Who wears short shorts? Everybody
So while I’m waiting for the pain meds to kick in, let’s talk about dad radar for a bit, shall we? Mind you, dad radar is generally not nearly as potent or vigilant as mom radar. To compare, mom radar is somewhere on the scale of the National Weather Service’s gigantic Doppler Array systems—you know, those things that look like monster ping pong balls perched atop our nation’s tallest mountain ranges—while dad radar would be likened to the handheld jobs used to clock baseball speed or thereabouts. Dad radar works, but not nearly on the same level as mom radar.
That being said, my little detection gun did sound recently when wifey and the girls came back from their Semi-Annual School Clothes Shopping Safari at The Mall—this outing was to prepare for the upcoming spring semester. I was anxious enough as it was, watching the smoke rise from the wife’s purse, knowing that where there’s smoke, there’s an exhausted Mastercard white hot from all the day’s friction. The anxiety level only increased as my girls, a sophomore and an eighth-grader-going-on-college, began exhibiting their safari trophies.
Note to dads everywhere who have daughters: (1) a blouse is not a shirt, so don’t call it that; (2) same goes with a skirt—it’s not a dress, it’s a skirt; (3) girl clothes and accessories, although by and large much, much tinier than boy clothes and such, are exponentially more expensive—quantity of cloth and/or plastic used to make a girl thing does not equal price of girl thing; and (4) if you have no idea what it is, just say “very nice.”
That’s not the high anxiety part, however. No, this episode began when the girls modeled their new shorts. And when I say “shorts,” never has the word had a more appropriate meaning. The smidgens of clothing I witnessed having a god-awful time trying to do their job were so minuscule that my radar gun melted before it ever had a chance to make a sound.
“They’re volleyball shorts, dad. Everybody’s wearing them.” That was the explanation I got for all the skin. And here’s the weird part: As I stood there, open-mouthed with my dad radar gun melted all over my shoes, the wife just smiled happily and said she liked the color.
“They’re a little, uh, short, aren’t they?” was the best I could muster.
“I think they’re cute.”
“Well, sure, dear, Betty Page was cute, too, but…”
“Who’s Betty Page?”
“Never mind. It’s obvious you were never a teenage boy.”
And there’s the rub. Nobody in that room, except for me, had ever been a teenage boy. And I know how teenage boys think. There are only two things on a teenage boy’s mind, I told wifey later: girls and girls.
“Oh, they’re all wearing them,” she said. “You’re being way overprotective.”
This from the woman who makes the girls walk together down the sidewalk to fetch the mail.
I spent the remainder of the evening arguing with the wife, the debate meandering from fashion and hemlines to morals and health class curriculum back around to clothes and the evolution of the school dress code.
“Well, in my day, the assistant principal measured the length of girls’ dresses and shorts with a ruler,” I huffed. “What do they use today, a toothpick?”
“You’re sounding old again, dear.”
“Well I am old, dammit. Why does everyone insist on showing so much skin these days?”
My whole line of reasoning was immediately sunk, however, when I tuned into the ESPN Classic Channel’s broadcast of the 1975 NBA playoffs. I’d conveniently forgotten how disturbingly tight and skimpy the shorts were then—and these were on the men! I flashed back to my high school sophomore year and my purple crushed-velvet hip huggers. Man. How did I get any circulation? Well, times were different is all I can say.
Ah, well. Guess I need to get a new dad radar gun.
Roger White graduated from Burleson High back when men were men and sheep were nervous. Roger lives with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, an adipose-enhanced dachshund, and a cat slowly recovering from Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.