I have twin daughters still at home, and one is getting ready for robot camp. She’ll stay for a week, making friends with other weirdos while they parse the depths of C++ programming and make robots beat each other up. What could be more fun for an eighth-grader?

During the school year, it’s all I can do to get her out of pajamas and Converse high-tops. But now, with new friends looming, and because she’s required to make a presentation at the end of this affair, she wants new clothes. Excited about this turn of events, Mom rushed her to the mall, to find what she needs. As the dad, I don’t know exactly what she needed, but it wasn’t there. They tried a few other stores without luck, too. They sat around wpndering, and I had a bright idea.

“Hey,” you guys know that I buy most of my clothes online, from that store in Seattle, right? Check it out. They have a great online store and, well, you know, it’s where all the cool kids shop.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said, like the light bulb went off. “I’ll check it out.” Its her answer to almost every question ever asked.

I cornered her in a couple of days. “Did you check out that store I like? What did you find?”

“I looked at it, but they didn’t really have what I was looking for.”

“How is that possible?” I asked. “I mean, you can buy snowboards there or camp stoves or just about any kind of clothes. Look at these pants,” I said, pointing to my couture. “These beauties were only like eighty bucks.”

“I know,” she said, “they had a lot of stuff, but I just want something…not ugly,” she said.

Dad finally got it. “Ok, lets go to the big mall this weekend out of town. Maybe you can go to Hot Topic and get a couple manga tee shirts or something to go with new pants.”

She lit up for the first time in a week. “Yeah. That sounds great.”

So, that’s it. We’re off to the big mall in the big city looking for not ugly pants and tee shirts. It’s tough to be thirteen.