A Change of Style

Posted on September 1, 2011


Home again, home again.

I made it back to Shanghai this morning, and I had previously told my wife not to make a big fuss, which is probably why nobody met me at the airport.  Probably also why nobody met me at home either.  And probably why my wife didn’t answer the phone when I called her at work multiple times during the day.

Sometimes when my dad was out of town, my mom would take the opportunity to paint or redecorate a room she thought he might object to, and I wondered if my wife would do anything similar.  The first thing I noticed was that she had redecorated all the front doors by changing the locks and now my keys no longer worked.  She must have also redecorated her phone number because as I mentioned before, the old one wasn’t working.

My wife explained I shouldn't read too much into the change of locks, insisting that lots of people today are decorating their doors with long chains and padlocks.

I finally did see them in the afternoon when they got home from school and work, and 67% of the three of them remembered my name on the first try.  The kids looked older and The Fonz had two fewer teeth.  I pretended to be excited to see the teeth, but every time he loses a tooth I remember he was already eating slow when he had all his teeth and the loss of two more can only slow the process.

Because we hadn’t seen each other in six weeks, I was expecting big changes, similar to the start of a new school year as a kid when the friend who had been a polo-shirt-wearing preppy his whole life shows up the first day back dressed as a slacker skater or a gangster.  When I was a kid, every summer vacation tempted me with the opportunity to reinvent myself over the summer.  A three month break was just long enough for kids to forget who you were in the spring, so you could start over in the fall with a whole new image for them to forget over the following summer.

A few years ago, I tried to convince my wife to dress more punk rock.  (Whenever I feel an early mid-life crisis coming on, I try and convince my wife to make a big change in her life in the hopes it will bring me out of my funk without any effort on my part.)  We both dress pretty conservatively–she wears classy dresses and I wear smoking jackets–and I wish one of us had an edgy style.  I say I wish it were one of us, but I really mean I wish it were her because she’d make me look cool by association without my having to give up my beloved smoking jackets.   I imagine her as a punk librarian with a streak of pink in her hair, a denim jacket covered with buttons, and a nose ring leaning over her library reference desk to whisper, “Shhh!”  She considered giving it a try, but Optimist Prime told her he would be embarrassed to have a mom with a nose ring.

At dinner tonight, I announced this break from seeing each other has given us all the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and choose a new image since I couldn’t remember what any of their images had been six weeks ago.  The classic style categories of skater, punk, preppy, hipster, gangster, etc. have all been overdone, so I encouraged my family to think outside the box and choose original images.

The Fonz picked a name for his style, The Ninja Grandpa, but he’s having a hard time describing how it will look.  Basically, it will be a ninja, but a very old ninja.

Optimist Prime actually dresses like a hipster a couple times a week, and he’s been pretty happy with his results, but he’s willing to try something new and adapt the hipster to The Hipster Hobo.  He’s also interested in The Pretentious Independent Documentary Filmmaker because of his interest in directing movies, but I warned him he’s too nice a kid to ever believably pull off pretentious.

My wife picked  The Telemarketer.  Her hair will be cut and styled to resemble a headset, she’ll speak with a quick, fake warmth, and she’ll never take no for an answer.

At this time I’m considering the following styles for myself: The Steam-punk Horticulturalist, The Pirate Tiger Woods, or The Sad Robot Butler.   Any other suggestions?

Posted in: Family