“You’re going for man-training lessons,” I told LL. “It’s like a bar mitzvah, only without the Jewish stuff.”
I chose my words carefully. I didn’t say etiquette class. I didn’t say ballroom dancing lessons. I didn’t say It’s this lovely WASPy institution or reform school. I thought there was no way the lately-defiant eight year old would go if I gave him a single detail about the program I had signed him up for. It was enough that he knew it was neither hockey nor soccer.
And just as I was mum on the name and the activities of the course (How to Make Small Talk, How to Answer the Phone, How to Use Your Silverware . . .), I kept quiet about the dress requirements:
Blazer or suit
Dress trousers (gray flannel or pressed khaki) — please, no cargo or casual pants
Properly buttoned dress shirt
(On the lady-training side of things, parents were buying dresses, patent-leather Mary Janes, and the sartorial star: white gloves.). I just said, “Oh, can you try these on? I want to see if they fit. How about this shirt? Hey, I want to learn how to put on a tie. Can you come here for a second?”
“He’ll hate it,” said my husband.
“He’ll hate you,” said my neighbor.
“He’ll never go,” said my friend.
But you know what I say to the naysayers? Suck it!
And then he came out to report to his brothers that it was . . .
Admittedly, the geniuses at the program end the class by having the boys give the girls candy, and vice versa.
Poor Cool J. “It’s no fair!” he declared jealously. “I want some–. I mean, I want to learn ballroom dancing and wear a tie!!!”
All in good time, my little one. All in good time!