The Things found themselves clothing-challenged when global warming relocated southern New England’s normally wet and chilly first week of April into the steam room of mid-August.
Thing 1 dripped about the house in one of her many pink sweat jackets.
Thing 2 sweltered in a dual-layer football jersey, leaving behind a trail of his own brine.
“I know what the calendar says, my little ones, but please dig into your drawers! (No, Thing 2, not THOSE drawers! Get your hand out of there this instant!) Delve into the deepest recesses of your closets! Shorts, T-shirts, flip flops! Chop chop! Vamos! Stat and hang a bag of Ringer’s lactate!”
“Oh, but father! My Hannah Montana shorts and High School Musical T-shirts are soooo outdated!” declared Thing 1. “My classmates shall make a mockery of me!”
“Yeah, Pops. And my butt and belly are too big for mine,” piped in Thing 2. “Yo, yo, yo – pass the chips!”
A silence followed filled with the ticks that our digital clocks would make if only they understood artistic license.
“To the mall! To the mall!” the Things cried in unison.
I scratched my thinning grays then pinched my thinner wallet.
Lord, oh, Lord – to the mall, forsooth.
The discount admirals of Old Navy were most kind to the boy: three pairs of shorts, one shirt the color of a Hawaiian sunset luau, pre-stained with dribbled poi.
The girl, though, the girl.
“Old Navy, pish posh. No self-respecting Diva-in-Training would stoop so low, father,” said the Thing known as 1.
She wanted justice.
Sorry, that’s Justice. With a capital “J.” And ubiquitous peace signs. And many items in Paradise Green, Real Purple and Fuchsia Rose.
"I don’t like these shorts. They stop above my knee and that means too much sunscreen to slather below,” she said after trying six pairs of varying hue but, alas, the same style.
We browse. We disrupt neat stacks in search of sizes. We re-fold poorly but sincerely.
“I like those but I know you, father,” she said. “You won’t let me wear them because they are too short.”
I’m taken aback with confused anger.
“This is the second time in memory I have heard you express this opinion of me, daughter, and I must ask, when have I ever objected to your clothing because of its length?”
“Then how about these,” she said, holding a tattered washcloth that had apparently been barfed up by an anemic rainbow.
“What? You were the one complaining five minutes ago that the other shorts didn’t go past your knees!”
“Mmmm, smell this. I like it so, father!”
“Sweet Thing,” I said, ripping the strip from the tester pad, “you need to first spray the perfume on the paper before you smell it. All you are inhaling are dust mites and cotton fiber.”
I grabbed a bottle, squirted, then waved it under her eager nose.
“Mmm mmm mmm! Oh, father! This is the scent I like best of all,” she said. “What’s it called, father dear?”
My fingers rotated the glass bottle until its name snickered to me.
“Sweet Thing,” I said, “it’s called, ‘Bright.’ ”
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