Monday, August 25, 2008

Embers and Ashes

I feel like summer was snuffed out along with the Olympic flame last night.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fits Me to a "T"

I like to think of myself a reasonably stylish person. Granted, the only pieces of my wardrobe that hail from New York are a couple pairs of striped socks I got from a Manhattan street vendor and a sweatshirt purchased from a seedy hole in the wall in the Bronx—and I’ll submit the cavernous gap through which I ducked in order to access the store’s singular broken mirror to illustrate the literal nature of my description. But even in the absence of 5th Avenue panache, I like to think that I’m holding my own with off-the-rack finds from Target and JC Penny.

So it was with a dual sense of shock and concern that I faced the realization that an entire segment of my wardrobe is decidedly substandard. Folding laundry on a recent evening in an attempt to stay awake for the Colbert Report, it occurred to me that perhaps none of the t-shirts and sweatpants that comprise my gym and sleepwear collection are the kind of garments I should ever chance being caught dead in; not unlike the underwear my mother used to discourage us from wearing outside the house--you know, the ones with holes and frayed elastic—just in case we became involved in a traffic accident. Maybe it’s just me, but I always figured that if I lost my pants in an accident, I’m looking at bigger problems than second string underwear.

But the specter of sudden disaster looms large as I consider the possibility of being a victim of one of those fires where you escape “with the clothes on your back.” For typical folks, this sort of thinking might be categorized as catastrophic, “worst case” sort of thinking, but—let’s face it—I start a lot of fires. Even without my help, the circa 1930s wiring in my home has been known to smolder on a whim—so I really don’t think that escape-the-flames type musings are that far-fetched. So I see it as entirely likely that I could find myself—should I execute a particularly noteworthy escape--being interviewed on camera in the lawn in front of my burning house, actually modeling the clothes with which I escaped.

Which opens the door to the possibility that I could be on television wearing any number of commemorative t-shirts from 1990s youth events, some sporting archival residue from the actual event—including but certainly not limited to roofing tar from a 1999 work camp, or one of several shirts splotched in a shade of dull green paint from a Mexican house raising a couple summers back. Then there’s the plethora of “thank-you” wear I’ve accumulated from various schools and libraries who have welcomed me in for book readings and writing workshops. A couple shirts—such as the middle school spirit T splotched Mexico-green—even pull double duty. In short, this is fabric that has served hard time—working class cloth from the front lines of life. I like to think of the attire collectively as threadbare pages of a wearable cotton journal.

Now, I’ve heard of people who have used similar clothing to create quilts, effectively transforming an unsightly wardrobe into an instantly-well worn security blanket. Unfortunately, I only know one quilt pattern, a sort of pinwheel affair that I suspect--if applied to my t-shirts—might just render an overall effect of my life tossed in a blender.

Besides, I find it vaguely comforting to surround myself with the experiences I’ve lived, and maybe this sort of wearable history is exactly what I’d want to have on my person in the slightly unlikely event of fire.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

No Sweat

I wear a lot of black. And while I really like to believe that this is because black makes a fashionable foundation for a range of looks, it’s also due to a more practical reason:

I sweat. A lot.

Now I know that revealing this fact doesn’t portray me in the most glamorous light. In fact, the last time I blogged about sweat, my own husband—typically my biggest fan—dismissed the whole post as “thirty year old girl bathroom humor.”

Chances are, he won’t like this story a bit. The bulk of it actually takes place in the bathroom, and I find it fairly hilarious.

Fudging a bit on the black-top format, I wore a shade of chocolate brown to an event I was at, let’s just say, sometime within the last month. It was hot—faulty air conditioning—and I was feeling damp enough to warrant a check into how the lighter-than-black garment was shoring up. To my horror, the bathroom mirror revealed an unacceptable level of, shall we say, water damage. I looked around the room, frantically searching for something—anything—to enable me to return to society without my arms crossed forebodingly across my chest.

My eyes settled on a basket of assorted feminine products. Ah ha! I unwrapped the two thinnest liners and got to work sticking them to the inside of my shirt. Did I mention that the dripping chocolate shirt was a sleeveless number?

However, with a little adjusting and readjusting, I was soon confident enough to circulate among the general public. Moments later, I was feeling dryer and a subsequent check in the bathroom mirror confirmed that my idea had been right on the money.

And money was precisely what I began thinking. Oh, the possibilities! Why had no one thought of this before? Letters to the leading feminine hygiene companies began composing themselves in my head. Which one would jump first at the opportunity to foray into a whole new world of keep-dry products? I began brainstorming names for my thin, contoured feats of engineering—catchy monikers like The Pit Stop, or The Dryer Sheet.

Eager though I was to share my excitement here in this forum, I gave pause upon remembering an article I recently read about the family responsible for the current Croc jewelry craze. Evidently, the whole, multi-million dollar industry began with a couple little girls doing what little girls do—decking things out with beads and bangles. One rainy afternoon, they cut loose on the family’s wardrobe of rubbery, candy colored footwear, making all manner of adornments with which to plug those unsightly holes. The father came home—and seeing the same mental dollar signs that enlivened my oh-so-dry visions—refused to let a single decorated Croc walk out of the family abode until he had the idea patented.

Ah, the patience! The wisdom! The calculated restraint demonstrated by this successful entrepreneur is, of course, the difference between being the common girl with a good idea or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

That, and research.

Mine lasted the amount of time it took my computer to display the results of my first google search.

Evidently, “sweat shields” aren’t so novel an idea. There are entire companies devoted to keeping folks like me dry and presentable—since 1869.

So, while my wardrobe may soon be venturing out of consistent shades of deep midnight, it doesn’t look like I will be able to transfer the permanently black color scheme to my bank account.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin