Dress for Success

It was a bit of a stressful weekend chez Johnson, what with inclement weather, and trying to coexist with three young boys in two hundred square feet of space. Whilst the professor, whose ‘office’ is part of the indisposed portion of our home, worked frantically to finish a paper.

On Saturday, around 2pm, having exhausted my creative-mom reserves, I sensed implosion/explosion was imminent. My implosion/explosion.

‘We have to go somewhere,’ I told the professor in my teetering-on-crazy-voice. He looked at me like I was crazy. It was snowing outside – it had already snowed a lot – it wasn’t prime ‘take-your-family-of-five-on-an-outing-weather’.  ‘Where?’ he asked in his perplexed yet unsurprised voice. ‘Anywhere,’ I replied like a junkie in need of a fix, ‘Costco, IKEA, the mall….somewhere big…where we can walk.’

‘And also,’ I added just for good measure, ‘I really need you to not wear those sweatpants and that white t-shirt anymore.’

I don’t know if the charcoal grey sweatpants were the culprit, or the ratty white t-shirt, or the fact that the professor was present yet unavailable. Maybe it was a combination of the three coupled with cranky cabin fevered kids in cramped quarters. But two things needed to change: my geographic coordinates and the father-of-my-children’s outfit.

The professor laughed, ‘what, you don’t like this,’ he feigned surprise that I thought his choice of garments was less than….stellar.

An hour later, after two much-needed showers and a considerable amount of scurrying around, we five were out the door. In search of ‘sanity’..at Costco and IKEA. I will never cease to be amazed by how full their parking lots are…no matter the weather or time of day. Luckily the IKEA playland could accommodate the Gort and the Hen. The possibility of a quiet, near-childless forty minutes danced in my head as I filled out the requisite form and helped the boys take off their jackets and boots before entering the playspace.

The Hen kicked off his black and orange boots, revealing a pair of bare feet; he wasn’t wearing any socks. The IKEA playland requires that its little patrons wear socks. A sockless three year old…was a problem.

‘Do you have any spare socks?’ I asked the friendly employee, because they often have extra pairs of clean socks for people just like me. She looked in the ‘extra’ drawer, there was ONE sock. Perhaps he could put the sock on his left foot and hop around? The Hen burst into tears. Thoroughly and completely heartbroken that he was about to be denied entry into the poor man’s Disneyland.

‘Do you have any socks, anywhere – in your purse, the car?’ the slightly-scared lady asked as she observed the spectacle before her. I was about to say something like, ‘what do you think I am, Mary Poppins,’ when I had an epiphany: young Percy was most likely wearing socks. Small socks – but socks nonetheless. I marched over to the cart where the babe was waiting with the professor and, together, we yanked off his boots and de-socked him. Luckily he was wearing a pair of too-big socks.

We returned home several hours later, a little more sane, and with some ‘excellent’ IKEA food in our bellies. After putting the boys to bed, I headed downstairs, where the professor was working. Again, still. He was wearing…a corduroy sportcoat.

‘Going somewhere?’ I asked. He’d been making late-night runs for Rockstar and Gatorade, but usually in much more casual attire. ‘I’m cold,’ he replied, ‘and it’s either this (he motioned to his corduroy sport coat) or the hooded sweatshirt. I didn’t think you’d approve…..But I’ve got to say, you might be on to something….I’m feeling really productive! I’m wearing a sportcoat. And listening to Al-Jazeera…’

It was my turn to laugh before heading upstairs.


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