September 28, 2010

The Ghosts Of Fashion

When I was a kid, I'd become horrified at what my parents were wearing. For the most part, they were (and remain) pretty hip but occasionally they'd throw on something that chilled my fashion-sensitive teenage ass to its core (ew). And then I'd pretend that I didn't know them.

Now, all this should be viewed through the lens of the fashion fads that I inevitably fell for. The Guess jeans with the pretentious little triangle on the back right ass-cheek. The Frankie Say Relax shirts (it only occurred to me last week - last week - why it was Frankie Say and not Frankie slow). Rolled up jeans cuffs. Ripped jeans and flannel. Fluorescent everything (except underwear...I don't think I ever had fluorescent underwear). Twelve Swatches. So, yeah, I'm not one to talk.

On Sunday, the four of us went on a bike ride. I found myself wearing bright read work-out shorts, crappy sneakers, unbrushed hair and an old brown Pink Floyd shirt. I looked kinda like an athletic hobo. It was then - September 26th at 2:14 PM - that I realized I'd crossed over the River Fashion into the land of Don't Give A Fuck.

Don't Give A Fuck is a nice place, much different than the authoritarian, uptight place I used to live run by the dictators Wang, Klein, Gunn and Vuitton. That's not to say I don't care about my appearance. I do. I'm just not obsessed.

One day I will horrify my children. But that probably won't be restricted to fashion.

What did your parents do that most horrified you as a kid?

Posted by Chris at September 28, 2010 6:49 AM

Go on with your bad fashion self! And, I just googled the meaning of Frankie Say Relax....oh my, not at all what I always thought! Next you are going to tell me that ZZ Top was not talking about jewelry in Pearl Necklace?? ;)

Posted by: Debbie at September 28, 2010 6:59 AM

At my older brother's wedding, my dad got into a dancing contest with some of my brother's fraternity buddies and my dad's moves included some of those Russian kicks, complete with the throwing his arms up and hollering. One of the frat guys comes up to me at one point and says, "Boy, it must be embarrassing to have your dad get so drunk and act like this." I looked at him and said, "He's not drunk. That's just how he is."

Didn't horrify me, but amused the hell out of me. Dad and I still laugh about it to this day. ;)

Posted by: Traci at September 28, 2010 9:00 AM

Now my mom - she deserves a separate post because she does manage to embarrass her kids on occasion.

The one that stands out most in my mind is the time my dad took us all out for Thanksgiving Dinner so my mom wouldn't have to cook and could relax. We ate a lovely turkey dinner with all the fixings, and then the waiter brought over the dessert menu.

To which my mother loudly exclaimed "$16 a person for dinner and it doesn't even include a slice of pie???"

Posted by: Traci at September 28, 2010 9:04 AM

Everything. We weren't close!

Posted by: Maribeth at September 28, 2010 9:17 AM

I have vivid memories of my dad trying (and succeeding!) to embarrass me by doing the "Running Man" dance in the middle of a crowded mall.

Ah. What fun.

Posted by: Sarah at September 28, 2010 9:22 AM

My Dad used to pull the biggest fashion error EVAR.. which was sandals with socks. I swear my mom used to die a little each time he would do that. LOL.

And if he wore sneakers and socks, the socks were pulled ALL THE WAY to his knees. Hahaa. Other than that, my dad was a pretty hip guy. :)

Posted by: jen at September 28, 2010 10:24 AM

It was parent's night at a football game during my older brother's senior year, and all the parents of the players were individually called to walk across the field. My parents' names were called and they turned to each other and chest bumped. They proceeded to chest bump down the field every few yards or so. My 14 year-old self wanted to crawl under the bleachers and die!

Posted by: Abbie at September 28, 2010 10:28 AM

I had completely different standards for adults than I did for kids regarding fashion, so it never really bothered me what my parents wore. I do remember being in college and watching old videos of myself in middle school and being horrified at the stuff I wore that my mom had bought me. Neither Mom nor I had any clue about fashion at the time.

But I think the thing that horrified me the most at the time it was actually happening was that my mom insisted on giving out Christian activity booklets (tracts in disguise) taped to peppermints for Halloween. PEPPERMINTS! Talk about the lamest Halloween give-away EVER. If you're going to insist on evangelizing on Halloween, it had better be taped to a King Size Snickers Bar.

Posted by: Amy at September 28, 2010 12:18 PM

This is only remotely related to fashion, but I can recall at least one time that my mom horrified me in public.

Once, when I was very young (less than 10, probably 7 or 8) we were in a department store shopping for back-to-school clothes. Mom had selected several packs of underwear for me ("tightey whiteys" as we say). As I was a growing boy, she questioned me while we were waiting for the clerk to ring everything up: "Are you sure these are the right size for you?" I said yes, I thought they were.

