We drove to one of those places I normally avoid like the plague. The place where most people flock to on the weekends. Where you’re constantly dodging and darting, to avoid getting flattened by crazy women pushing strollers, and herds of annoying teenage girls. He took me to the bleeping mall!
In the best of situations, I don’t like the mall. Add to it my wardrobe, and you can grasp the level of anxiety I felt at that moment. I quickly steered us to one of the large department stores near the entrance we came through. I went right to the “boys” department and found the jeans section. I started to look at the cheaper ones they had to offer, and my uncle, as if disgusted by my actions, pulled me over to the Levi’s.
“This is where you will find some decent jeans. Not that other cheap crap.”
“But they’re way more expensive.”
“Yeah. So. I’m not getting you some crappy jeans that look like junk. I make way more money than I know how to spend. Go nuts!”
I grabbed a few pairs of Levi’s 511’s and headed for the changing rooms. Luckily, my uncle stayed back. This was totally guy shopping. If my mom was with me, it’d be an embarrassment fest. She’d make me come out ‘to model’ and say things like ‘how’s your butt look’ or ‘do you have enough room in the crotch?’ She’d pull on the waist. Spin me around. Make a great spectacle out of something so simple.
While I was trying to pull the jeans up, the opening at the ankle couldn’t get over my cast. Damn! These are awesome too. I started to walk back to the jeans department, disappointed that the ones I liked best wouldn’t work, when my uncle spotted me.
“They won’t fit over my cast.”
“Oh…here. Try these.”
“Boot cut?” I said, uncertainly. “Aren’t they for like, cowboys?”
“Shit no! That’s Wranglers. These are stylish as hell. I got some boot cuts. Try em’ on. You’ll see.”
Still not convinced, I reluctantly agreed as he handed me two pairs of Levi’s slim 527’s. I returned to the dressing room and pulled them on with no problem. I zipped them up and had to admit they felt awesome. They were snug, but not tight. They had a low waist. They were soft. And they had a slight flare at the bottom of the pant legs. In reality, they were the best fitting, best feeling pair of jeans I’ve ever worn.
I came out beaming.
“Hell yes I like. Which color do you think?” I asked. One pair was a darker blue, the other pair looked like they got run over by a truck.
“Why not both? Actually, why not all four, for when you get that cast off?”
“That’s too much.”
“Forget it. Here. I grabbed some socks, undies, and v-neck tee’s too. Do these look right?”
“Ughh. What are you doing?”
“Well. I thought you should have some clothes at my place, so your not stuck in my stuff when you come over. Of course, some of it you should bring home too.”
“Wow. You’re way too nice to me.”
“Nonsense. Let’s ring you up, then you can slip on a pair of Levi’s. Then we can run to Zoomie’s and pick out a hoodie.”
I gave up arguing at this point, so I nodded in agreement.
At Zoomie’s, I settled on a ridiculously cool Element pullover. Brown with some skull and fire stitch work. It was pretty bad-ass.
My punishment for his generosity, was to sit in the food court, the hub of activity, so he could enjoy an overpriced coffee.
“Looks like you’ve picked up a fan club little man.”
“Don’t look now, but there is a table full of girls over your left shoulder, that have had their eyes glued to you since we walked up. They are swooning over you. Tongues hanging out and everything.”
“Whatever nothing. Tell you what. Get me a refill and casually glance over to their table. You’ll see what I mean.”
I did what he said, and sure as shit, when I glanced at them, I saw five sets of eyes looking right at me. They made a way to obvious attempt to avert their eyes, giggling and blushing. I felt a redness take over my cheeks as well.
I walked back to sit with my uncle, still glowing red.
“What did I tell you? You’ve got to trust me kiddo. I think it’s your sweet little ass in them jeans. They can’t get enough of it.”
“God! Stop already.”
“Oh. What’s this? It looks like your fan club is leaving. Probably going somewhere to cool off.”
Just as I was starting to laugh, my uncle said “hold on. Be cool. Be cool.”
Before I was able to ask him about what he was saying, a folded piece of paper landed on the table, right in front of my hands. Then a girl strode past, kind of quickly.
“Oh. What’s it say? Come on…read it.”
I grabbed the paper and unfolded it. It read “you’re hot!” (612) 555-**** Jackie.”
I smiled nervously, and slid the paper across the table, to my anxious uncle.
“Oh damn! See what happens when I take you shopping? If we spent all day here, I could get you a date for every night of the week.”
“Shit…whatever. Are you done soon? Can we get out if here? I’m like itching.”
