So, the pants. Cargo. Stretch waist. Hip and stylish. Does something like that really exist? I will tell you right now: it doesn't matter. It really does no good to even ask that question. Oh, they exist. Somewhere, some place: in Hollywood, in Glendale, in Topanga, online, in Korea, in Portland, inWest Katmandu, somewhere, those pants exist. My Dad had them. He wore them everyday. They were sporty and comfortable and cool. They were functional and fashionable. They were unique!
When I go to pick him up, my Dad is standing in the driveway wearing sweat pants and a down jacket. Hold on a minute, he says and walks back in the house to say goodbye. My brother walks back out with him. Then my brother's boyfriend comes out too, then my youngest sister, then another brother, a few friends, a couple of neighbors and the roof repair man, "Good bye! Good Luck! Be Safe!" They throw rose petals and rice. "Bye! We love you. Good bye. Come back soon". My Dad has tears in his eyes and is waving like a queen in a parade. "Bye! Love you. Mean it. Bye...bye...BYE!!!!"
We back into the cul de sac and head out.
Let's get the hell out of here, he says.
I reach across his chest and grab the belt that he's pulling from the wrong strap and get him clicked in. Let's get some goddam pants.
My Dad has bad vision, he can only see what's directly in front of him, and because of this and his bad knees, he can't do a lot of the things he has been used to doing: he can't drive, he can't walk at the usual pace. He gets a little nervous in big spaces with crowds. But he wants to go to the mall first. My Dad is a person who has a dangerous combination of bravery and delusion that I seem to have inherited. We circle the parking lot for a space. I ask him if he wants to get out by the front door. He says no. He has the heat up to 4 and we are both sweating like fat ladies in the sauna.
We are on the seventh spiral up in the parking structure and there's still not a spot. I point to his sweat pants. Do you like those pants? He looks down and then back at me. He eyes me like I'm up to something.
What do you mean?
Do you want to go to the sporting goods store across the way instead. It's easier to park. They might have some comfortable, sporty pants.
Sporty? He says the word like it's ridiculous, idiotic and insane.
"No, I don't think so". Then, he considers it more politely, "Naaaa. Let's go to the mall. They have those little..you know...those little kind of...boutiques".
I don't think of a boutique as the kind of place that sells cargo pants with a stretch waistband, but: you never really know.
In the mall, we are laughing like drunk people. My Dad keeps pretending to walk into things and then I make a fart sound. This is something he has done my entire life and though I stopped laughing at it when I was 13, for some reason, in the big mall, with the perfume and the lights and the people and the kiosks and my dad in his sweatpants and great big huge down jacket, it's funny. We've been walking in circles for an hour. We haven't found a boutique. In my mind I am looking for a small-ish store with French people and Aladdin-style magical genies that sell silk scarves and cargo pants, but really I don't know what I'm looking for.
This is it! My Dad says, pointing to H and M.
Um...uh...I love this store!
The club music is thumping and I instantly get distracted. Oh my God, look how cute, I veer off towards the women's section. Dad shuffles off to Buffalo. I'll meet you in a minute. He should probably not be left unattended in a store but he prefers it that way and I keep an eye on him. He walks over to the skinny jeans. He stands in front of a table and takes it all in; he studies the mannequin with his hands clasped behind his back and head tilted. He does this for long enough that I can go through a few racks in ladies.
I walk over to him. Do you like any of these?
See if they have red ones.
Red like a fire truck or like wine?
Red like magenta.
He points to the turquoise skinny jeans. They're not bad. All right.
We grab a pair and I steer him towards the dressing room. On the way we see a pair of pants that has a big pocket on the side and then some lounging pants with a stretch waist.
The clerk in the back counts the items and puts him in a room. I try to imagine what's happening behind the door, wonder if he needs help, but then I get completely distracted by David Beckham in the underwear display. What is it David Beckham? How do you exist? In my mind I am meditating in an Indian temple, surrounded by a shrine with thousands of David Beckham icons. Oh David Beckham! You are a wonder. You are---
What do you think? My Dad has a hand on one hip and holds his other elbow against his waist, palm lifted.
Don't stand like that, I say.
He drops his arms and stands like a soldier.
I think they look fantastic. What do you think?
I like em.
That's not very convincing, go try on the other ones. I'll wait here.
I hear my Dad whistling and saying This is it! This is what I'm looking for. These are perfect! He steps out smiling.
I take a look. I study the pants. I look at his face (proud!). I ask him to turn around. He does. I ask him to turn back. He does.
They're nice Dad, but you have them on backwards.
That square pocket right there? That's supposed to be on the back.
He starts laughing, What?...I mean... what am I. He suddenly can't speak he is laughing so hard. He is laughing so hard he has tears and I think for a minute he is yanking my chain, but he's not.
It's the waist band, I say. It's confusing.
He heads back to the dressing room, closes the door, he is still giggling. Then he lets out a long end of laugh sigh: aaaahhhhh. He stays in there for a while. I lean my head against the door to listen. It's very quiet in there.
Are you okay, Dad?
I think I'm done.
Those pants are good.
(He shakes his head).
You should get those.
I don't know.
They're 20 bucks. Just get em.
They're comfortable. They're for lounging.
They're not the right--
Dad! They're 20 bucks! They're just pants! You can get a couple pair. You don't have to just get--
I think I'm done.(He says it like he's lying on his death bed).
(I answer like a little kid who can not imagine such a thing).What?
Yeah, let's go.
You want to go?
Maybe you just need food.
I don't think so.
Yeah come on, we need some food. We need water. We need supplies.
to be continued