“This is the last time I am going to ask. When is your appointment for senior pictures and what are you going to wear?”
I got the date out of him but not what he was going to wear. Days go by. Two nights before, I couldn’t take it and I asked yet again. Old habits die hard.
“What are you going to wear?” I said. I was slightly less nice this time clearly enunciating every vowel, every word. I closed my eyes to concentrate on delivering the sentence. I could even see the words behind my eyelids. Times New Roman 14 font. They were all in capitals. With periods between each word. I took a deep breath after the last word and opened my eyes.
“Can I wear that black shirt I wore to the semi-formal?” he said.
“Can I wear the striped one?”
“Can I wear this one?”
“Can I wear one of Dad’s?”
I no longer even needed to look away from watching Call the Midwife. (I love how midwifery is pronounced.) I knew how this was going to end but it had to be his idea.
Last year, I spent hours as his personal shopper. I knew all the sales people at American Eagle and Hollister. I had begun to enjoy the ambiance in Hollister. They are masters of the beach theme. The mood lighting, the painted wood floor. The leather chairs. I liked it all. I had begun to think about applying for a job. Maybe Hollister does what casinos are rumored to do, confuse you. There’s no night. No day. No seasons. Time stops. No Right. No wrong. Just you and 7,000 pairs of pre-ripped skinny jeans. Slot machines. Skinny jeans. Free drinks and cologne. I drank the Kool-Aid.
I went home and everything was the wrong size.
I also once waitressed. I got really tired of waitressing. Wednesday nights were lobster night. I could hold a tray for eight. A tray of eight lobsters leaving the kitchen is very different from a tray eight lobsters coming back in. Eight lobster carcasses. Eight dried up baked potatoes skins. Eight barely nibbled ears of corn. Eight small bowls of left over butter. Eight crumpled lobster bibs.
And about a quart of lobster juice swishing and swashing all over the tray and eventually down the sides of my neck. Seeping in between my white collar and black bow tie. Trickling down my chest to mingle with the beads of sweat. Lobster night was very popular with everyone but the waitresses. I vowed to never, ever waitress again once I graduated from college. I felt oddly the same about Hollister and personal shopping now.
“Can we go shopping?” And there it was – his idea. We were going shopping for clothes for his senior pictures.
Two ties, two shirts, and a trip to a Sonic later, we were home. The next morning, I woke him up and rushed him into the shower after taking mine. We needed to get going. I ironed his shirts and his ties worried about the time. I still needed to dry my own hair. Sam came in asking me to put his tie on.
Fumbling with the knot, I thought what am I doing? Startling myself. I don’t need to go. Was he supposed to do this alone? He probably wasn’t even expecting me to go. He should do this alone. Ten months from now he will do everything alone (assuming he ever completes a college application). Do other mothers go? I couldn’t remember…
“Okay. That looks pretty good. My keys are downstairs. Hurry up, you’ll be late.”
“Aren’t you coming with me? You’re coming, right?” he said. He has huge green eyes. When he was a tiny baby, I let him sleep with me. I couldn’t bear to hear him cry. One morning, I woke up to see this tiny baby already awake staring at me. Checking me out. Quiet as a mouse. The two of us still getting to know each other.
He knew I’d go. My hair barely dry, with no makeup on, I went. I was the only mother there for senior pictures. It was just me and Sam for a few minutes and then some of his friends came in. Sam joined them leaving me at a table alone. I looked around and thought, I need to go. Let him go.
But it had needed to be my idea.
Jennifer Weaver lives in New England with her family and her much adored terrier, Neil Patrick Harris. A background in education, she has written for Expat Child, Mothering Matters (Zürich, Switzerland), and the Ellsworth American (Ellsworth, Maine). She began writing as a way to chronicle her experiences living abroad. More of her writing can be found at Weaving In and Out