Glory Days

Posted: June 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: City Livin', Discoveries, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Little Rhody, Miss Kate, Music, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | 4 Comments »

The older I get, the younger I dress.

I came to this disturbing realization on Friday, while digging through my wardrobe. I unearthed tweed blazers, thin brown belts with gold-tone buckles, and high-necked woolen herringbone dresses.

This clothing phase was like some sedimentary layer of my life I’d dug down deep enough to hit. Geologists would likely call it The Neutral Tones All-Wool Un-Sexy Professional Era.

It’s no wonder I married so late in life, dressed as I was.

The thing is, there was a time in my younger days when I dressed even older. From age 9 to 14 or so I was painfully, excessively preppy. I worked damn hard at it too. I layered shirts will devout precision, sometimes wearing two turtlenecks (in the dead of summer) just to reveal the slim perimeter of an extra pastel color at my chin-line.

I wore Bermuda shorts with ribbon belts, Lilly Pulitzer golf skirts, or any bright seashell-patterned jack-ass pants I could convince my mother to buy. I draped fair isle sweaters over my shoulders with surgical precision, and accessorized with a nautical rope bracelet and a gold signet ring with the monogram KEB. (Like everything else I wore, the initial ‘E’ was just for show. I don’t have a middle name, but I couldn’t bear the shame of a two-letter monogram.)

Yes, in my early teens, tragically, Talbots was my punk rock. I looked like a 75-year-old woman who got lost en route to Garden Club and mistakenly wandered into a middle school.

And the sad truth is that the look I was going for was utterly un-ironic. I even embraced the short-lived nickname Kiki that was bestowed upon me after The Preppy Handbook came out.

Ah, youth.

Anyway, on Friday I was getting ready to go to a clothing swap. A fabulous friend I rarely see had invited me. And although I assumed I’d know only one or two gals aside from the hostess, I had a hunch it’d be an interesting crowd.

But I was un-prepared. That working-mother frantic “oh-shit-I’m-supposed-to-bring-something-to-this-thing-that-starts-in-20-minutes” kinda unprepared. And so I dove into an armoir in the basement to dredge up some clothing to contribute. I was hoping to find something chic that just didn’t fit any more.

Instead I came up with tweed.

If I had any hope of hitting it off with these San Fran sisters, I’d have to swiftly dump my Nancy Reagan-esque clothing cast-offs into the mass of “clean, gently-used garments,” and slip away before the dowdy duds were linked to me.

Turns out I’d been right about the evening being fun and fabulous. I had reason on many occasions to laugh wine out my nose. (And thankfully the good sense not to.) I ate a tremendously delicious slab of lasagna, met some hilarious gals, and made off with a stunning new skirt and a great little black dress.

I even broke my own No Used Shoes Rule thanks to some other Size 8 whose adorable, unstinky, next-to-new heels were too cute to resist—especially when surrounded by a sea of gals who were ooh-ing and intoning in serious voices, “Those look SO GOOD ON YOU.”

It was like being in a dressing room with 30 other girlfriends who you just met. Who were a little drunk.

But the other half of my fun didn’t even happen at the party. It was getting there. My exceptional spouse was tending to our small humans, allowing me the unbridled freedom of slipping out into the evening in our non-kid-transporting vehicle, cutely clad, radio blasting. I had a bottle of wine in my purse, and not a single wipe or diaper on me.

The hostess lives in a dazzling Victorian in my old San Francisco ‘hood. A jealous-making home they bought back when mere mortals could afford digs that grand.

Cruising down familiar streets lined with new unfamiliar shops and restaurants felt like connecting with a long lost friend. Ah, the ole coffee shop. Ah, that soap and shampoo shop. (How do they survive?) That dump of a grocery store, reborn as a Whole Foods.

I gazed out my car window at the inhabitants of my old stomping grounds walking around doing their Friday night things. Oh those cute child-free folks, I thought smiling and shaking my head. Spilling out of that Irish pub onto the sidewalk. Wandering through that used book store. Eating raw fish or spicy kid-unfriendly foods in white-tableclothed restaurants that don’t hand out crayons or booster seats.

It’s so cute that they know no other life!