We got back to his car, and headed back toward Uptown.
“Aaron. Do you think I could maybe stay again tonight…and umm…get a ride to school tomorrow? I just don’t want to see my dad again, like this weekend.”
“I don’t have a problem with it, but let me call your mother.”
He dug out his phone and dialed my mom.
“My beloved storestøster.”
“Yes. Yes. Mom says hi. He is actually the reason I called. It seems Doober has had so much fun with his favorite uncle, that he wishes to stay again tonight.”
“I certainly have no problem with it. Yes, I would get him to school.”
“Now? Oh, I have him chained in the basement. I’ve been throwing him raw meat, so he hasn’t complained too much.”
“I know. I’ve always been the funny one.”
“Love you too…ha det.”
My uncle looked at me and smiled. I simply rolled my eyes, and called him a goofball.
“What? I got you what you wanted, right? So…are you going to invite Jackie over tonight?”
I reached over and punched him on the shoulder. “Stop already!”
“Hey hey! I’m driving here.”
“There’s one more thing…if I could…”
“Anything. What is it Doober-Walkie?”
“Well…you’ve done so much for me already this weekend. I was wondering if we could stop by the grocery store. I’d really like to make you and Avery dinner.”
“Hell yes we can! What do you got in mind? I know whatever you make will pretty much rule.”
“Umm…it’s a surprise, but I think you’ll both like it.”
“I’m sure we will.”
He handed me $20.00 and dropped me at the door. Five minutes later I was back in the car with everything I needed.
“One more stop, then we’ll go home.”
He pulled in front of a used book store and it was my turn to wait in the car for a few minutes. He threw a bag in the backseat, and we returned to his apartment.
“Avery won’t be back for another hour or so, so I wanted to talk to you about a few things, ok?”
“It’s nothing bad. Just, I’ve been thinking about the other night, and some of what you told me. I care about you a lot, you know. I love you like my own, and I think might have some ideas. Some things that could maybe help you.”
“Alright. From what I can see, your triangle is all out of wack.”
“Triangle. Your mind, body, and soul. Hear me out. Physically, you appear healthy, but I know kids your age can pretty much eat anything, and burn it off with your metabolism alone. I want you to be conscious of what you choose to eat. Less pop, more water. Fresh fruits and vegetables. You can still have your ice cream and Doritos, but make sure to eat what’s good for you as well. Eat three meals. Breakfast is most important. Drink orange juice and have oatmeal, or whole wheat toast.”
“I usually skip breakfast.”
“Try to change that. Please. It’ll make a difference in how your day goes. Do you ever get sleepy in school? Like you didn’t get enough sleep?”
“See. A good breakfast will help with that. Ok. Exercise. I think you’re pretty good there with hockey. But how about summer? Do you do much in the summer?”
“Not really I guess.”
“I know you mill around them woods a lot, but take bike rides or go rollerblading. Get that heart rate up. Feed your brain fresh oxygen.”
Then he reached for the bag from the bookstore. “I got a few things for you here.”
First, he handed me a small, black hardcover book, with blank pages. “This is a journal. I want you to write something in it every day. It doesn’t matter what. You can treat it like a diary, or recipes for all I care. Draw pictures. Whatever comes to mind. It’s for your eyes only. I’ve been doing this since I was your age. I keep all of them. I have about 15 of then now. I keep it with me most of the time. I keep it near me when I go to bed. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and write in there about a dream I was having, or lyric ideas. Have fun with it. It can be very rewarding.”
He handed me another book from the bag. I read the tittle out loud ‘Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming’. What is this?
“It’s a book I’d like you to read. I’d also like you to train with me. I want you to learn about the options and benefits available during your sleep time. This isn’t the kind of book you want to race through. It’s a guide. I’ve read it many times. It’s helped me a lot. With your permission, I’d like to join you when you go to bed tonight, and show you the benefit of sleeping exercise. This requires baby steps. I’d like to show you step one tonight. Is that something you’d be interested in?”
“I guess I don’t know what you mean.”
“It’s kind of like a meditation, or a trance. The point is, it’ll give you a very restive night of sleep. Another important component to your triangle.”
“Yeah. Sure. Sounds cool.”
“Ok buddy. I think that’s enough for today. Work on some of the things I mentioned, and you will become a more healthy, centered person. You’ll be less likely to punish yourself when things go a little haywire in your head.”
“Oh. One more thing. Come here. Hugs. Never pass up a chance at a good hug.”
With that, I felt myself melt into the warm embrace of my totally, kick-ass, amazing uncle Aaron.