Thursday, February 16, 2012

What I Wore

As I mentioned a few weeks back, my goal each time I'm at the book store is to choose a book that is short enough I can probably finish it in 4 hours. The idea was that I could read something I probably would never read otherwise. I've successfully done that during each of my afternoons there and am getting into the hang of it, and even starting to plan.

Since I was going to work on Valentine's day, I thought about what would be good and appropriate to read on that day. I decided I should pick out a Harlequin romance novel because a good bodice-ripper seemed to be appropriate for this holiday of romance, and I had never actually read a Harlequin romance because it just isn't my cuppa tea and this would be my chance to get a feel for them.

Well, I couldn't find a Harlequin romance (perhaps because owners, Susan and Peter, have better taste?) so that left me looking for something appropriate to read on Valentine's day.

Elizabeth Berg's "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" concerns a 30-something woman whose biological clock is ticking and who is madly in love with her gay ex-fiance and can't see herself with anyone else. My review is on my Books Read in 2012 page, so I won't repeat it here, but it did kinda fit into the whole Valentine's Day theme, being concerned with love and marriage and that sort of thing.

The problem with the book was that even though it was nearly 300 pages, it was a very fast read and I ended up with an hour and a half left of my time before I was going to be leaving, so I went to look for another very short book.

I ended up choosing a book I'd heard of for some time, Ilene Beckerman's "Love and Loss and What I Wore." It's a very short book and half of it is cartoonish drawings so I knew I could finish it in plenty of time. If you aren't familiar with the book, it is Beckerman's life as told through the clothes she wore at significant times in her life -- school dances, her wedding, the period of time after her divorce, job interviews, etc. One page explains the situation and the facing page is one of her cartoons, showing herself in that outfit.

Someone reviewing this book on Amazon wrote, "So much of our memories have an affiliation with an outfit...this is a celebration of being a woman."

This was a book I could not relate to at all. I started thinking about it today and tried to remember any clothes that I wore throughout that made such an impact on me that years later I could remember them.

BrownieUniform.jpg (57520 bytes)Beckerman starts with her Brownie uniform and so far we were doing well together, she and I. I do remember my Brownie uniform, with its little beanie with the tag on the top of it. I even remember my green Girl Scout uniform and the sash that went across my chest, where my mother sewed on my merit badges.

I also remember my school uniforms, the white middyblouse with blue collar and cuffs and the navy blue pleated skirt that went with it for grammar school, and then the green plaid skirt and white blouse, with green sweater for high school.

It would be surprising if I didn't remember these uniforms, since I wore the grammar school uniform for eight years and the high school uniform for four years. I maybe losing my memory occasionally, but if I forget what those uniforms looked like, we can all start to worry.

But I sat here today and tried to remember "significant" clothes throughout my life. I remember the matching Easter outfits that Karen and I wore one year. They were grey tailored outfits made by a Russian seamstress named Olga Gayno (that last name may be spelled wrong...probably is!). I don't know why I remember that except maybe because having clothes specially tailored for me was a big deal. I don't know who Olga was or how my mother found her. Presumably through my grandmother.

The only other piece of clothing that I can remember during grammar school is a circle skirt that was black and quilted with a gold thread. I loved wearing skirts that "swirled" and this was a good swirling skirt. I usually wore it with a short-sleeved blouse or sweater and a neck scarf because I loved how Audrey Hepburn looked wearing a neck scarf. Somewhere there is a picture of me in that skirt in 8th grade (which is maybe why I remember it).

I've tried and tried and can't think of a thing I wore during my high school years except the yellow dress I wore to my junior prom and the green emerald satin dress I wore to my senior prom. There is a lovely picture of me in that emerald dress.

Of course I remember my wedding dress and the pink suit that was my going-away outfit, but when I think of all the significant events in my life I can't connect any of them to dresses. I don't remember what I wore to any of my job interviews, or what I wore to any of the kids' baptisms. I don't remember the clothes I wore to my children's funerals.

Oh, I can remember some clothes I owned, I remember photos of me in certain dresses or other outfits, but I could not, for the life of me, tell my story by the clothes that I wore.

Heck, I can hardly remember which t-shirt is under the sweatshirt I am wearing as I sit here.

I have to face it -- clothing has never been a big deal in my life, at least not to remember how I felt at certain times by remembering clothes that I wore. Ilene Beckerman, you're a better (wo)man than I am!!!


Harriet said...

The only time I read Harlequin books was when the subscription was mixed in with an offer of free pantyhose. (Those weren't very good either.)

Within a couple of months I had closed both subscriptions and given the books to the library. If one removes the tearing of apparel, these books are the same as the stuff I read in junior high -- and tired of by high school.

Kwizgiver said...

I enjoy Elizabeth Berg, we've read a couple of her books in various book groups I've been in over the years.