A few mornings ago, my thirteen-year-old daughter emerged from her room, prepared as usual for the discerning fashion eyes of her eighth grade peers.
"Mom," she asked, "should I wear my red Vans with this dress or my short black boots?"
The voice came from the bathroom where my wife stood crop dusting her hair with Monsanto-inspired abandon. "I'm not sure, honey. Go ask your dad."
You heard that correctly. Our house, while inhabited by three females, has dubbed the lone male, also known as me, as fashion consultant to all things feminine.
I'm pretty much the same age as those rugged-looking dudes in the commercials, the middle-aged guys who can pull a truck out of the mud with a couple of horses or fix a printing press with their bare hands…you know what I'm talking about? They've got it all, except for a little problem below the Mason-Dixon.
But here's the thing: I doubt those ads would sell any blue pills if the Marlboro man stood by his wife's closet, pointing out which infinity scarf looks better with that cashmere sweater.
Like I do.
I work in the fashion industry. I have for twenty-two years, designing advertising for a well-known apparel and shoe retailer. Most dad-types occupying my demographic pigeon hole are about as interested in women's clothing trends as the Tea Party is interested in Burger Kings without drive-throughs.
Am I fashionable personally? Sure...compared to Tom Hanks in Castaway or maybe Rush Limbaugh without the benefit of a push-up bra.
Hells no, I'm not fashionable. If I could wear basketball shorts and a t-shirt every day for the rest of my life, including weddings, funerals and dinners with Michelle and Barack, I freaking would. I'm currently lobbying for my gravestone to be inscribed, "Here lies Tim. He thought elastic was fantastic and sweatst were the best."
But after two full decades wading through terra-pixels of women's skirts, jackets, tops, pants and shoes, it's become part of my genetic makeup, similar to the Cheeto-tinted face of John Boehner.
I recently reached a new low. I caught myself using the word "pair" as a verb, as in "Why don't you just pair that sweater dress with some tall boots? No, no, leggings are fine. They're just a conduit between the boots and the dress." Shit, what a dork. I had to watch an hour of football to purge myself of that metro-sexual stench.
Occasionally, I'll discover myself talking about clothes with two or three of my wife's friends. The husbands never hang around to glean any information about the latest UGG color, as well they shouldn't. I usually join them later, timidly entering their presence, my aura still reeking of chunky chain jewelry.
Every once in a while, I'll demonstrate cutting-edge stylishness in spite of myself. That tiger design is currently sold on my company's website for sixty dollars. But as you can see, my wolf shirt puts it to shame, and at a fraction of the cost.