Virtue & Mischief: Waistlines and in-seams


The youngest amigos were born a mere 13 months apart, in August 2003 and October 2004, respectively. For those keeping score, that means that Luke (the youngest) arrived a little over 14 years ago. There are times when I can’t believe it’s ONLY been 14 years. But most of the time I am incredulous at how quickly the time has galloped by.

It seems (again, most of the time) as though it was only a heartbeat or two ago when Krista and I were changing their diapers, helping them walk, feeding them, clothing them, playing with them, or lifting them both out of the crib they shared when they were babies. I recall quite vividly the occasion, about 12 or 13 years ago, when I heard Daniel squawking during naptime while Luke giggled like a hyena on amphetamines. What’s going on up there? I wondered, and I lumbered up the rickety farm-house stairs to inspect. I opened the door and found Luke, an 18 month old WWF wannabe, leaping repeatedly on Daniel’s stomach, who lay supine, unhappy, and unsure how best to extract himself from his alarming situation. Luke found the activity extremely entertaining and was unmoved by his brother’s expression of distress. In some ways, this was a harbinger of the future.

Back to the present: They are both teenagers now. Like most boys/young men, their physical development has outpaced their emotional development by a considerable margin. On the one hand, they can still be as impulsive and pouty as 5 year olds and as ego-centric as 8 year olds. On the other hand, their bodies have completely transformed in the past year or two. For example, their voices are changing – an evolution I am grateful for, frankly, because I find their burgeoning baritone whining slightly easier to stomach than their former contralto shrieking. In addition, they are both much stronger physically – able (in theory), therefore, to carry heavy trash bags, suitcases, or laundry baskets full of clothing. And – gulp – they now sprout facial hair over their top lip and below their bottom one! Dear reader, can you fathom that? My little baby amigo boys own budding mustaches! My ministrations have moved from dispensing pureed peas and wiping poopy backsides to teaching the Swensen fellas how to shave. Unthinkable.

A few months ago we attended our nephew’s wedding in Kentucky. Luke had a pair of pants and shirt which fit, but Daniel had grown so rapidly that we couldn’t keep up. In our mild desperation to locate an outfit for him that might work in a pinch we discovered he fit into my pants and shirts quite nicely. Not quite 15 at the time, he was already a little taller than I and otherwise the same size in every respect. I was amazed. Flash forward seven months to the present. Luke announced that his dress pants were “kinda tight” and that he really needed a new pair for an upcoming band concert performance.

“Fine,” I replied, “Let’s go to Kohl’s. We can probably find a pair you like on sale. But stop growing, please, and it’d be, like, uber-awesome if you could slow down on the food consumption. Mom and I may both need to find second jobs to pay for our grocery bills if you don’t. Enough is enough.”

“Ha ha. Whatever. Fine.”

So we drove to Richmond and navigated our way through the warren of sweaters, socks, and athletic attire, finally stumbling upon a rack of dark dress pants on sale.

“What size do you think I should try?” Luke asked.

“Geez, Luke, I dunno. That’s actually a tough question. I can’t remember what size your last pair of dress pants were. You typically wear joggers these days, and they come in small, medium, and large, so that’s no help. Lemme take a look at you.”

He rolled his eyes and stared back at the old (and getting older) man, cynicism dripping from his expression. I picked up a pair of pants from the rack and held them up to him.

“These look about right,” I informed him, and then I noticed the waist and inseam numbers: They were my size.

“Okay,” he shrugged, and we walked together to the fitting room area. A few minutes he emerged. “They fit great,” he announced.

“Are you serious?! Luke, do you realize that you, Daniel, and I now wear the same size pants?!” I was dizzy, in near disbelief.

He was unmoved. “Yeah? So? That’s kinda normal, isn’t it? I mean, we’re supposed to get bigger, aren’t we?”

“You know, Luke, this development presents some interesting possibilities.”

“Such as?”

“Well, now we can share clothes! Just like mom and Abby do. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wear your Gorillaz hoodie! Oh, can I??”

Death glare. “Not happening, dad. Not unless you’re gonna let me drive your car. Then I’ll consider it. Maybe not even then, ‘cause I think you might have lice or fleas or something.”

“Oh, alright, Mr. Stingy. But I am TOTALLY wearing your Adidas joggers tomorrow….”

By Tim Swensen

Virtue & Mischief

Timothy Swensen is the author of the column series Virtue and Mischief. He can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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