And it was so thrilling to be amidst them. Even to just be driving down the street, looking at them like fish in an aquarium. Not so long ago I didn’t have this C-section scar! I ate off hangovers in that greasy spoon! And that the bar sign “Be quiet when you leave here, our neighbors are trying to fucking sleep”? That was aimed at me The Drinker, not me The Tired Old Neighbor.

I Pandoraed Bruce Springsteen the other night, and after Mark cleaned the kitchen from dinner he turned the volume way up and declared Family Dance Party. (This is something one can declare, like war. But it generally involves less casualties and more disco.)

Anyway, Mark grabbed Kate’s hand, stretched out her arm and frenetically strummed her stomach like a guitar. This is apparently the most hilarious, funny thing a father canĀ  do. On the scale of Fun Paternal Activities, this makes making chocolate chip you-name-the-shape pancakes on a Sunday morning seem like as much fun as running an errand at the hardware store.

Put simply, the child-as-guitar game rocks.

The whole time Mark’s working Kate like some Fender Stratocaster he’s wowing an arena full of crazed fans with, she’s nearly barfing she’s laughing so hard. And Paige is almost hyperventilating wanting it to be her turn. “Play ME, Dada! Plaaaay meeeee!”

I posted something on Facebook about Mark playing the kids like guitars to The Boss, and people posted comments like “Just as long as he doesn’t have to prove it all night,” and “Glory days, they’ll pass you by.”

Ah, good times.

Anyway, after everyone put back on the clothes they’d come in and the clothing swap wound down, I skipped out through the rainy night to my car. I pulled my hood over my forehead with one hand and clutched a bag of fabulous new-to-me clothes in the other. And I felt smug knowing that various women managed to take home all the weirdly drab, woolen clothes I’d contributed to the evening. (Perhaps mixed up in the fray as they were, each item on its own seemed less, well… Amish.)

I was giddy even admiring my parking job—squeezed into a tight spot on a steep hill. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl.

Life was good, right? I’d gone into a house knowing three people and came out with new friends and their old clothes.

And it was too early to know that my work husband would heckle my adopted long skirt when I wore it to work on Monday, asking, “Who was AT that swap? Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman?”

When I got back to my quiet, dark house, I dropped my sack of duds by the door, slipped off my boots, and tip-toed into Paigey’s room. She was snoozing in her usual sweaty, curly-haired way, head flopped to one side and cheeks flushed pink. In Kate’s room, my big girl was lodged between the edge of her mattress and her wall, blankets kicked off, and her stuffed dog Dottie draped across her neck like a string of pearls.

Before setting foot in either of their rooms, I could have described to you exactly how each of them were going to look.

Teeth brushed, email checked, dress yanked off and tossed into the dark of the room, I climbed into bed alongside Mark. He was snoring the very smallest little snore, deep asleep. I edged towards him to steal some warmth.

Say what you will about my single-gal city livin’. What I’ve got right here and now? Glory days for sure.


4 Comments on “Glory Days”

  1. 1 Susan said at 11:30 am on June 12th, 2011:

    I love your blog. I laugh out loud and people stare at me, but I don’t care because I have so much fun reading your blog. You are hilarious!
    Susan Harman

  2. 2 The Sweetest said at 3:42 pm on June 15th, 2011:

    I would have been terrified of the clothing swap. I used to like the way I dressed. Like my clothes. And then I had a kid. My closet is now a very strange place. Good for you for going!

  3. 3 kristen said at 12:02 am on March 7th, 2012:

    Yay, Susan. Just somehow saw this comment you left a while back and made the connection of who you are. Ha! So happy you are reading, mama!

  4. 4 kristen said at 12:06 am on March 7th, 2012:

    The Sweetest: But all is not lost, right? There is plenty of time for us all to get it right again on the clothing front–kids and all! I’m certain of it.

    And I don’t even think we need to debase ourselves on one of those hidden-camera TV shows to do it. (Oy–hidden cameras!)

    Just try to carve out some time to focus on some good basics you look and feel good in.

    I have girlfriends who ask when I have an event to go to, “Did you figure out what you’re going to wear?” and I’m so appreciative since most of the time I’ve just worried about packing for the rest of the family.

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