Friday, April 12, 2013

Car Conversation Number 4,321,896

I know if you're a parent you've discovered that the car is probably the best place to have a conversation with your children. Sometimes it's the only place to have a conversation with your children, particularly when you drive around all day, seemingly willy-nilly but actually as part of a carefully orchestrated feat of organizational genius.


This morning, I threw on a sweater over my pajama pants, transferred my coffee from "my cup" into the travel cup and shepherded the three boys (one of whom is not mine) out the door and into the car. I noticed, as he walked ahead of me, that Henry's pants were hanging slightly too low and that the top of his boxers were showing. Henry, pull up your pants, I said, I can see your underwear. He pulled them down, exposing the entire expanse of his underwear and shuffled to the car while the other two boys laughed hysterically. When we were all settled into our car, I had the genius idea to tell them what might be urban myth but what I understood to be the origin of the unfortunate fashion of pants hanging below one's waist. That perhaps urban myth states that people in jail, hungry for contact, would signal their willingness for sexual assignations by pulling their pants down below their underwear.

Isn't that a lovely fashion trend to emulate? I asked smugly as I sipped my coffee and took a sharp right turn. I glanced into the rearview mirror as one does during car conversations and raised my eyebrows. Oliver was sitting beside me and just stared, confused. Henry said, I don't think that's appropriate, Mom. 

Reader, if there were a grave in the car, I would have kept digging. I told him that sometimes, men in prison got lonely in prison and wanted to have sex. Oliver was silent, his amazing brain apparently struck still.

What do you mean, Mom? Oliver asked, horrified. The third boy said, drolly, When you're in the shower, don't drop the soap! and he and Henry laughed out loud.

Oh, Lord. I won't go into it here, but I managed to climb somewhat out of the grave that I'd dug for myself and divert the conversation to other issues surrounding prison -- the food, the close quarters, the boredom -- but not before I might have irrevocably damaged my eleven year old.

The bottom line, though, is that I don't think anyone who comes with me on car trips will be wearing their pants too low from here on out.


  1. Our car, like yours and Phil's from Modern Family is the Cone of Trust. We have the best conversations in the car. The other day I was so tired but my kids had me howling with laughter and cheered me up.

  2. Probably inappropriate, but I'm laughing hysterically right now.

  3. scare the lil' sucker straight!

    I used to love to listen to my daughters and their friends in the car...I kept my mouth shut and just listened. Oh, the info I gleaned!

  4. Good GOD this is funny!

    I miss my younger-sons.

  5. i'd happily hand you a couple of teen boys i know, for a "car conversation" with you. :)

  6. LOL! Poor Oliver!

    I've heard that saggy pants became fashionable because wardens confiscate belts when prisoners are taken to jail -- to prevent them from hanging themselves in their cells. Probably also not the best topic of car conversation.

  7. the myth is just that. a myth:

  8. What Steve said is what I also heard. I used to ask my son why he wanted to emulate jail fashion. He just shrugged. It was one of the battles I decided not to pick. I was just thankful he evolved through the oversized clothes stage quickly. Oliver's going to be working out that car conversation for a while!

  9. This is the best laugh I've had all week...

  10. I was away from the internet for a few days and returning to your blog has run me through the entire gamut of human emotion in the space of a few minutes. I swear to god, Elizabeth. First I encountered divine grace and holy mysteries, then awe and love for the human spirit, and now I am belly laughing and wiping away tears. Thank you for your blog and sharing these stories. Your wicked and edging on inappropriate humor with your kids reminds me of the way I talk to my own.

  11. Could not love this post more. Go Mom!!



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