O Lord, Hubby donned a shirt this morning whose label implied he’d owned it since the early permanent-press era. Laundry instructions: “Tumble dry. Hang on a hanger. No starch.” OMG, that’s a misprint, right? The pictures lie, too, because the shirt can’t be that old!
Contrary to logic, as the weather warms, the plant world
dons more layers. Bushes and shrubs wrap colorful scarves of leaves and
blossoms around their shoulders. Trees drape bare branches with graceful green
mantles. My lawn pads itself with a soft, thick layer of crabgrass.
Young human beings, however, shun this idea. Passing our
town’s grade school one chilly afternoon, I noticed most shivering kids walking
home sported shorts and flip-flops. They looked bluer than Smurfs.
At prom time, young women wearing strapless bodices and
frozen smiles grace the spring landscape. A million goose bumps encase these lovelies
like Bubble Wrap.
If you’re a parent, you do not puzzle over this missing
link between wardrobe and meteorological conditions. Weather has nothing to do
with it. What’s really happening? Kids are exercising independence. We all do
stupid things at that age so we can grow up to never make stupid decisions
Still, as a perfect, mature being, I sympathize. My
classmates and I suffered similar symptoms. We of the Dick-and-Jane generation
wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing shorts and flip-flops to school. Still, our rebellious
frenzy blasted black holes in that era’s proper universe.
We wore sleeveless shirts to class.
Abused classmates still wore sweaters Great-aunt Arlene
gave them for Christmas. Obviously, they hadn’t exerted proper control over
I enjoyed wild, uninhibited freedom — until Mom made me
wear a jacket.
In fact, she and my teacher kept me in a catch-22.
Mom: This class sheet says you must dress for all weather possibilities. Wear your jacket.
Teacher: Your mother sent this jacket with you, so you have to wear it.
Me: Can’t I put off hot flashes for a few decades?
We tortured children discarded outerwear as close to school
dumpsters as we dared. We left jackets hanging in restroom stalls — or tried to
But our sins always found us out. Traitors among us
tattled. No doubt bribed with extra-long turns at the water fountain, these
snitches displayed our jackets and sweaters before the entire class until someone
identified the culprits. Never would have I participated in such betrayal.
But when my children were growing up, I not only
surrendered to the traitors — I joined their ranks.
Sweaters and jackets remain my friends to this day. They conceal
my medical condition known as winter waist, characterized by mysterious
swelling and extreme pain when buttoning last spring’s capris. Even when the
sun shines, I cling to my compassionate buddies.
Someday, the young will realize that, along with moms and
teachers, layers can be their friends.
And trees, who sport new cover-up wardrobes every spring,
aren’t so dumb, after all.
Ordinary: Do you love your layers, too?
We often hear about recycling paper, plastic and metal to preserve our environment. Nowadays, we’re advised to take our conservation efforts up a notch by recycling clothing.
My family has carried on this practice for generations,
never suspecting we were going green. My mother, the youngest of 12 children, lived
with seven — yes, seven — older sisters’ hand-me-downs. If ever a girl
preserved the planet for posterity, Mom did.
She brought this ecological mindset to her five children.
With infallible mother-radar, she hunted my brothers down. Mom threatened them
with death or extra baths to coerce them into trying on last year’s kneeless
pants. She re-patched, rolled up, let down and let out. Mom stressed, guessed
and pressed, shifting jeans from one brother to another.
My sister and I scorned our brothers’ childishness. We
loved trying on clothes! We dug into boxes, throwing skirts, sweaters, and
dresses like confetti, reviving friendships with favorite outfits. Until I discovered
I could no longer button my beautiful ruffled green dress, purchased with last
year’s precious birthday money.
Obviously, my mother had shrunk my dress. Why couldn’t
she do laundry right?
My sister tried it on. Good for a couple more years’ wear,
Mom said — on her. Sigh.
By all rights, I, as the oldest girl, should have enjoyed life without hand-me-downs. Instead, I wore them throughout my childhood. Something was always better than nothing. But the main
reason I didn’t mind: I fell heir to my friend Angela’s glorious castoffs.
A year older than I, Angela never wore hand-me-downs; therefore,
she was rich. Angela lived in the Big Town near the swimming pool, a glamorous
existence I, surrounded by cornfields, could only dream about. She read trendy
teen magazines and knew what clothes were hip. I read Alice in Wonderland and Little
House on the Prairie. When my dad would have kept me dressed like my
favorite characters, Angela helped me live in the 20th century, offering an
annual treasure bag of school clothes.
One fateful year, though, my uncooperative body not only
caved where hers curved, but, after one summer’s growth, I topped her by four
inches. Recycling would have to take a different turn.
No one in our area held garage sales during the ’60s. However,
my mother discovered an odd new business, a consignment shop. Mom bought me a red
corduroy jumper and ruffled blouse to console me for the loss of my fashion
I’m proud to say my family continues the recycling
tradition. My sister and I still trade clothes when we get together. We practice
globally responsible shopping, stimulating the U.S. economy as well. (Are we
patriotic or what?)
Recycling can be a beautiful thing.
Ordinary: Do you “recycle” clothes?