So in anticipation of starting my fantabulous new job tomorrow (and by fantabulous I mean existing) I headed to the sometime-treasure trove known as Deseret Industries for some cheap khaki type pants that lean more to the "business" side of "business casual." Because I've needed some for a while, and this just seemed like a good time to start the collection.
I will never go to DI on a Saturday again. The place was seriously a madhouse - it was like Black Friday or something in there . . . more crowded than I ever seen before in any DI. And it was mostly families shopping for clothes, which would have made sense back in August, you know, when back to school shopping was going on. Has there been some sort of change in school requirements or something, and now you have to have a completely new wardrobe for the second half of the school year. Seriously - crazy! I had to wait almost twenty minutes to get into a dressing room, mostly because this one woman had her daughters taking up three of the five rooms. Every time one of them came out to model whatever she was trying on this woman would give them at least three more items of clothing to try on. Un-freaking-believable. Finally one of the girls told her mom she didn't want to try on any more clothes, but as the woman (who I'm telling myself is an anomaly and a nutcase in order to retain my own semblance of sanity) kept trying to insist on "just a few more" the daughter quickly turned to begging not to have to try any more clothes on. Now, there are two reasons and two reasons only that a teenage girl would be begging not to try on any more clothes. 1) She's already tried on more clothes than are in Paris Hilton's entire wardrobe. 2) She's shopping with my mother.
I don't wear dresses or skirts, except to church. Ever. This wasn't always the case. I remember one Christmas, I had to have been at least five because I was in school, I got this really cute dark-hot pink not-quite-knee-length knit skirt and a cute black top to go with it. I loved that outfit. I thought I looked so stylish, and I probably did . . . well, stylish for the early '90s if nothing else. I wore that outfit to school - even in the winter, walking the quarter mile or so with my bare little legs freezing, but suffering for fashion. (reference for those who would know: this would be when we were living in the apartment that was around the corner from the basement where we lived when we first moved to IF.)
Time, tide, and fashion, of course, wait for no man . . . or five-year-old, for that matter. And the trends turned toward jeans. I, however, still wore a lot of skirts and dresses. And leggings. And stirrup pants, which I always hated and never understood how anyone could possibly like them or be comfortable in them. And sweats. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing sweats in public now, but in fourth and fifth grade I had a black sweatshirt with a neon teddy bear scene on it and black sweats to go with it. I did like the outfit, but this was also about the time that I started realizing just how differently I was dressed as compared to the other kids. And, naturally, when I started to want to dress at least a little bit more like everybody else. This was also about the point in time that I was informed that I would continue to be dressed the way my mother liked with the occasional bit of lip service paid to my preferences. Okay, so that wasn't quite how it was phrased, but kids are good at reading between lines. Better than most adults give them credit for. (Also: if your kid is in the same room as you while you're carrying on a conversation with another adult or on the phone, assume they're listening, because they probably are. You pick up the most interesting tidbits of gossip that way. I don't remember much of it now, but I felt so grown up for knowing it back then, even if I didn't always get it. But I digress . . . )
Luckily, with my 12th birthday came YW, and with YW came Girl's Camp, for which I was lucky enough to get a couple of pairs of jeans - my first. Holy crap, I was psyched! Sadly, the next school year I started junior high. I say sadly for two reasons. 1) Is there anyone on this planet who was not hopelessly awkward in some way in junior high? At least one? I submit that there is not. 2) My mother decided that, as I would be entering the workforce in approximately ten years it was high time (and probably past time) that I start dressing like a responsible business executive. I hear you laughing - and I kid you not. I was forced to try on pair after pair of fancy-pants pants and ended up with a black pair and a white pair that would not have looked out of place on someone in middle management. They were both pleated. PLEATED!!! Seriously, who decided that looked good? Whoever invented pleated pants should be drug out in the street and shot . . . right next to whoever invented stirrup pants. The only time pleats look good are on cheer-type skirts. (I had one of those in junior high too. It was red, school color, so I pretended I was a cheerleader - I knew that was the closest I'd ever get.) Sadly, I had to wear the fancy-pants pants. Frequently. Five days in a week, only two pairs of jeans, and I hadn't been introduced to the concept of wearing articles of clothing more than once . . . that would come in college, when laundry quarters were such a precious commodity that I got a roll for Christmas and it was the best present I got that year. But as much as I hated those pants, I did eventually grow more or less resigned to them. I'm not sure the reason was good though.
This was the point in time where I was happy to give up the whole skirt-wearing thing as something for little kids and grown-ups. Sure, I would maybe have to wear skirts to work (a full DECADE down the road . . . that's an eternity to a 12-year-old!!) but right now I didn't have to, so I would just enjoy this blissful pants-everyday-if-I-want-to-and-preferably-jeans-please-and-thank-you phase as long as I could. And if that had been what had happened, I imagine I would be a different person today in a lot of ways. However, this was also the point in time where I heard the most about how my mother wasn't allowed to wear pants when she was in school (emphasis not mine) and how girls wearing pants to school had to be a sign of the Apocalypse - wasn't it one of the last things mentioned in Revelation? (Okay, that last bit was a slight exaggeration, but it was the sense I got from the tone of the first bit.) So I was forced to wear a skirt to school about once a week. Seriously - not allowed to leave the house unless I was in the leg exposing outfit chosen for me that day. Including a couple of dresses that, again, would not look out of place on some of the managers I had at Disney. Oy! In retrospect, I'm surprised I wasn't forbidden to wear skirts to school considering I played the cello in orchestra - I mean, really, violin playing junior high boys sitting facing directly toward me? I'm sure they got a bit of a show, even though I tried to be careful . . . especially when I wore the cheer skirt. Even if I could have ever gotten up the guts to try the old bring-a-different-outfit to school trick, this was also the point in time when mom was doing a lot of subbing, and I never knew if or when she would show up at school to teach halfway through the day. And I'm betting that if I'd gotten caught, I'd still be grounded today.
