Hmmmm... what exactly is badly dressed? The Husband's quiet simmering anger was vivid "There is a difference between looking like a slob and looking like a beggar. You look like a beggar!"
When I stepped back and looked at my son. I saw for the first time a sight that only a Mother can love. There was an unmistakeable hole near the neckline of his t-shirt plus a few more smaller ones on the chest. There was a brownish stain near the left shoulder. The hem of his t-shirt looked tattered. And when I looked down at his pants, I recognised something that Little Boy has been wearing since 5 years old... the thing (as one can best call it that) had stretched as Little Boy grew and now looked threadbare and faded. Little Boy was wearing stuff that I would be ashamed to donate to charity.
Then The Husband said in his quiet fury that was really scary because so quiet... "If you grow up and dress like this, you will NEVER get anywhere. No one will take you seriously." One part of me wanted to say "If you have substance, you don't need form" but I knew it wasn't true because a neat and respectable appearance communicates seriousness and integrity (goodness knows why) - unless, of course, you are Steve Jobs, who can don't bathe and not shave but still be King of the World for a while. After all, I don't think I would allow The Daughter to date The Boyfriend if The Boyfriend dressed like my Little Boy.
The Husband was angry enough that Little Boy was suitably chastised. I explained to Little Boy that his father has few demands of him. Hence, the least Little Boy could do is to do what his father wanted just once. Indeed, dressing neatly is the only demand that I have ever heard The Husband require of his son... but since Petunia has never really made it a point to back The Husband up in this, Little Boy conveniently decided to engage in civil disobedience. I feel a bit bad because I sometimes don't look very respectable myself. Of course, if I try to, I can manage to look quite good. But when I am distracted by other interesting things, the last thing I notice is what exactly I look like. So, it's hard for me to require that Little Boy dress better.
I advised Little Boy to pacify the paternal passion by gathering all his rags in a bag to show The Husband that these would be disposed of. Poor Little Boy looked like we had asked him to cut off a pound of flesh. He patted his clothes and stroked them. He sniffed at them and rubbed them against his face. Then he inexplicably took a pile of brand new t-shirts from his wardrobe and wet them... and then he poured all manner of cleaning agents on them. Then he declared, "I am experimenting with the chemicals that can best soften new clothes so that I can wear them comfortably. Otherwise, I have no clothes to wear."