Sometimes teachable moments come with wigs and fake mustaches.
For those of you who know me personally, it may come as a surprise when I say that up until this weekend, I’m pretty sure my husband and I hadn’t yet mortally embarrassed our son, Tony. Sure, there’s been lots of “Mom, would you please stop (dancing, singing, being generally goofy, etc.)??” After all, I am me. But this weekend brought a little more significant mortification potential.
A dear friend’s birthday party was also a costume party, and Mike and I knew it was our calling to attend as the ’80s pop duo Hall and Oates. The look came together pretty nicely and included a mullet wig for Mike/Hall and a black, curly wig for me/Oates.
Mike grew some sideburn chops for his look, and with a little coloring help, they blended right into his mullet that was fanned out into a coif of ’80s glory. Daryl would be proud.
My Oates’ wig could also serve as the wig Jan Brady wore in her attempt to get noticed over Marcia in the Brady Bunch movie parody, as well as Groucho Marx or Mr. Kotter (at least that was the word on the street). To complete the rockin’ look, I sported a groovy ‘stache that just may have looked like a newly born puppy snuggling on my upper lip.
We looked authentic, as some people might say. Others might say other things.
Since the party was a surprise (and kids were included), we kept our son out of the loop so he wouldn’t spill the beans, and when we did finally explain, he was apprehensively excited. “You’re going to wear those?” While he thought it was very funny, he also had the nervous laugh of someone who didn’t know if he should run away from home now or later.
When we donned the full look and got into the car to go to the party, Tony’s mortification settled in. He was wearing his Halloween costume which, though it was a biker skeleton dude, was still much subtler than his parents. We all enjoyed pulling up to stoplights and seeing people notice us, but the idea that people we knew and loved were going to see us making fools of ourselves was unsettling to him.
We reassured him that it was going to be better than all right — it was going to be downright fun. Over the course of the ride, he accepted that he was going to live through whatever the night might bring.
He is our kid, after all, and he does have a very big silly bone. But he is also at that stage of weighing what other people think and deciding how much all that matters — and sometimes that doesn’t make it easy to embrace your inner silly.
At the party, there were people in varying degrees of costume — some full-blown participants and others who had a little something on in the spirit of things. I think I’m safe in saying most people were amused at our look. From the bad hair to the increasingly moist ‘stache (how do you mustache wearers eat and drink with that thing?!?!), there were lots of giggles to be had. Let’s just say Hall and Oates kissed a few times. Let’s just say it was weird.
Over the course of the night, Tony went from being embarrassed to wanting to wear my mustache and wig. He realized that it was more than okay to be silly — it was a whole lot of fun. Fun for us and fun for others. Sometimes you just gotta let your hair down. Or your fro out, so to speak.
I hope the lesson sticks for him, but I know it will be a lifelong journey of knowing that it’s okay to let the silly out. Luckily, he’s got a mom and dad who can be pretty serious about being silly.
The wigs are put away for now, but they can be ready at a moment’s notice…
Lisa Ancona-Roach works part-time in one world, tries to write in another, manages a household in yet another, and, finally, tries to be present in her various relationships, including wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, co-worker…and whatever else she’s forgetting. She calls it living the Juggle Struggle.