“I forgot my pants,” I say to my sister this morning as we’re heading into town. She’d just announced to my niece and nephew in an unnaturally chipper tone that we were only “5 minutes behind schedule today,” so I didn’t give her offer to turn around much weight.
I was wearing a pair of khaki Bermudas with a chocolate brown shirt. Classic, yet casual. Very me. Appropriate for shuttling coffee to my sister’s office and reading from the computer textbook I’m supposed to be studying for the class I’m missing this week—but definitely not what to wear when returning to your alma mater to deliver an assembly, which is what I was asked to do this afternoon.
From the get-go, clothes--shirts in particular--have been an issue on this trip.
T-24 hours before my train departed, the red shirt I planned to wear to the Beaver Library event went missing. I don’t do well with missing. It’s an issue with deep roots—as a kid, I was always on the hunt for a missing Barbie shoe, or getting my head stuck between the banisters in pursuit of a stray marble.
We turned the house upside down into the wee hours before my departure, finding the red shirt in a remote outpost with mere seconds to spare.
After the unfortunate sweat-through before yesterday’s radio interview, the red shirt was deployed early on an emergency basis.
Alone at my parents’ house after the interview, I was forced to toss the shirt out the front door, aiming for a sunny patch of sidewalk in a frantic attempt to dry it.
By this morning, clean shirts were slim pickings. I stuffed the sweaty ones in my backpack, hoping to throw them in the washer at my parents’ house before I left to conduct assemblies at the middle school. The clock was ticking on the getting the must-have red top ready for a fresh soaking tonight.
But I forgot. Things here have taken on a bit of the feel of the American Idol scenes when the finalists visit their hometowns before the finale show. A reporter appeared at the school assembly. More radio cropped up—OK,OK—this time it WAS at my dad’s station—the illusion of a “major book tour” is beginning to take a toll on my wardrobe. Remember, I gave up a percentage of my luggage space for the five year old Africa memorabilia that my sister claims to have never seen.
“I know, let’s trade clothes at lunch,” my sister said.
There were so many reasons the red shirt should have just been waved aloft as a flag at this point.
Wednesday began with a controversy over a janitorial smock that my sister won’t let me tell you about. She’s reading the blog these days, and freely admits the clothing swap was a flagrant ploy to insert herself into the plot.
The problem is, my sister’s wardrobe is cut from different cloth than mine. She’s skirt-and-blouse, I’m jeans and leather. This isn’t a bad thing—it’s just the way it is. I know this. You probably get it, too. But even as I write this, my sister is waving a Mexican skirt around the kitchen in testimony to her “fun” wardrobe.
There wasn’t anything wrong with what she was wearing—a chocolate brown skirt with a rope tie and a khaki-colored striped shirt. Some would say it was the reciprocal of my outfit.
But for reasons no one can pin-point, I looked like a frumpy, oversized school marm in her clothes.
And my sister? The poor thing grabbed the blow dryer and started fanning her pits as soon as she donned my chocolate shirt.
After the assembly we did a hasty load of wash.
“Aunt Cindy, how many times have you changed today,” my nephew asks on the way to the Beaver Library.
I counted four, including the black top I had on then.
We almost lost my sister at the Q + A.
A hand from the audience.
“So, with writing, how much is inspiration and how much is perspiration?”