The unsuspecting clerk piped in at that moment, with a mundane comment: "Just so you know, if the package is opened, we can't accept them as a return or store credit." [Due to hygienic reasons, obviously.]

My mom absolutely went ballistic - out of the clear blue! She raged at the clerk, asked her if she thought she was stupid, and demanded to see the store manager ASAP. LOUDLY. As the rancor gained momentum, people started to take note and stare. After about 5 minutes of this, I slunk away and hid in the middle of those round clothes racks until my mom calmed down enough, finally, and realized that I was nowhere to be found.

I only emerged from my hiding place when she began to panic ... by then she had paid for our stuff and we were ready to leave.

"The underwear story" lives on in my family's lore now. My mom is still insulted by the clerk's comments to this day - and I remain MORTIFIED by her horrific display. :)

Posted by: Mark V at September 28, 2010 1:30 PM

We lived on 11 acres in the country. My mom would sunbathe in the nude. Eeeeewwww!

Posted by: Heather at September 28, 2010 1:56 PM

In two words: GOLF PANTS

My mom brought home a pair of white pants with what looked like life savers all over them, in bright, primary colors. I told her they were horrible ! She said he will LOVE them....and he did. Sadly, the only picture we have of him in them is in black and white !!

Posted by: Annie at September 28, 2010 2:58 PM

So... I never knew there was a reason why it was "Frankie SAY" instead of "Frankie Says" either. I googled it, but didn't find the answer. I need to know!

Posted by: Tammy at September 28, 2010 4:36 PM

My mother used to WHISTLE to get us to come home. I didn't say USE a whistle, SHE WHISTLED. And it wasn't a two fingers in the mouth WHEEEET it was a Whhhooooo-Whhhhoooooo. Since we lived in a circle (picture a cul-de-sac but the land being the inner circle with road going round and off in different directions), we were able to hear it from anywhere in the neighborhood. Everyone would say "hey girls, isn't that your mother calling you????"

Posted by: NancyJ at September 28, 2010 5:27 PM

Yeah, found myself dropping Nick off in dirty yoga pants, a smelly t-shirt with no bra... I think I've settled nicely into don't give a shit.

As for my parents, god... it seems I was mortified from age 13 to about 21 or so.

Posted by: Nat at September 28, 2010 6:46 PM

omg, what DIDN'T my parents do to horrify me as a kid? i was suuuuper sensitive to it, too. like i still have PTSD but have come to some terms with it. let's start with the white Eagle my dad drove. can you imagine being dropped off at school in one of those?

i have also entered the land of who gives a fuck, but i keep telling myself that as long as i'm running errands in super cute anthropologie lounge pants, they don't completely qualify as sweatpants, right? right?!

Posted by: kati at September 28, 2010 8:24 PM

So, you live in a land ruled by Wang?

Yes, I am 12.

I remember once going to the mall with my mom and step-dad and they were wearing those remarkably clever 'Stupid'/'I'm With Stupid' t-shirts, where the 'I'm With Stupid' shirt had a hand pointing over at the person wearing the 'Stupid' shirt. The step-dad wore the 'Stupid' shirt, which was 110% appropriate, but even at the elderly age of 5 I was appalled that my mother (a heavy reader, good conversationalist) would stoop so low as to not just marry such a person, but also publicly acknowledge her folly.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at September 29, 2010 8:31 AM

two words:
* croched
* beanies

My dad had a "winter" one (black & white triangles) and a "summer" one (colourful triangles). My folks were (are) basically normal (and all told, FAR more well adjusted I've grown to learn), but in the conservative little farm community we were in, they stood out as raging, flaming hippies. And I would rather have just blended right in to the scenery. I'm better now, but still, the beanies could have been done without.

Posted by: harmzie at September 29, 2010 1:44 PM

I knew that time - "It was then - September 26th at 2:14 PM - that I realized I'd crossed over the River Fashion into the land of Don't Give A Fuck" - sounded familiar. "Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."

My dad did all the usual stuff: socks with leather sandals, ball caps with perfectly flat brims and high-standing crowns. I imagine kids all over the world look at their parents and cringe.

Posted by: Foggy Dew at October 1, 2010 11:18 AM

I also had the mortifying nude sunbathing parents... but in the back garden (6ft fence) in TOWN. This would be a stomach-churning shock to my mates who sometimes came over for lunch and were more aquainted with my stuffy british parents drinking tea with woolly sweaters on listening to opera. Seriously embaressing.

Posted by: english thorn at October 1, 2010 6:31 PM