CLOTHES THAT DON’T MAKE THE MAN
The introduction to the twins has been a little rough. Angel, my precocious niece, has developed a way to look down her nose at people who aren’t “acceptable” even if they stand three and a half feet above her. Unfortunately, I have discovered that I am amongst the “unacceptable.” This would not normally be so disheartening considering that we only just met, but DH—who is drastically less interested in procuring the affections of munchkin snobs—has immediately secured a place in her clique.
Meanwhile Pooter, my sturdy nephew, has yet to give me any indication of his regard. When placed in my vicinity, he stared at me with no response. His steady and stern gaze was a bit unnerving, for I couldn’t discern whether he was going to run from me or charge at me. I was told that he doesn’t talk much because his sister “runs the show.” I was told that it takes him a while “to warm up.” I was told not to ever take the swimming goggles off of his head because “he would have a nervous breakdown.”
In the hours since those initial meetings, I have also learned that the twins love to play a game called “Terrorize The People.” This game is fairly simple. The two primary players are the twins. The rest of us are the pawns. The players control the pawns to the best of their ability through a clever tag-team technique of tantrum behavior. One twin screams and wails for a spell while the pawns try to problem-solve the crisis. Once the wailing twin has been pacified, the pawns are given a five-minute rest. Then the other twin—who was previously playing in a cherubic manner—erupts into irrational fits, throwing the pawns into a tizzy once again. The game is played non-stop, and it proves effective in driving the pawns to the brink of insanity.
Hoping to regain a mental marble or two, I know I must get out of the villa soon. I announce, “DH, our kids and myself are going out tonight. We’ve never been to Disney’s Boardwalk Area, so we are heading out there after dinner.” Grammy adds, “Why don’t we all go?” “That’s not necessary,” I reply. “I know we are here together, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to do everything we do. The twins might be too tired to do all the running around we intend to do.” It is my hope that Auntie—who looks quite exhausted—will take this easy-out for her family. Grammy exclaims, “Nonsense! The twins will love it and fall asleep in their strollers when they get tired.”
I smile and concede defeat in my mind. There is no way to escape our boardwalk companions without blatant and aggressive exclusion. Contrarily, Grammy has a plan to enhance the concept of our solidarity. “I have the perfect thing for everyone to wear tonight,” she announces. “When I was at Wal-Mart, they had Pirates of the Caribbean shirts on clearance. I bought one for all the men. I also found princess outfits for the girls.” The children squeal with happiness at the news.
Feeling her effort of camaraderie has been endorsed, Grammy jaunts to the villa’s second bedroom and returns with a box. Everyone waits for the ceremonial unveiling of our unitarian apparel.
With great fanfare Grammy pulls out the first pirate shirt. It sports an edgy skull and crossbones dressed in Captain Jack Sparrow headgear and Pirates of the Caribbean banner, but the shirt is a shocking gold color. I can see the reason for a reduced price, for the shirt screams “TASTELESS!” Buddy and DS5 congratulate each other with high-fives. They feel they have won the fashion lottery in scoring these scallywag duds. DH and Uncle look on in complete horror. They cannot believe they are expected to don that outrageous hue.
DH looks at me with big eyes that plead for rescue. I shrug in his direction with a regretful expression. I feel helpless to squash this moment of bargain hunting victory in Grammy’s life.
“I’m sorry to say,” Grammy expresses, “that I couldn’t get all the shirts to match perfectly. They didn’t have the gold color in men’s sizes. They only had black.” With less fanfare but still some excitement, Grammy pulls out a much larger version of the same pirate shirt in a masculine black. I see DH and Uncle take on relieved postures and smile gratefully as they are handed their evening attire.
“The girls have outfits,” Grammy declares. As she pulls out each one, handing them off to Angel, DD7 and DD2, I see they are—in fact—rather adorable playsuits. Frilly shorts in a floral pattern accompany a soft, graphic screen t-shirt of all the Disney princesses. The girls are pleased. Auntie and I smile at the thought of our darlings proudly being Disney branded for the evening with such appeal. All that is left is the viewing of the women’s wear. I don’t know whether I should be excited or frightened.
“Sadly, there were no Disney shirts for women on the sale rack,” Grammy explains. “But I was able to find a couple in a thrift store. They don’t match because—obviously–at thrift stores you just get what you find. Grammy then pulls out two used and uninspiring tees. There is no style in the shape of the shirts. There is no “personality” in the design. They have some clipart images of a few primary Disney characters and the generic word “Florida” printed in common fonts. I can tell these were originally purchased in a gas station somewhere along a Florida highway.
Auntie speaks up, “Grammy, you know I have a hundred of those. You can give them both to NDM#1. I was going to wear my Chip-n-Dale shirt tonight anyway.” Auntie is already dressed in her vintage-inspired chipmunk ringer tee and looks ready for a Disney night in style. Grammy proudly responds, “How generous!” She then turns to me and hands me my newly acquired treasures.
I hurry with them back to the safety of my villa bedroom as my mind races to find an escape from the current predicament. The bottom line is these shirts are ugly, and—Mickey Mouse or no Mickey Mouse—they make me look ugly. It will be my very first night experiencing the elegant seaside-themed Disney’s Boardwalk Area. I want to stroll it in confidence and without care. Wearing either of these shirts will condemn me to a night of insecurity and self-consciousness. I will hardly be able to focus on my surroundings if I can’t see past my unbecoming tourist couture.
I search the core of my NDM being for the solution. Think, think, think. I will find the answer. I must find the answer.