It is time for our youth to go back to school. The parents' role is to buy children clothes. It's tougher than you think.

Bloudin asked me to join him on this journey. His wife got mad at him when he criticized her for discussing shopping for clothes, so she said, "All right. Then you take him."

I was chosen to go along for support.

Teenagers have definite taste when it comes to their clothes. Tim, Bloudin's son, led us into a store that had a wrecked Maserati in the window. The salesman offered to show Tim some pants.

Tim tried on a pair, came out of the dressing room and said, "They're not baggy enough. My pants have to look as though they're falling down."

I told Bloudin, "I didn't know baggy pants were in."

Tim said, "They're in if the cuffs fall over my shoes. The pants hide the shoes."

Tim came back wearing another pair of pants.

Bloudin, who was getting itchy, said, "They look all right to me."

Tim shook his head and said, "You can't see the top of my underwear."

"Why do you want to do that?" I asked.

"Because girls are curious as to what kind of underwear someone is wearing. The waist is supposed to drop so the name on your briefs sticks out."

Bloudin said, "It sounds sick to me."

I said, "At least kids know what they want."

Tim finally found a pair of stone-washed pants that were baggy in front, revealing the name of his underwear in the back, and could be worn at all times with his shirttail hanging out.

It was an extra $100 for a new pair of sneakers. Tim said the $85 shoes were tacky and weren't worth trying on.

When we got home Mrs. Bloudin said, "What did you buy?"

Bloudin proudly held up the pants.

"Oh dear," she said. "He has a pair exactly like that in the closet."

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate