On a recent Saturday night, I walked into a dark closet in the middle of a crowded restaurant at the same time my son was at home, drawing a bra on his bare chest with a marker.
Allow me to explain how these two things are connected.
I almost never go out. I’m rather famous for it. But once in a while I go against the grain that is me and do a date night with my husband. On this particular night, we were out with our dear friends, Erin and Peck. Erin and I went to college together. We met during our chubby-from-too-many-parties-and-pizza days. There is great comfort in being with someone who knew you when you were a 20-something mess and who loves you even more now that you’re a 40-something mess.
Because we don’t go out very often, we don’t have a stable of babysitters, but there is a new girl named Kate, a fresh faced college coed who can play football and wrestle and who makes my nine year old son get red faced and bashful at the mention of her name.
The last time Kate babysat, my son did all manner of things to impress her, to make her laugh. He drew pictures for her to hang in her dorm room, he put on his sister’s dress up gowns (something he would never do for his sister) and he got into my bureau, prancing around the living room with my bras draped across his scrawny chest. It worked. Kate laughed. Kate took photos of him (God knows how far those photos traveled across Georgia Tech).
On this night I told Kate and my son, “No going in Mommy’s room. No putting on Mommy’s bras.” Kate grinned. He looked deflated. It had clearly been part of his performance plan for the evening.
Back to me and my big night out. After dinner, we stopped by a new place that was supposed to have a nice view of the city. When we arrived, we quickly discovered we could be parents to some of the patrons. After one drink, we decided to leave. It was almost 9 p.m. afterall.
Erin and I were walking in front of our husbands, chatting and laughing, as we made our way through the crowded bar area. As we passed a group of much younger men, several heads turned in our direction and ‘hellos’ were uttered. To us. Flustered by the attention, Erin and I kept walking, but our conversation was replaced by nervous chatter and giggles of, “Oh my God, I could babysit him.” And then we were in the dark. Facing a wall.
In our confusion and giddiness, we had walked, not into the stairwell, but into a closet. And that gaggle of handsome, much too young men, had watched us do it. I don’t remember what we said to each other at that moment in the blackness. I likely cursed. But there was only one way out. We turned and walked out of the closet, back by the same group of men, toward the stairwell, where our waiting husbands stood with quizzical looks on their faces. I cannot tell you what the cute boys did this time because the roaring in my head drowned out whatever they may have said. In the safety of the stairwell, we laughed until we couldn’t breathe, clutching our knees with each step.
When we got home, Kate announced, “He found a loophole.”
Knowing my delicates were off limits, my son had told Kate that night, “I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
And then he smiled that smile he reserves for girls who make his cheeks pinken.
He emerged a few moments later, shirtless, a bra drawn on his chest with red marker.
I apologized to Kate.
“Are you kidding me? I love your kid. He’s hilarious.”
After Kate left, I went to his room and saw that, despite her efforts to wash it off, much of the drawn on bra remained.
Standing over his bed while he slept, his bony rib cage smudged with red marker, we were guilty of the same thing, him and me.
We had played dress up that night. Sometimes, as in his case, it works, and the girl laughs with delight, and likes you.
And sometimes, as in his mother’s case, and you wind up in the closet.