It's high school homecoming season in Iowa, which means “School Spirit Week,” which means teens across the Hawkeye state are rummaging through their parents' closets for the most out of date, dorkiest clothes they can possibly find.
Which means parents across Eastern Iowa can be heard saying “But wait! I just wore that last week!” in addition to the usual “Are you wearing that to school?”
This year I found my sartorial choices challenged by “Tourist Day.” Things started on a positive note, strangely enough, with a boost to my “Cool Mom” status. Both Little Angels wanted to borrow a Hawaiian shirt, which they knew I, as a “Cool Mom” had.
Unfortunately, in preparation for the great remodel I had actually cleared a few things out of my closet – including my three Hawaiian shirts. Shirts which they had previously ridiculed, I might add. Now my fashionistas were all “Oh, how could you... why would you....” Princess Pack Rat was able to one-up her brother, as she had snagged one shirt out of the donation bag and set about teasing him with it.
In order to keep familial harmony and avoid forever being labeled “The Mom Formerly Known as Cool,” I made a trip to the mall with The Princess acting as a proxy shopper. We selected a very nice, almost-not-obnoxious Hawaiian shirt, which we thought would fit The Prince.
And then the Little Prince went to the mall with his friends and picked out another one. In XXL. All three of us could wear it at the same time.
Shirt problem solved, the Little Angels started arguing over who would get to borrow my fanny pack. Once again, “Cool Mom” was called on for the costume rescue.
“Yeah, all the tourists wear those nerdy things,” they said.
“Huh, wha? Wait, what makes you think I have a... I'll have you know they're quite handy!”
Yes, I do have a small (?) bag which can be carried around my waist so as to free up my hands and shoulders to carry a bunch of other crap my family members don't want to carry themselves. When the children were younger I frequently used it to carry a variety of important supplies – money, band aids, money, wet wipes, Kleenex, money, hand sanitizer, and, oh yes, money! – on our adventures.
My ego was only somewhat bruised by all this until The Princess asked if she could borrow my khaki shorts. Ahhh. Finally! Khaki shorts, something nearly everyone has, sometime timeless, classic, not at all nerdy. Why sure, she could borrow my khaki shorts.
“Good. Dorky 'Mom Shorts' will really complete the look.”
Since when did shorts that cover your wha-hoo become dorky?
The King has escaped relatively unscathed by all this, although the children are disappointed that he doesn't wear sandals – or mandals – which they wanted to wear with socks to complete their ensembles. I tried to point out that he does wear black socks with shorts and work boots, but they did not find this to be nerdy enough for their purposes.
Really? Really, people?
All this pales in comparison to last year's “80's Day" debacle. Despite how many yearbook photos you show them, current high school students continue to show up for “80's Day" dressed like extras from “Flash Dance.” Or worse. I'll be the first to admit, the 80's were dark days for fashion, but they weren't that dark.
BTW, shoulder pads? Awesome. Big hair? Not so much.
I don't remember scavenging through my mom's closet for Spirit Week, but then again, it wouldn't have done me much good. I already had the overalls (a sweet purple pair!) and socks for “Overhaul and Sock 'Em” Day. My beloved vinyl go-go boots from color guard were repurposed for “Punk (rock) 'Em” Day (because, why not?). And who didn't love "Hat Day"? (Although it has been discontinued because apparently wearing a hat to school is too disruptive to the learning process... during a week of disruptive activities.)
In small town Iowa, circa early 1980's, "Dress Like a Farmer" or "Dress Like a Cowboy" day were almost guaranteed a 100% success rate – who didn't have jeans and a button down shirt? The only difference between the two costumes in our minds was the ever disruptive head gear. Did you go for the seed cap or the cowboy hat? Hot on the heels of “Urban Cowboy,” we all had cowboy hats of one type or another.
In fact, most of our ideas about cowboy attire came from that movie, which, upon reflection may have lacked authenticity. We may have been subject to revisionist fashion history, just like today's youth and their limited 1980's fashion knowledge. Come to think of it, there has probably always been a gap between reality and fun when it comes to dress up days at school.
I can picture the scene now: 1793, France
Louis XVI: Darling, have you seen my old, lounge around the castle crown?
Marie Antoinette: The Dauphin wore it to school for something called “Storm the Bastille Day.”
Louis: I have a bad feeling about this....
Marie: I'm sure it's nothing to lose your head over.
Or something like that.