Of skorts and cavemen (and women)

Back to school to-do lists wear me down.

One zippered pencil pouch. Two pencil sharpeners with containers. Three manila folders. Four reams of copy paper. (I kid you not). Five boxes of 24 crayons. Six plastic folders. Seven wide-ruled spiral bound notebooks. Eight dry erase markers. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Throw in the lunch boxes, backpacks (mesh for the middle schoolers, mind you) and uniforms – and there goes your paycheck.

I figured if I handled the rest of the lengthy supply list, my husband could drop by the store and pick up the last two khaki skorts we needed to get the year off with a bang. After all, I sent our six-year old fashionista daughter with him – with strict instructions to buy skorts exactly like the ones both our daughters wore to school every day last year. They even wore them this summer. They love that specific skort. Either of them would recognize it anywhere. When I look back on my daughters’ school days, those skorts will play prominently in my memory.

There’s a reason I’m going on and on about the skort.

Remember the part about me telling my husband to drop by the uniform store to pick up two more skorts?

I mean, the part about me asking my husband to drop by the uniform store to pick up two more skorts.

I was busy marking other things off the list. Two skorts with our six-year-old whose favorite television show is What Not to Wear seemed do-able.

Until my cell phone rang.

Mind you, my husband is a capable man. He’s creative. Smart. Confident. Wickedly funny. He does the dishes. He likes to shop – more than I do.

However, my husband was on the other end of that cell phone call.

Gone was the confidence.

All sense of humor was washed away.

“You’re going to have to buy the skorts,” he said flabberghastedly. “I went in that store. There were so many sizes, shapes and colors of uniforms. There were all kinds of school uniforms. All colors. I didn’t know where to look. It was crazy. You’re going to have to do that.”

There was something so pitiful about his voice. I didn’t have it in me to speak harshly, but I had to say something.

“It was a khaki skort,” I said. “Piper was with you. She knows what skorts to buy.”

It was no use.

“You’re going to have to go. They’re open tomorrow,” he said with an odd sense of bewilderment.

With that, I dropped it.

I couldn’t help but think of Joe Caveman, a one-man show he and I saw long ago in a city far away. The show was about the differences between men and women. The writer went back to the days of the cavemen (and women) to explain the basic differences between the genders.

The star of the show explained that cavemen went out with a spear every day. They were looking for one thing. And one thing only. The success of their day depended on that one thing.

The cavewomen, on the other hand, made lovely baskets. They walked about scanning the countryside. They looked for colorful berries, useful vines. They figured out which mushrooms they could throw in with the other edible greens they found along the way. They looked for the best kindling and straw to start a fire. They surveyed the land and figured out what they could use. There’s no question. They would have found the skorts.

Who am I to mess with our genetic make-up? Next year, I won’t tempt fate. I’ll do what all people interested in keeping a marriage alive do. I’ll get the skorts myself.

(Jan Risher is a working mother and writer living in Lafayette. Her column appears every Sunday in The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La. E-mail her at jan@janrisher.com.)

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