I hit rock bottom one week the winter of eighth grade. I remember it very well - mostly because I still can't think about it without feeling a few tears of humiliation build. Mom had pulled out some of the clothes she'd worn when she was my age - where she found them I've never known, and don't want to know - at the start of the school year and told me to put them into my wardrobe rotation. Needless to say I didn't - I'd stick with my own ugly clothes as opposed to my mom's ugly and outdated clothes, thank you. The irony is that if she had pulled out some polyester bellbottoms, or pretty much anything even remotely disco-ish or hippie-ish I would have worn them everyday. I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but at Clair E. Gale JHS we were in the middle of a 60s/70s retro fashion craze, and I thought the look was just as cool as everyone else did. But in perhaps the most ironic moment of my life, I learned that my mother hated those styles with a passion when they were new and I would only be wearing clothes like that over her dead body. What I had instead were skirts and jumpers that didn't seem to fit into any era, but merely screamed "the clothes I'm wearing are older than I am." By this time I had four pairs of jeans, and one week, after complaining for some time about how she was sick of me wearing pants everyday took away every pair I owned - even the fancy-pants pants. In fact, she took everything except her old clothes . . . locked them up, or gave them to someone to store for a week, or simply hid them somewhere . . . I don't know. All I know is for one solid week I wore twenty-year-old skirts to school everyday. In eighth grade - junior high - that period in time when just about everyone is trying desperately to look exactly like everyone else I stuck out like the sorest of sore thumbs for a full week. And as we all know, five days is the equivalent of about a century in 13-year-old time. The school was small enough that pretty much everybody knew that I never wore skirts to school by choice, but it didn't stop the comments and giggles. One scene sticks out in my mind to this day - it was Wednesday, mom was subbing at CEG so I rode with her instead of walking. Nobody was allowed in the halls before the first bell except to deliver instruments to the band room. A friend of mine was there at the same time, and we went to her locker (yes, against the rules. I was such a rebel). The day before I'd worn a light blue jumper with a white shirt underneath, and had been told several times I looked like Alice in Wonderland. I was wearing an identical outfit that day, except it was pastel-rainbow-striped. While at Randi's locker we were talking and she mentioned how someone the day before had told her that I looked like- here she paused for a second, and I filled in the blank, but no, apparently I also looked like Dorothy of Oz. That was one of the most embarrassing moments in my life, and at that exact moment as I was very close to tears, when I saw my mom walk past. It was a long hallway, and we were the only ones in it, so I knew she'd heard us and I spent the rest of the day praying that she'd have a change of heart and give me my pants back early - even if it was just the black fancy-pants pants that I really truly hated.
No such luck.
The next year we moved to Utah, and when mom made me wear a dress on picture day I faked sick on the drive (this would be when we were still living in Ogden because the house wasn't done, but going to school in Tremonton). So I have no ninth grade picture in the yearbook. Thankfully mom got her IRS job that involved her leaving so early in the morning that she rarely, if ever, saw how we dressed for school before school was over for the day.
I haven't worn a skirt anywhere I could conceivably get away with pants since.
Time and tide and all that jazz again, and while I was perfectly happy this way through high school and college, around the time I moved to Florida I kind of wanted to start wearing skirts and dresses again. But I could never bring myself to do it. My friends would wear cute sundresses when we went to the parks together like it was nothing. When we got all dolled up to go to PI they'd sometimes throw on a dress - I'd always put on my dressiest jeans with a cute top and cute boots. I feel jealous now . . . they look so cute and put together and comfortable and confident. I want to be able to do that. I want to wear a cute skirt just to go out shopping at the mall and not feel like everyone I see is staring at me and wondering why I'm dressed so weird. I even tried a few times in Florida, but every time before I could even walk out of my room I had . . . I don't know, flashbacks I guess . . . of my junior high friends' pitying looks whenever I showed up at school in a skirt - "you mom picked your clothes again?" I hear my conversation with Randi at her locker that day "they said you looked like . . . " "*sigh* Alice in Wonderland?" "No . . . Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz." . . . and almost before I know what I'm doing I'm changing into pants. No, not pants - jeans. The one piece of lower body apparel I feel truly comfortable in.
Logically, I know I'm being somewhat ridiculous. I know there's nothing wrong with casually wearing a skirt and most people wouldn't even notice, much less remember or think anything it. But I still can't bring myself to do it, even though I want to. People talk all the time about this or that little thing leaving them scarred for life - dude, I say it all the time - and most of the time it's just talk. But I don't know . . . I think maybe, in at least this case, I am.
P. ost S. cript
Major props for the (I'm guessing) two of you who actually read this whole thing! Here's your prize: disintigrating iphones and glow sticks. Too cool. :-)