The memory was this: i was a teenager, roughly seventeen. We were going to the mall, a friend, his girlfriend and i. We didn't particularly want to go to the mall but we were bored and that was one of the places we tended to go. For some unknown reason, i got the idea in my head to go in clown make-up. Not the full goofy suit with big shoes or anything, more of a Red Skelton kind of thing, hobo get up. i probably just wanted to liven up what was otherwise going to be a really dull night.
Now, as you may well imagine, i was not allowed past the kitchen in this get up. My father particularly was very adamant about me getting changed. We still went to the mall, i just went as an angry youth who hated the world instead of a hobo clown.
My boy, the pretty one, has recently bought himself a screaming pink shirt. It's not quite Neon, but they hang out at the same bar in New Hope. Crap, i'm even ridiculing the lad in print! Here's the thing. The pretty one is a fairly confident individual. He does what he thinks is cool and the rest of the world be darned. But he can be influenced. My mirth over this shirt, which he likes and my mockery have shaken his willingness to wear it in public. i've seen it. He had to build up to it's debut.
Why? Why do i care what color shirt he wears? Why should he care that it was social suicide for a guy to wear pink back in the bronze age? i dunno but i have a guess.
Father's think that their families are indicators or at least will be viewed by the unwashed masses as such, of their own character and its implicit failings. A father who let's his son wear pink is raising an alternative lifestyle preferential child, i suppose would be the fear. A father who let his son go to the mall in clown make-up would be picking him up from the police station later that night or have to answer uncomfortable questions at work tomorrow or at church on Sunday.
i'm not saying that we have to let our kids do whatever fool thing enters their head. This is wisdom, it requires discernment. Knowing what's important and what isn't. This all seems darkly ironic given some of my father's recent decisions but that's a story for another day.
i like to perform. i didn't really know this about myself as a kid. i've had to learn it since. If, and that's a dangerously self-pitying word that gateways into a dark, self-pitying world if you live in it, if i'd been allowed to be myself a kid, what would i be doing now? How would i be different? Don't know, doesn't matter cause it didn't go down that way.
But i think i'm going to stop giving my son a hard time about his shirt.
The plaid pants on the other hand...