My sister did try to help me out when we were younger. She told me that my elephant bell bottoms were hopelessly out of style, but I wore them for another year or two past their expiration date anyway. She tried to point out that my shaggy hairdo needed a trim, but I refused to do anything about it. I was diametrically opposed to being stylish.
Obstinate is a good word, because it really had nothing to do with style. I wasn’t rebelling against the status quo, I was rebelling pointlessly. Anything anyone offered to me as advice or suggestion I immediately turned against. Lisa was trying to help me present a better Matt to the world, but I was uninterested.
She might very well have also said that I should perhaps be changing my clothes a little more often. There was no reason a high school boy should wear the same jeans every single day for months on end—certainly not if washings were few and far between. And to let an entire week go by with only a single change of shirt might have been an olfactory offense to sicken the entire school.
Like just about any teenager, I had my ways, and I was going to stick with them through thick and thicker. I had no use for advice.
My son sometimes has no use for advice, either. Especially mine. I realize this is somewhat natural, and as long as he doesn’t paint his room black or pierce himself or burn me in effigy on the back lawn I can live with most of it. There are times when Kyle does accept advice, however, and most notably that’s when it comes to fashion advice from his sisters.
Maybe my indifference originated because I had only one older sister. It was like a tennis match: she’d serve, I’d volley, she’d try again, and then I’d walk away because I was sometimes stupid. Okay, often. Kyle isn’t so lucky. He has two older sisters, and they can tag team him (in my solitary wrestling metaphor for this week) or team up two-on-one (for my third and final sports metaphor).
Kyle has come to accept that if Kate and Kelsey are telling him the same thing, he might be wise to consider it. That shows a certain maturity, but it makes it difficult for me to relate. I simply don’t understand his passion for clothes and hair.
He currently has something like four pairs of jeans. Based on their color and their fit, they are to be worn only in certain situations. Recently he asked me to take him shopping for a new pair. I naturally refused because, like I said, he’s already got four. I have one, a habit that has worked for me since I was his age. Four is just ridiculous.
When it comes to his hairstyle, Kyle also takes recommendations. He has been known to take a picture from a magazine and, escorted by a sister, proceed to identify exactly what he’d like the hairdresser to do. Sometimes he gets a little shaggy, but when it comes time for a coiffure he is all about sideburn length and whether or not he will be able to comb it up into one of those faux hawks that are all the rage with the young boys.
He also uses a variety of products in his hair and on his body, and smells positively scrumptious when he exits the bathroom. This is my son? The last time I smelled scrumptious was, well, let’s see, probably never. If something smells scrumptious and I’m in the room, I think we can all agree: it ain’t me.
When I was Kyle’s age the barber did whatever he thought was right, and I lived with it. Probably why I didn’t go back until I couldn’t see through the mass. The last product I put in my hair was some greasy junk called Valvoline or something like that. Maybe it was Vitalis. Regardless, I’m pretty sure I stopped when I was eight years old.
It was greasy and took too much time to apply and I just didn’t care. Hair and clothes weren’t that important to me when I was a kid. I think it is pretty clear that they still aren’t. Which makes me curious about Kyle’s desire to look fashionable and smell like soap.
Come to think of it, I’m probably just jealous.