After a long, gruelling day at work and a monotonous commute home, all I want to do is eat supper and relax. With the car parked in our driveway, I grab everything I must drag into the house—30-pound pocketbook, unruly umbrella with stretcher poking through the canopy, empty fast food container left behind by the last child to borrow the car and more.
With both arms full, I use my elbow to lock the car and my left hip to close the door. When the door doesn’t close all the way, I use my bottom to push it into place. That’s when my pocketbook straps fall off my shoulder onto my forearm, causing me to drop the jacket I didn’t need to wear on the way home as well as my keys.
Eventually, I’m able to stagger to the door, where the keys drop once more for good measure. Hubby usually finds me at this point, holding the door and grabbing my reusable lunch bag and drippy travel mug.
Within thirty minutes of my arrival, I am settled comfortably with a plate of food. My eyes begin to get droopy. That was my state of existence a few evenings ago, when my son asked me about my day. The second I wrapped up my story, he asked if I was enjoying my supper. My eyebrows shot up and my muscles became tense. He is the youngest of three. I knew what was coming next.
As predicted, my child sweetly mentioned the breast cancer awareness activities that were planned for the very next day. Then he noted how great it would be if he had a pink shirt to wear in support of the activities. My eyes involuntarily rolled. I put my plate in the dishwasher and grabbed my pocketbook and keys.
As we wandered through the nearly empty mall looking for pink in the men’s departments, I began to notice a trend. All the pink items, as scarce as they were, seemed picked through. They were partially folded in messy piles or dangling crookedly on hangers.
After sifting through limited options in several stores, it seemed the only other people in the mall were mothers and sons. More specifically, weary, droopy-eyed moms with overly polite, high school-age boys.
Most of what we found was much too large for my tall, slender son. He graciously suggested we purchase the one shirt we found that, while a size too big, might work if washed and dried on the hot setting, as a last resort. It sounded like a good plan.
Shortly thereafter, we happened upon a stack of small pink golf shirts. It was an oasis in a desert of non-pastel clothing. It was too good to be true. Literally. My son prudently pointed out the reason the one plentiful stack of pink men’s shirts was still intact.
The pink golf shirts were clearly out of the price range of parents raising teenagers. Had a local country club planned breast cancer awareness activities, the pink golf shirts would have sold out. But the activities were planned for the high school.
We realized at that moment we needed to make our way back to the medium-sized shirt. The adrenaline began surging as we rushed to beat any other mother-son teams who might still be searching for reasonably priced pink attire.
My heart was pumping fast as I pushed aside shirts in search of our backup. As the hangers swayed this way and that, the shirt we needed swung into view. I grabbed it and headed toward the cashier.
As my son and I approached with the pink shirt, the cashier looked at us quizzically. “Does every teenage boy in the county need a pink shirt?” she asked. “I’ve sold three in the last twenty minutes.”
“We have breast cancer awareness activities planned at school tomorrow,” my son proudly explained to her before I had a chance to respond.
The quizzical look melted into one of gratitude and comfort. “That’s wonderful,” she responded. Then she dug out a coupon and gave us an extra discount on the already marked down shirt.
The cashier took my payment and handed the bag to my son. Then she noted, “I’ve always thought young men looked handsome in pink.”
Watching the exchange, pride welled up in my heart. I was proud of my son for wanting to participate. I was even more proud of his enthusiasm for sharing with a stranger the reason he and his classmates were adding pink to their wardrobes. I couldn’t add my two-cents if I tried—not through the lump in my throat.
My pride gushed beyond my son to all the students in his school who took time out this week to raise awareness about breast cancer. To all the boys who donned the pink for a great cause, I must reiterate the sentiments of the department store cashier. Young men look amazing in pink.
Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of “Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville.” She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org