Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Shopping Trip

Yesterday I took my son on the dreaded shopping trip for the enigmatic "black jazz shoes" specified for his knight costume.

Hunting around online a few days ago, I discovered that this was something I couldn't buy without physically trying them on his feet. Sizing was wildly variable and had no relationship to regular boy shoe sizes.

My son was apprehensive about going to a dance supply store to buy dance shoes. I think he imagined a giant sign outside the store that screamed GIRLS ONLY IF YOU ARE A BOY WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE? I didn't think it would be that bad but I did imagine that it would be the kind of store that looked like a pink explosion had nearly knocked it off it's foundation.

Once I found the store in an unfamiliar part of town, we both steeled ourselves and bravely entered the double doors. My son made a bee-line for the back of the store, pulling me along, somehow guided by his shoe-finding radar. I was instantly fascinated and trying to move as slowly as possible to take in the merchandise stacked all the way to the very high ceilings. Profusions of cotton candy tutus, pink, flesh and black racks of leotards, Sarah Palin costumes and giant octopus costumes, racks of sparkly hair ornaments. We arrived in the shoe area and stood there with dazed looks until a very kind salesgirl asked if we needed help. It wasn't really a question, she could tell we did. We asked for black jazz shoes and she disapeared. Coming back with a few pairs to try on, she tried to engage my son in conversation. "What kind of dance do you do?" My son answered, "I don't." With a confused smile she looked at me and I helpfully offered that he was in CMT. Getting ready to try the shoes on my son, I really looked at him for the first time that afternoon and realized that his legs jutting out from his basketball shorts were covered in dirt, mud and what looked like tire tracks. He was a mess. A very boy mess. The salesgirl looked at him and said, "You play soccer?" He smiled.

Along came another customer in the shoe department. A man (boy?) of indeterminate age looking for ballet shoes. Black ballet shoes. When asked the inevitable "where do you dance?" from the salesgirl, he answered San Jose Ballet. He had his little pomeranian/chiuhuahua dog there too, which was also male. Looking over to see if my son noticed the maleness of the population in the store, I saw that his attention had been captured by the display right near the shoes.

Helpfully, the stockings and tights are on a large display right near the shoes. My son was curiously looking at all the packages of fishnet hose, thigh-high stockings, and garters. The photos of the models on these packages, torso-less, underwear-less, and provocatively posed could qualify for an R rating. Just as he pointed at a package and was about to ask me something about the garter-belt/stocking get-up on it, I grabbed his hand and made a bee-line for the register at the front.

Ha! The person at the register was a man! Ha! The customer in front of us was a man too!

The customer was a man . . . an older man, who clearly was NOT a dancer. Trust me on this. I stood the usual distance away. What was he doing? He was talking to the clerk, trying to decide on something, but I got the feeling that he would much rather be at the register alone. Without the mom and kid behind him. He gave us a few furtive glances. Then I saw that he was trying to decide between two items which appeared to me to be some kind of flesh-colored speedo/jockstrap/sling kind of things. Apparently he wasn't sure what size would fit. I involuntarily took a step back. I was overwhelmed by the momentary mental image of THAT customer wearing THAT item. Another step back. The clerk encouraged the man to take the slings to the dressing room.

Meanwhile my son is captivated by the display of crazy sunglasses near the register and is trying on a pair with lenses the shape and size of limes and trying to get my attention. "Mom! MOM! Don't you think Dad would like these?"

In the car on the way home I asked my son if he noticed that almost every person in the dance supply store was a man. And did he hear, one of them was even a ballet dancer. He looked at me with a curious expression and said, "No. Mom, I don't really listen to other people's conversations like you do."

A few minutes later he said, "Mom, I'm really glad I don't have to wear tights for this show."

I smiled, even giggled a little. "Me too."

Just wait until I tell him he has to wear makeup.


Michael Mulcahy said...

Having purchased dozens of jazz shoes and costumes up the wazooo over the years, this made me smile. At the famous dance and costume shops that have graced San Jose over the years (larry's, victorias 1st come to mind), I was taught how to tie a tie at 8, a bow tie at 10, what the HE++ a dance belt was at 13 and even got a date from Larry's at 16. Fun to think about on a Friday!

Amber said...

So that speedo sling thing is called a dance belt?? I still have so much to learn as a mom of boys . . .