doctor’s face seemed to be stencilled on each sleeve.  The gauzy underwear for after surgery – straight to the trash can – but even they brought tears.

The white jacket she was wearing the day she told me she had cancer.  It may leave the house, but it will never leave my memory.

The dress she wore at Michelle’s baptism – the picture in the bedroom stands as the reminder. 

The skirt she wore when she volunteered us to work the coat closet at the Governor’s inauguration.  An hour of work in return for rubbing elbows with Jim Hunt – a fair trade.  I’ll have to admit, she looked so good I would have liked to “inaugurate” the closet.  I asked – she wouldn’t.

Only once did she hire a personal shopper – and she did so without my preshopping knowledge.  It was for her 20th class reunion.  She proudly told me that although the outfit was expensive, I’d be glad to know she didn’t buy the $600 pair of shoes that her advisor suggested.  The pants, blouse and the shoes she did buy, I kept.  My favorite picture of us was taken that night.

The hardest part was her underwear.  Isn’t that funny?  Maybe it was the intimacy of those items.  I kept my favorites.

At one point, it dawned on me the dollar investment of all of these things.  Thousands of dollars I’m sure.  And now, 60% of them will be given away or cut into flower pedals. 

It’s just stuff I tell myself.  Lisa doesn’t live in items – she lives in our hearts and minds. 

Yeah – keep telling yourself that buddy.  You still buy her brand of conditioner and sniff it like a cocaine addict.

But this is progress – yes, this is progress.

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