“Hopefully I’ll have that again someday.” my son Evan said wistfully over the phone.
“You will!” I encouraged him. “Just give it a while.”
“Best that it’s over but there were still some fun times.” he went on.
“You’ll have that with someone new.” I said. “You’re only nineteen. Plenty of time.”
“Yeah.” he said solemnly. “Just not sure it will happen again or be as good.”
“It will only be better!” I said confidently.
“But how do you know it will be better?” he asked.
Oh no. He wanted an answer.
I’m absolutely no relationship expert. I’ve been in several and calculate I’d have done things differently in every case. I’m just no fountain of good advice. Still, my son’s lamenting after his unpleasant breakup triggered memories and I searched for words of wisdom to help him through this momentary setback.
That strong parental desire to offer profound guidance washed over me. I prepared to launch into weighty philosophical input that would surely embolden him to dismiss his temporary breakup regrets. I took a deep breath and began my lofty speech.
“Well, it’s like this…” I began.
With the spotlight squarely on me and my son listening intently, paying more attention to a parent than any nineteen year old ever has, I went into a panic. Ideas had flashed before me while Evan spoke. Where had they gone? What had I intended to say? What was that clever tidbit again? Gone. All gone. But Evan waited eagerly.
“Well, it’s like this…” I began again. “Relationships are like underwear.”
I had no clue where that came from even as I heard myself say it.
“Ok…?” Evan chuckled in anticipation.
That wasn’t enough? I had to say more?
“You put on a new pair of underwear and it’s great. Feels good, nice change, you like them, and soon find you prefer them over all others. How wonderful life is with this new pair of underwear.”
“Ok…?” Evan chuckled again.
He expected even more? He’s a nineteen year old boy. Time to break it down.
“Well, then one day you realize the new underwear is up your ass.”
Evan chuckled loudly this time. “Ok…?”
“So you say wow, didn’t expect that. You make a few adjustments and you try to move on. It happens again. A few more tries to make things right but it’s just not working. No matter how much you’d loved the new underwear and no matter how many adjustments were made there has now come the point when you realize you need to take them off for good.”
“So, unfortunately you say goodbye to that pair but at some point you come across another new pair. You put them on and maybe something about them reminds you too much of the pair that hadn’t worked out so well in the past. You pretty quickly take this pair off having learned from the last just what works for you about underwear and what doesn’t.”
“None of us know when or where we might ultimately find underwear with the right fit, but we keep trying with yet another new pair if an old pair fails. So, I know your next pair of underwear will be better than the last because you learn something each time you try one on. Never settle for the wrong fit. Remember, none of this means that you or any of the pairs of underwear were necessarily bad. It simply means the fit wasn’t right.
“One day you’ll put on that next new pair of underwear and they’ll feel pretty nice but you may hesitate. Ignore the fact that any one pair of underwear, or maybe all underwear, has disappointed you in the past. If this newest pair feels good then enjoy it and see what happens. One day you’ll put on a new pair and the fit will be so nice, so perfect, that you’ll skip along every day for the rest of your life not even realizing you have on underwear at all.”
There, that was all I had. I knew I’d fallen short but I’m just not good with relationship advice. I waited for the dial tone I knew was coming…
“That” Evan said through a hearty laugh, “was the dumbest, grossest, and best thing I’ve ever heard! That was awesome.”
Phew! I wiped the sweat from my upper lip.
Evan hadn’t necessarily asked for relationship advice nor had I been eager to give any. What do I know? His angst was serious and my response may not have been, but I recognized his feelings and let him know in the wacky way he probably expected of me that I understood.
Keep trying. The perfect fit is out there.
Stuart M. Perkins