The Christmas party dress

He’s not even 15 years old yet, but I know for a fact that my son will to grow up to be a good man. I know this because I tricked him into going holiday party dress shopping with me, and while there will be a great deal of therapy to follow, to his credit, the teenage wonder endured the horror without a temper tantrum or a mood swing. I wish I could say the same.

A trip to the mall to buy my towering teen new pants coincided with the reality that I had two weeks before the only Christmas party of my holiday season, and I did not have an outfit. Don’t roll your eyes at me, I really didn’t have an outfit to wear. Most of the time you will find me in the blessed state of spandex leggings and oversized sweatshirts: a human sausage in with a devil-may-care ponytail and big socks to round out the look, (frumpy is the new black).

Aside from our hazel eyes, a twisted sense of humour, and a fondness for long car rides, my son and I are very different creatures. He no longer shows emotion, (beyond anger). He finds the sounds of bodily functions not only satisfying, but worthy of public announcements, and he thinks rap music is actually music. Silly boy. But after this latest shopping trip, I learned we share another fundamental trait: a phobia of trying on clothes. The trauma runs deep, though I suspect it is for very different reasons.

His flat-out refusal to try on new pants was clearly expressed in the words “absolutely not happening,” followed by an adorable grimace that had me go direct to the checkout. Would they fit? We risked it.

My turn. One change room, five dresses and a teenage son sitting outside on a bench, head buried in his hood as if believing he was invisible made him so. Yet, he endured a horrific fashion show of sequins, beads, satins and lace, not to mention the zippers that were surely broken, because there is no way in this universe I am not a size 8 anymore, you hear me?

I don’t know if it was out of fear I’d cause more of a scene that the debacle I created in the change room, or the pity he felt that his mother was so totally inept at being feminine, but my son sat patiently waiting for me to pick one dress.

Good thing my son has one of his father’s best traits: the ability to read my face and select the safest response in moments of high stress. We agreed on the black dress.

 “Can we leave now?” Yes. Absolutely, yes. Run for the exit.




Kelly Waterhouse