"Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh yeah
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough
You know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love..."
–Robert Palmer, Addicted to Love
Like one of those underwear dreams sometimes people have, I wore only a white t-shirt and boxer shorts, dress socks and nice shoes.
Except this wasn't a dream. It was a promise made months earlier to my wife, who I lovingly call the Mama.
"Wow, you guys actually did it," one of the parents near me commented. "You look great."
"Thank you," I said.
Just a few hours earlier I had asked the Mama if we should reconsider. "No way," she said. "I listened to a podcast recently based on research that girls lose their confidence to be silly, boisterous and bold by age 9, to then stop trying fun and adventurous things. I don't ever want that to happen to me. You know that. Let's keep being different and have fun doing it."
I nodded. "Indeed. That's why I love you, Sweetie."
"It's okay if you don't want to do it, though."
"No, I'm still in. Don't worry."
Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the cute spy action flick with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt from 2005. Not the scenes where they were fancy-dressed folk, though. The scene after their house blows up and they're in their underwear. Early on I tried to get her to consider another scene, even another dress-up option, but to no avail.
The main theme of the auction was always supposed to be a James Bond one, but there were some parents who complained about sexism, misogyny and gun violence, and rightly so, whether many others liked Bond or not. So my idea was to have them offer up a broader mix of spy characters, both men and women, that attendees could dress up as if they wanted to.
And they did. However, as I stood there alone, the Mama running around helping in the early evening of the big event, most of the attendees obviously hadn't wanted to.
The Mama is our PTA president, and her along with the auction chairperson and a myriad of other amazing parent volunteers, they put together quite an elegant affair. It's one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for our school, raising thousands of dollars from us parents bidding on donated products and services, as well as amazing artwork from each classroom. The arts program is a big deal at our school and that one of the many areas the PTA funds. Appropriately, most of the attendees dressed up formal for the night -- women in lovely gowns and pant suits, some vintage 1960's, and the men in suits and ties. It's a great night for all the mommies and daddies to raise a little money and a little hell -- all for the kids.
I help out with school activities when I can and when I'm not traveling, and for this particular auction gala, I help put together a video of the kids' class "thank you" pictures and the slide shows. So, for this event, I was the AV (audio-visual) guy, and happy to do it.
There I was, standing in my underwear, with a name-tag on my t-shirt that said "Mr. Smith" (I made the Mama put "Mrs. Smith" on), just to ensure people would know who my character was, even if they were familiar with the movie, which thankfully many were. Thumb ups. Compliments. Snickers. Pointing. The gamut, but mostly positive and fun comments, complimenting our creativity and the Mama's PTA leadership.
I was stressed, though. Not because of how I had dressed; I had already acquiesced to that compromise. No, the reality was I wasn't feeling well, still suffering from residual health issues from last year's scare. I didn't say anything to the Mama until late that night after we got home, not wanting to stress her any more than she already was.
The good news is that we both persevered and helped raise a lot of money for our school. As I watched the Mama thank all the parents in the room for their generosity, I fell in love with her all over again, her boldness such an inspirational boon to our relationship and to the lives of our girls.
And although Brad Pitt I am most certainly not, damn those super hot red rain boots. Mercy me, Mama. Mercy me.