I scowled at him from around the door of my walk-in closet. "I need a male perspective, and the last time I checked, you fall into that category."
Brandon huffed out a breath of irritation and flopped back on my bed. "Why don't you ask Curtis? He's gay. Gay men live for this shit."
"Curtis can tell me what looks fashionable," I agreed pulling dresses from their hangers and tossing them onto the bed. "I need you to tell me what looks hot."
"Like, how hot are you going for here?" Brandon asked, sitting up and glancing at the stack of dresses next to him.
I pondered for a moment. "Sexy. . .but not slutty. Basically, if I look like someone you'd hit on, I know I've gone to far."
Flipping me the bird, Brandon picked up a red dress and scrutinized the hemline. "This doesn't seem weird to you?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" I replied, wriggling into a sequined skirt.
"I mean," he smirked, "that I'm helping you pick out clothes for a date when we used to go out?"
I snorted with laughter. "Go OUT? Is that what that was? I don't seem to recall a lot of going out, just an inordinate amount of staying in."
"Yeah, well. . .still." Brandon seemed dubious.
"Look," I said, facing him with my hands on my hips. "A: There's no weirdness on my end, B: I know you'll give me an honest opinion and not blow smoke up my ass because you're trying to get me in bed, and C: I can change clothes in front of you because you've already seen me naked. So, we're cool?"
Brandon grinned. "We're cool." He handed me the red dress. "Try this one on, that skirt makes your ass look the back of an Escalade."*
*Perhaps a scootch more honesty than I was looking for.
As I was attempting to wedge my Forever 43 ass into a Forever 21 dress, my son J. strolled through with a book under his arm and a box of Wheat Thins in his hands. "What up, B-Money?" he greeted Brandon, scowling when he snaked a handful of his crackers. "Mommy, where are my glasses?"
"Wherever you left them," I called from the closet. "I am not the keeper of all things optical."
"Fine." J. dramatically sighed. "I'll just go blind if that'll make you happy."
"Nothing could possibly bring me greater joy." I drawled, emerging in the red dress.*
*Which would totally work for dinner. As long as I don't eat anything. Or drink anything. Or, sit down. Or. . .breathe.
It was then that I noticed the book wedged under my 11-year-old son's arm. "Dude, what are you reading?"
He pulled it out and glanced at it with a shrug. "Silence of the Lambs." he replied passively.
"I. . .wait. . .what?" I sputtered. "No. So much no. Giant CostCo-sized box of NO. Give me the book, Homeslice." J. pulled away when I reached for the battered paperback.
"No." he protested. "It's about F.B.I. agents and stuff. It's cool."
Brandon peered at the book. "What chapter are you on?"
"Chapter two." J. grinned.
"Yeah," Brandon said with a shake of his head, "your mom's right. Give her the book, man. Trust me, by chapter four, shit gets real."
J. furrowed his brow and steeled his grip on the book. "No, I want to read it."
I put my hand out before my son's stubborn face. "Give me the book, J. Trust me, I read this when I was thirty and it fu. . ., umm, messed me up. You're already facing an indeterminate amount of therapy simply from being raised by me, let's not exacerbate the situation."
"It's not fair." my usually docile child argued.
"Give me the book."
"Seriously, Dude. Make with the book."
"I don't want to."
"IT PUTS THE BOOK IN THE MOMMY'S HAND OR IT GETS THE HOSE AGAIN!" I cried. Eying me with a mixture of bewilderment and frustration, J. finally ponied up the book and slunk from the room as Brandon laughed.
"That? Was awesome." he concluded, high-fiving me. "Although, maybe you should have let him read it. It could give him some tips on how to pick up chicks with lotion and a basket. Bitches love lotion."
"Bite me, Martinez." I called over my shoulder as I returned to the closet.
"Yeah, we tried that once," he retorted. "You didn't like it."
Poking my head out with a withering glare I gestured toward the dresses on the bed. "Just make yourself useful and choose something. I've been in and out of the closet more times than Anne Heche."
"Roger that." he answered, fishing two black dresses from the heap. "Here, try these."
