As you know, I am a professional Question Asker. I realize, though, that the talent of getting to the heart of the issue is not the sole purview of ad people. I would think teachers excel at this, as do most parents. So today’s post, frankly, is telling you nothing you didn’t already know. But as my faithful subscribers know (if you don’t subscribe, you are a source of sadness to me), my primary goal here is to brighten your day heading into the weekend. Sort of a happiness head start. So here’s one from the Reeves family archives about trying to get past the obvious.
A couple of years ago at this time of year, my then-12-year-old younger son was in his school’s Christmas play. My wife was gone for the day and was going to meet us there. So my task was to get him there on time. It was a responsibility well within my realm of capabilities.
When it came time to go, I assumed my fatherly duties. “Boy! Let’s go!”
I don’t know what I was expecting him to be wearing when he came downstairs, but it wasn’t that. He came down wearing a storm trooper t-shirt, a pair of shorts and flip-flops.
I said, “What are you wearing? What the hell kind of a Christmas play is this?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? You don’t know what kind of a play it is?”
“How can you not know? Are you singing? Dancing? Miming the Beach Boys? Is it a play?”
“It’s a play, but I don’t know what we’re doing.”
“How can that be? You’re in a play and you have no idea what the play is about?”
I could feel my universe spinning out of control. Klaxons were sounding, but I was getting nothing from him. I tried a different approach.
“Explain the clothes to me.”
“They said to wear a white shirt.” Okay, the storm troopers shirt was white. Mostly, I guess. Except for the storm trooper graphics. And the saimin stains. “They said don’t wear jeans.” Okay, his shorts aren’t made of denim. They’re sort of a lightweight poplin. Very cool and comfortable in the summer. Highly recommended on the lanai. But for a Christmas play? “And they said don’t wear tennis shoes.” Again, flip-flops are not tennis shoes. So while his outfit was technically not violating the rules, my Father Radar was telling me that it still wasn’t correct.
A good general knows when to rely on his troops. I called in reinforcements. I called one of his classmates’ mom. “Hey Steph, it’s Doug Reeves. Do you know anything about this play they’re in and what they’re supposed to wear?”
“I don’t know what the play is, but they’re supposed to wear black pants. But my son doesn’t own any, and I’m not buying them just for one night, so he’s wearing his navy blue school pants.”
“Okay, that’s what we’ll do too, then. What about the shirt?”
“A white button-down shirt. No polo shirts.”
“Okay, we’re getting closer. Shoes?”
“Just something nice. But no tennis shoes.”
“What about flip-flops?”
“Okay, thanks Steph. See you there.”
Of course by this time we were late. “Go put on a white button-down shirt. I don’t care that it has the school logo, just do it! And put on your school pants and your nice shoes. Hurry it up!”
The one thing we had going for us is that the younger kids usually do their thing first, then the older kids. So it was okay if we were a little late.
My son and my older son and I all piled in the car and headed down to the school. We dropped him off with a few minutes to spare before the thing started. My wife showed up, and we all headed in.
The thing starts, and here comes my son heading out in the very first scene. That was the first surprise. The second surprise is that they were doing “A Christmas Carol.” How could he not have known they were doing that play? His part was as a group of Christmas carolers standing under a streetlamp. And now it made sense. White shirt, so they could put a jacket and scarf over it. No jeans, because they didn’t wear them back then. Well, maybe if they were panning gold or shoeing horses, but not out Christmas caroling. And no tennis shoes, because they weren’t period-correct. Still, a far cry from a storm trooper shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
And with that example of the importance of getting to the heart of the matter, I wish you all a Merry little Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I’m going to take a break from the blog for a couple of weeks. See you all on the other side.