The house seems quiet today. Boy in Black is gone for three days, off at a college that invited him to campus to compete for a scholarship.
He was not nervous about the high-pressure interviews. His shyness is curiously specific. Talking to a girl his own age can make him stammer, blush, and lapse into complete silence. But being grilled by a handful of college professors does not frighten him in the least. No, the most difficult part of the process for Boy in Black was the realization he would have to dress up for the interviews.
For awards ceremonies and interviews, most kids here wear khaki pants with a white or light blue shirt. That seems to be the standard dress code. But Boy in Black has always chosen to wear black -- black dress pants, a black dress shirt, and a red-and-black tie. Since he has shaggy dark hair, dark eyes with long black lashes, and skin that always looks tan, black is a good choice for him.
He keeps growing, though, so we had to go buy a pair of new black pants. Yes, that sounds simple. But it was not. There is one person in this world who hates shopping more than me, and it's Boy in Black. The worst part is that because he is very tall and thin, he is hard to fit and that means he actually has to try on the pants. Yes, that's right. His evil mother actually insists that he go into the dressing room and put the pants on. Worst, she makes him walk out of the dressing room and show her the pants. Clearly, she just likes to torture him. What mother would do such a thing to her son?
Boy in Black's shopping strategy is to buy the very first pair of pants he tries on, so that he won't have to try on any more. So here is the kind of conversation we have.
Me: (yelling into the dressing room) Do they fit?
Him: Yeah, they're good.
Me: Come out so I can see them on you.
Him: (deep sigh)
Me: Let me see.
Him: See? They're fine. Let's go.
Me: Fine? They are several inches too short. I can see your socks!
Him: They're good enough. Let's go.
Me: Take your hands out of the pockets.
Him: But this is how I normally stand.
Me: The waist is too big. This is not the right size at all.
Him: They're okay.
Me: Not. even. close. Let me get you a different size.
Him: How long is this going to take?
Me: THOSE PANTS DON'T FIT YOU AT ALL.
Him: You wanted me to try a pair on and I did.
Me: Here, try this pair.
Him: But I already tried a pair on.
Eventually, we did find a pair that fit him perfectly. At home, after much prodding, I convinced him to try on the interview outfit. Since he wears the same clothes every day – black band t-shirt, black hoodie, and black zip-off pants – it was a shock to see him dressed up, so tall and thin, looking like a man instead of a teenage boy. But he looked terrific. I felt relieved that he had a decent outfit to wear to the interviews.
Then I saw the movie Walk the Line, and that is when I realized what I had done.
I sent my kid off to an important interview dressed like Johnny Cash.