Accepting them from him warily, I began to extricate myself from the red menace dress. "So, did I see you actually having a CONVERSATION with my neighbor earlier?" I asked.
"Yeah," Brandon said, pulling off his cap and mussing his thick, black hair. "Guess he's stopped going all Neighborhood Watch now that he's seen me here enough times. Either that or it makes him feel mighty white to be chatting with a wetback."
I tilted my head in confusion. "I thought your family came over from Nogales?"
"Yeah. . .so?" Brandon replied
"So, there's no river there." I mused, pulling the dress (and a layer of skin) from my body. "So you technically aren't a wetback."
"Huh." he pondered, leaning back on the pillows. "Well, what do you call the Mexicans that crawl under the fences?"
I thought for a moment. "I don't know. . .a scratchback?"
Brandon chuckled as I emerged in one of the black cocktail dresses he'd chosen. "Not bad," he affirmed, "but what about shoes? You need just the right shoes."
"Damn! Check you out, Clinton Kelly!" I hooted. "Five minutes of playing fashion police and you go all Queer Eye For the Straight Guy on me."
"Hey!" he yelled, throwing a pillow at my head like Nolan Ryan on crystal meth. "I'm just saying that wearing those dresses with ugly shoes are going to harsh your vibe. Besides, guys like sweet kicks."
"Which is good!" I cried, throwing the door of my closet wide open. "Because I have more kicks than a Rockette with Parkinson's."
Perusing my impressive collection of stilettos and platforms, Brandon held up one particularly lethal pair. "Just curious," he queried. "do you have any shoes that don't look like you stole them off of a Vietnamese prostitute?"
Glowering, I snatched the glittering heels from his hands. "These happen to be from the Jessica Simpson collection." I replied haughtily. "Girl might be dumber than a bag of hair, but she makes a hot shoe." Making 'shoo-be-gone' gestures, I sent Brandon back into the bedroom and began donning the final dress.
"So, who is this dude you're going out with?" Brandon called out, flipping through my CD's with unbridled disgust.*
*My shitty taste in music is the stuff of legend.
"Friend of a friend." I answered vaguely. "First date, so, we'll see."
Brandon flopped stomach down on the bed. "What happened to that dude from work?"
I poked my head out of the closet, my brow furrowed. "Who? Oh! You mean Grant?"
"I guess." Brandon shrugged.
"Yeah," I pulled the dress over my head and smoothed the fabric over my hips. "he was really nice. Cute too."
"So why aren't you still going out with him?" Brandon queried.
I sighed deeply. "Dude, he's 33."
"So, eventually I'm going to use the phrase 'dial-up modem' or 'MTV veejay' and his eyes are going to glaze over in confusion." I smirked. "I prefer to date people who weren't in utero when the Challenger exploded. I'm just not that in touch with my inner Mary Kay LaTourneau."
Brandon tilted his head in confusion. "Who?"
"My point exactly." I sighed.*
*Brandon is 28. And clueless. But pretty. So, so pretty.
"OK." I stated with finality, emerging from the closet. "Whadda ya think?"
Brandon looked up from the CD liner notes he was reading and gave a long, slow whistle. "That's it. Damn, Jen."
I tilted my head, trying to view the back of the dress in my bathroom mirror. "Not too much?" I worried aloud.
"Totally not." Brandon shook his head emphatically. "It's just the right balance. Like, I want to bang you, but you look so classy I'd be scared to try."
Laughing, I reached over and gave Brandon a bear hug. "From you, B., that's a hell of a compliment. I'm happy to know I can still elicit the occasional Stifler's Mom fantasy."
"Always." he laughed, hugging me back. "Just make sure this guy is a gentleman or I'll come over there and drive my foot so far up his ass that he'll be coughing up shoe polish for a week."
And this? Right here? Is why my male friends are invaluable.
Even if they do eat all my Wheat Thins. . .
and teach my short people Eminem lyrics. . .
and fart on my bedspread. . .
and make me wonder ever day how I ever got through life without them.
PS: This was what Brandon and I came up with. The shoes are even more whore-tastic in reality.