I Like Your Style, Sir

Sometimes I entertain my kids by taking them to Best Buy. When they’re busy climbing inside refrigerators, I have a few moments to stare blankly at TVs while waving my hand through the blade-less Dyson fan hoping to open a Stargate. I’m there to survive, not to be awesome.

That’s why I was surprised when a 20-something Rihanna-esque employee looked at me coyly and said, “I like your style.” I only managed to squeak out a timid, “Thanks,” before briskly walking away as if the high school quarterback had told me he liked my Hello Kitty lunchbox.

I pay attention to what I wear. My “style” is maybe a little on the young side for my age (40). Was it possible that my American Apparel hoodie covered in cat hair, combined with crisp straight-legged jeans and puma loafers had magically struck the perfect chord of urban hip? At first, I doubted it, but after she smiled and walked away, I thought,  “She totally gets what I’m doing with this outfit,” even though I had no idea what I was “doing with my outfit.” Nonetheless, my posture improved, I got a nice boost of energy, and I even bought Silas a new Wii game.

When I got home and told Lindsay the amazing news she was appropriately incredulous.

“Wait, are you sure she worked there?”

“Well, she was wearing a uniform.”

“And she meant your physical fashion style, not your parenting style?”

“If she meant parenting style, why would she look me up and down?

“Wow, that’s wierd. Cool, but weird.

For the next week, I wore that same hoodie, jeans, and Puma slip-ons; mostly because that’s what I always wear, but now I did so knowing it was a style choice — a hip and relevant style choice.

I went back to Best Buy the following week and after wandering around for five minutes, a young male worker went out of his way to compliment my jeans. “Hey man, I really like your jeans.” To which, I responded, “Oh, hey thanks, bro.”

I called him bro and I can never take that back. I really wanted him to know that I appreciated the compliment and felt that referring to him as “bro” would accomplish that. Someone please help me.

As I continued to browse and make clandestine efforts to check out my jeans in the reflection of every dark computer screen, I started to feel a little funny, like something was off. Why had a nice young man complimented me on my pants? Wasn’t that inappropriate? No employees at Whole Foods, Target, Starbucks, or any other store I go to had made the effort to compliment my style or choice in denim, yet Best Buy had done it twice, with different genders. It was too much of a coincidence.

Clearly, Best Buy is training its employees to compliment men of my age. I must be in their target demographic. Making me feel young and attractive encourages me to spend more. And it works; I hadn’t planned on buying that Wii game. Like an exotic dancer, who pretends to like you, my pride had been leveraged to butter-me-up for money.

I’m not upset about it because I never really took it that seriously anyway (lying). I don’t care what these kids think of me (lying). I’m confident that I look good for my age. My skin might be a little wrinkly around the eyes, but I make up for it in rad footwear (sadly, not lying.)

I hate to think that so many 40 something men are walking around with false confidence after a young hip Best Buy employee says she likes their belt buckle. Next time I’m there, I plan to hang out by the vacuum cleaners, like I work for some Dateline “gotcha” show, and whisper the truth to potential victims. “Psst… you’re not cool. Get out before you buy a 55 inch LED TV.”

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here http://bit.ly/1exfm34. Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

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