Begin to notice that while both sons have enough t-shirts to last them until college, their wardrobe is lacking considerably in the shorts department.  Specifically, take note of the tighter and shorter fit around their legs.  Casually ask them if they have noticed or care that things are a little snug.  When they stare blankly back at you cut to the chase and explain to them that entering the seventh and ninth grades wearing size 10-12 shorts is grounds for getting beat up. As they continue to stare at you, announce that you are taking them shopping for shorts.  Wait for the excitement to build.  Keep waiting.  Forever.  Tell them it’s happening on Saturday whether they like it or not.

On Saturday, give boys a 30 minute warning.  Announce that you are going to Old Navy because they have a really cheap wide selection.  When oldest son takes note that there is a Game Stop next door to Old Navy, calmly explain that getting a reward for going clothes shopping was only something that Mom did when he was a child. Last year.

Announce that there will be no electronics in the car on the 5 minute ride to the store.  When asked why not, explain that you plan to use the time to have individual fashion consultations with each of them so that the trip will be smooth.  Ignore eye rolling. Pile into van with each child oddly fighting for the back seat.

Explain that today they will be purchasing shorts.  Tell them that they really need jeans shorts and cargo pants.  Older son shares with you that he recently became aware that “real men don’t wear jeans shorts.” Make mental note to let husband know he is not a real man.  Younger son insists he will never wear cargo pants.  Older says he is “fine with the whole shopping thing” as long as he doesn’t have to try anything on.  He HATES trying things on.  Younger son agrees, and adds that he is a real man and will not be purchasing any jeans shorts either.  Officially declare the fashion consultation over.  Older son asks why you are driving so fast.

Upon entering the store, ask where the real men and boys sections are.  Store clerk explains that they are at opposite corners of the floor.  In fact, they couldn’t be further apart.  Suggest that younger son go “check out” what’s in the boys section and report back.  He looks at you as if you suggested he enter a rat-infested, burning crack house on his own.  Let him tag along as you assess the men’s selection with older son.

While older son is now taller than you, he still has the hips of a teenage girl.  Look to see what the smallest size shorts are.  Insist that he try on the 28 and 29 to see which is the best fit, to which he reluctantly agrees.  Wait outside dressing room with younger son as older son takes what feels like an inordinate amount of time to try on two pairs of shorts.  When you call in and ask if he is ok, older son reminds you how much he HATES trying things on.  Apparently that is why he is moving so slow.  Finally he emerges and announces that there is no difference between the 28 and 29.  Tell him to go pick out three more pairs and meet you and younger son in the boys section.  Like a reflex, he asks if he can pick out five more pairs. Tell him fine.  Clearly this was the right answer because the Universe immediately rewards you for your generosity when he announces he will not be purchasing anything with camouflage.  Yay.

Enter the boys section with younger son, who remains completely mortified to be there.  Walk him over to the wall of cargo shorts and ask which ones he likes.  He reminds you that he likes NONE.  Begin to surrender and then think twice.  You are the still the grown up and you have perhaps another year or two during which time you can play fashion dictator.  Embrace the power.  Tell him that he WILL be buying some cargo shorts so pick a damn color.  How about grey?  When somehow the kid doesn’t like grey, suggest tan, blue or army green.  Insist on one pair of plaid. Tell him that if he doesn’t cry you will buy him the socks he has been asking for.  Hope no one in the store is from Child Protective Services.  Somehow manage to pick out three pairs of shorts.  Head to sock section where younger son ponders the merits of crew vs. ankle socks for 10 minutes.

At that moment, older brother happily appears with eight pairs of shorts of which two are remarkably camouflage.  When questioned, he offers an explanation that has something to do with presenting the right amount of public support for Modern Warfare III without looking too fanatical.  Begin to respond but then notice he has also selected a Hawaiian shirt and a red, white and blue tank top clearly designed by Kid Rock.  Ask the rhetorical question:” Are you going to WEAR that?”  He replies in the affirmative and you head to checkout where older son informs you that Old Navy also sells Jones Cream Soda. Ponder offering to swap the Kid Rock tank top for a six pack, but quickly realize the slippery slope that would create.  Pay and exit.  Elapsed time:  26 minutes.

Upon arriving home, younger son tries on the two pairs of cargo pants you forced him to buy.  Somehow you managed to purchase Capri pants for your 12 year old.  Before the tears fall, tell him you will return everything. You are sorry.  He was right.  He will never have to be scared of cargo pants again.  They are evil.  Flee house alone and quickly purchase 20 pairs of athletic shorts for younger son. Plus a new Phillies shirt.  And a case of cream soda.  And a Ferrari.  Race home and present your peace offering, which younger son eyes with great suspicion before accepting.  On his way upstairs, he informs you with a smile that his new socks don’t fit either.

Wonder why you suddenly feel tired.  Sit down in chair.  As you begin to drift off while sitting up, thank the Universe for putting you back in the good graces of your sons — and for being wise enough not  to have given you girls.

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