At first, I wasn’t sure why my mind wandered to this particular topic. It might have been the sense of torture brought on by endless exposure to political gurus.
Or perhaps it was the stomach ache which followed an uncontrollable fit of laughter. The latter occurred as I was perusing the latest issue of The New York Times Style Magazine, wondering, as I always do, who wears these things? And why?
April is a month that seems to inspire poetry. However, Chaucer, who praised April in his prologue to the “Canterbury Tales” would certainly not have agreed with the opening line of T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, “The Wasteland,” quoted above. But then again, Chaucer was not a woman who had to face the terror and humiliation of shopping for a new bathing suit.
Neither, I recognize, was T. S. Eliot, who nevertheless, with these five words, revealed a remarkable empathy with older women confronting the reality of the coming beach season. It is highly doubtful that this application of Eliot’s words will be found in any serious literary criticism. This particular interpretation of their meaning is all mine.
Greetings from Florida. I’m pleased to report that once again we have arrived safely. And once again I find myself surrounded by all of the suitcases and boxes of clothing that now require unpacking and stacking back into the closets and drawers. Each year as we make this transition I vow I will do better, be smarter, bring less, buy less. But all my promises seem to go the way of New Year’s resolutions. If I needed any further proof that I’m a complete failure at minimalism, here’s an essay that I posted two years ago, on this very topic. Sadly, nothing has changed.
On the whole, I think women are fabulous. But also a little crazy. I can say this because as part of the sisterhood, I have license to go where no man should dare to tread.
As a group, we are certainly better educated and more independent than the majority of our foremothers. But occasionally there is a circumstance that makes me question whether or not we have received our money’s worth from higher education.
Case in point. It was a cloudy, lazy Saturday afternoon, and my husband and I had spent the day at home catching up on neglected chores. In the midst of changing light bulbs and discarding leaky hoses, I suddenly remembered that we meant to choose a house gift for friends we were visiting that evening.
Overheard at Saks:
Shopper No. 1:“Ooh, that’s such an adorable dress.”
Shopper No. 2: “So why don’t you try it on?
Shopper No. 1: “Are you crazy? It’s sleeveless!
As we approach the warmer weather, I am convinced that this scene will be replayed over and over again in boutiques and department stores across the country. I don’t know if this fixation transcends continents, but American women of a certain age have a thing about their arms.
Typically, it is not the entire arm. The arm between the elbow and the wrist may be entirely acceptable. It is the area that lies between the shoulder and the elbow, otherwise known as the upper arm, that is the offending body part.
I was at a gathering the other day when I overheard a remark that caused me to commit an impulsive act. I shot out of my chair, ran over to a perfect stranger, and delivered a huge bear hug.
This very large man, who could have been Tony Soprano’s younger brother, was engaged in a conversation about popular music. His female companion, pointing a finger, had said in a mocking tone, “Don’t ask his opinion. He likes Barry Manilow.”
“You like Barry Manilow?” I repeated as I hugged him. “I love Barry Manilow. I have always loved Barry Manilow.”
If decisions I’ve made in my life were sorted into folders, this most recent choice would definitely be filed away under the heading “What Was I Thinking?” It certainly would not be the only item in that file, just the latest. In fact, if I reflect on many of the decisions I’ve made in the past, that would be one chubby file folder!
This most recent questionable decision had its origins in what is for me a religious activity. That is, getting a haircut. Those of you who know me, or who have read my blog about my tumultuous relationship with my crowning glory, know that I have a very short do. I get it cut once a month, without fail, and barely make it into the fourth week, when I swear I start to hear my hair growing.
In any event, on this particular day, which was a little shy of New Year’s Eve, I remarked to the stylist how, although it is trouble-free, I sometimes become bored with my look. There is not much you can do with hair that is less than a quarter-inch long. You can’t curl it. Not that I would want to. A pony tail is out of the question. And hair ornaments don’t stand a chance.
I have mixed feelings about formal occasions. On one hand, it’s an opportunity to release my inner child and play dress-up. On the other hand, my outer “mature” adult cringes as it contemplates the possible necessity of Spanx or other constricting undergarments. Even the idea of panty hose makes me shudder.
So when the invitation came to attend a charity ball as the guest of the honoree, my inclination was to say no, thank you very much for asking, and send a donation. My life would be no less rich for having missed one more mass-produced meal and some boring speeches. And I could lounge comfortably at home in my finest Russell athletic wear, sans undergarments if I so chose.
But there was a personal connection to the guest of honor, so we accepted. Besides, the venue was enticing. The affair was to be held on the USS Intrepid, the former WW II air craft carrier now a sea, air and space museum, located on Manhattan’s west side. If not entertaining, the evening at least held the prospect of being educational.
So you want an accurate weather forecast? Just ask a woman. As a gender, we are natural-born meteorologists. And we do it without any fancy equipment. No need for Doppler radar, barometers, hygrometers, or weather satellites. All we have to do is step outside, remain there for less than a minute, come back inside, look in a mirror, and observe the state of our hair.
For example, we can provide a humidity reading within a fraction of a percentage point by noting if our coif frizzes or goes flat. Temperature is accurately predicted by determining the perspiration factor and how it affects one’s bangs. Rain is definitely on the way if we decide it’s hopeless, yank it back with a hair tie, andor don a baseball cap.
I have come to believe that most women have a weird relationship with their locks. For one thing, we are never satisfied. If our hair is straight, we wish it were curly; if it’s curly, we wish it were straight. We change the color and we are forever changing the style. We will pay the equivalent of a month’s worth of groceries and fly half-way across the country for the perfect haircut.
Election day is almost here and thank goodness! After November 6th we can perhaps look forward to some respite before those tiresome political commercials are replaced by equally tiresome holiday commercials. Or perhaps not. In any event, I hope my readers have appreciated that my blogs have been non-political. At least until right now!
I am calling for more government regulation. Stop shouting, women of the Tea Party, and hear me out. There is an industry out there that has a long history of deceptive practices, especially where female consumers are concerned. As such, I am demanding a federal investigation into the villains who size women’s clothing, followed by the establishment of some uniform guidelines!
I hate packing for a trip. I hate packing for a trip almost as much as I hate preparing for a colonoscopy. It’s not so much the physical act of buttoning, folding, and strategic placement in the suitcase as it is the premeditation. I don’t know how it is for you men, but for most women with a sizeable wardrobe (and that is most women I know) it is the anguish of decision-making.
There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination with an over-stuffed suitcase and concluding that everything you brought with you makes you look fat!