Monkey see, monkey dress (Part 2) | Chuck's World
Phew. We made it through a weekend without snow, and now it’s almost March.
Our storm season is statistically pretty much over, and we survived without making any headlines, which is fine with us.
No news is good news, and the fact that we’ve managed to make it through another winter unscathed and produced a Super Bowl champion at the same time justifies a universe in which God loves us best, and we’re OK with that.
Next weekend looks snow-free also, and while I happen to enjoy a little snow I didn’t miss the hassle this year. I also managed to miss the entire Winter Olympics for the first time in forever, for some reason totally uninterested.
And as Sunday night rolls around and the Academy Awards arrive, I’m pretty sure I’ll miss that, too.
There is a movie on my mind, though. In fact, it celebrated a 30th anniversary last summer, although if they produced a special Blu-Ray edition, I must have missed it.
On July 22, 1983, “Mr. Mom” premiered, a comedy starring Michael Keaton and Terri Garr, a gender-bending, role-reversing light sort-of rom-com that was important for several reasons.
Michael Keaton, for one. After struggling as bit player on the periphery of (mostly) television, Keaton had a hit role in 1982’s “Night Shift,” the first mainstream film directed by Ron Howard.
Following “Mr. Mom,” Keaton would make a bigger splash in a few years with “Beetlejuice” and then “Batman.”
At the same time, the script for “Mr. Mom” came from another peripheral struggler, a writer and would-be director by the name of John Hughes, whose personal experience at trying to take care of his young kids while his wife was away spurred the idea for his script about an automotive engineer forced to switch domestic duties with his wife during the recession of the early 1980s.
Mr. Hughes would make more splashes, too. And Ron Howard would make “Splash.”
Most importantly, though, “Mr. Mom” premiered four days before my 25th birthday, and four days after that I got married. I don’t want to get into a discussion about causation and correlation. Just pointing that out.
“Mr. Mom” seems silly and dated now, like an “I Love Lucy” episode from the 1950s in which Lucy wears a fake mustache and has to fill up a car with gas, or something.
The idea of a 21st-century husband and father doing laundry and changing diapers seems unremarkable and not subject matter for good comedy, although people still try. The world has changed.
It would change more quickly for me. A couple of years after “Mr. Mom,” I was living the domestic dream, juggling work schedules with my wife so that one of us would always be with our baby daughter.
By 1989, my wife had become a successful singer and I started a business out of my home, fully evolving. Laundry, cooking, diapers, play dates: These would become part of my daily routine, as I was the guy at home.
I can tell you many things, then, about the lives of domestic daddies, but let’s just say that hilarity does not ensue like in the movies. It’s just life, life that’s not particularly different than it’s ever been, even if the chromosomes in charge are slightly different.
Dishes need to be washed, homework needs to be helped, diapers will always need to be changed, and if you launder everything in cold water you will save yourself a lot of grief.
If there’s any difference between Mr. and Mrs. Mom, in fact, the only one I noticed was my (apparently) male tendency toward fashion degradation. There’s nothing particularly stunning about this, either, but maybe I was exceptional.
I just know that I quickly forgot how to wear a tie and became comfortable in clothing typically only worn inside a gym.
I constantly looked as though I’d been just rousted out of bed by the police, and those gym clothes were stained with things I can’t mention in a family newspaper except to note that some of them were cheese.
It never got better, either, even though my kids are now grown.
On the rare occasion when I have to leave the house, I usually grab a pair of pants that vaguely resemble jeans, pull on a sweatshirt, slap a baseball cap on unruly hair, and wear white socks with everything.
All of this to explain why my 29-year-old daughter, on my recent visit to her home in Austin, decided to fix me. It was time.
She was gentle. She was insistent. She led me into stores, filled my arms with clothes with strange labels and guided me into dressing rooms, waiting outside and offering helpful hints from the other side of the door (“Do they fit? Are you alive?”).
I was dubious, but she was right. And while I actually bought the same sort of clothes I always wear (jeans, sweaters, and T-shirts), they were clothes that fit and were made in this century. Everybody says so.
I came home and cleaned out my closet; Goodwill and other services should rejoice, soon, assuming there’s a sweatpants shortage.
I have a new wardrobe now, and if I reject the idea that clothes make the man, I’ll admit that they make him more likely to venture out into the world, free of cheese stains, unafraid of embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions (it can happen), and needing only dark socks to complete the picture.
Somebody send me those.