Teen Daze

“Honey, I’m not hemming this skirt way up there. It won’t even cover your behind. People will get the wrong idea.”

“What’s the ‘wrong idea’?”

“That you’re cheap.”

“What does that mean?”

“No man wants used merchandise.”

Elizabeth shook her head. That didn’t make sense either.

The usual fight with mom over fashion. Elizabeth was petite. Any dress or skirt she bought at the store had to be shortened. On top of that, she made a lot of her own skirts and dresses. Mom HAD to mark the hems. There was no way out. Elizabeth shrugged. They’d reached a compromise; the middle of Elizabeth’s knee. Elizabeth wasn’t exactly happy about it, but the option was somewhere below the knee and seriously?

Elizabeth had found a way around mom’s puritanical totalitarianism.

By 7 am every morning she was out the door, books in hand. She raced down the short cut through the yards to Kathy’s — Kat’s — house. They had 20 minutes to get to school, a daily adventure that took them over an old trestle, across an open field, sideswiped the new mall, down two neighborhood streets, into the high school’s back door.

It was cold. February was fusty and ambivalent as ever, shooting them sharp snowflakes one minute, gusts of cold aggression the next, and blessing them with sun the next. Halfway through the field they looked around to see if anyone was looking. But who would? They lived in the furthest reaches of the city in a brand new neighborhood with brand new schools. They set their books on the ground and put one foot on their book pile in case the wind came up. They heisted up their coats, grabbed the waistband of their skirts and carefully rolled them. “Is it straight?” asked Kat, turning so Elizabeth could see her back.

“Yeah. Mine?”

“Looks good.”

They were set. The only danger was if they happened to sit on their skirts during some class or another, unrolling the back.

It was years before they understood why the boys liked sitting in discussion circles so much or why they were so clumsy with their pencils, always dropping them on the floor.


Cast Offs

“I took a nap, I don’t know, Tuesday? On the massage table listening to the tape, you know the one I had made of my personal resonating sounds? And I had a VERY important dream.” Shiela opened her purse, took out a smaller purse that held her tea bags and set one on the table waiting for the waitress to bring her pot of hot water. “One thing I like about this place when you ask for a pot of hot water they bring you a pot of hot water. Some places actually bring you a GLASS.”

“What was the dream?” Lissa hated her friend’s way of descending in to quotidian bitching and, anyway, she was sure Sheila had imbued the dream with deep meaning.

“Oh, the dream. I woke up and had only one thought, ‘Share with the poor.’ You know what I did?”

“No. No idea.”

“I cleaned my closet. I separated the worn stuff from the wearable stuff. You know what, Lissa? I have a LOT of clothes I never wear.”

Lissa looked down at her plate. Sheila’s taste and hers were pretty different, still. Sheila bought a lot of beautiful clothes, even if they were more along the lines of hippy-boho-chic than Lissa would ever buy. She swallowed hard. “What did you do?”

“Oh, I haven’t finished yet. I bagged up the stuff I wouldn’t wear but someone would and took it to Goodwill. Then, the stuff I could wear but never do? I’m not sure. I have to give it to the poor, but I’m not sure a lot of it is useful to the poor.”


The waitress appeared with Sheila’s hot water. Sheila filled her cup and put in the tea bag. “I always bring my own tea bags,” she said, something Lissa had known for years and years. “Ginger and green tea.” Lissa knew that, too.

“Sheila, I’m the poor.”


“Well, yeah. I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. I was just lucky to find a halfway decent suit for my interview last month.”

“Yeah, but you don’t want my cast-offs.”

“Why don’t I? Either I go through them when they get hung on the rack at Goodwill or you just give them to me.” Lissa laughed. “I mean, you know.

Sheila did know. Lissa was a pro at what she did, but it didn’t pay well and when her husband had left her for another woman, he’d left Lissa with the house and a lot of debt. Lissa worked hard to keep body and soul together. The waitress appeared with their lunches and set the plates carefully in front of them.

“You want to come over after lunch? We can go through all that stuff.”

Lissa was suddenly embarrassed. Why had she said anything? She stuck her fork into the tofu, spinach and walnut lasagna that was a specialty here at Kung Fud. “Never mind, Sheila. I feel weird now.”

“It’s OK, Lissa. I should have thought. But we really don’t have the same taste, do we?”

Lissa shook her head. “No, not really.”

The two women dropped the subject and went on to the usual, Sheila’s problems with her SO and Lissa’s struggles at work. By the time they’d finished lunch they’d forgotten all about the wardrobe discussion. The next time they met for lunch, though, Sheila handed Lissa a package. “I thought you would appreciate this. It’s a work of art.”

Lissa opened it and found inside a hand dyed, hand made Ikat kimono. She looked up at Sheila.

“I got it back in the days I was going back and forth to Japan. I’ve never worn it. I guess it could be a robe or a light coat, but isn’t it beautiful?

And it was.


Buying $100 Jeans for $15 on eBay: the Holy Grail

Ah, fashion. What a strange world you are.

I found some jeans I like a few years ago and I bought two pair.  Damn, if they haven’t worn out. One pair of them, anyway, shot to hell. The other I’m saving “for good.” I like them, and I still wear them, knees poking out and so on, but I know the truth. I’m a 65 year old woman and the shredded jeans look isn’t cool on me. I actually don’t think it looks good even on Kim Kardassian. In fact maybe especially not on Kim Kardassian.

So I went to the catalog (new edition) from which I bought them. Found the “same” ones. Ordered them. Hang the price, I love these jeans. They arrived. I put them on. They turned out to be baggy, shapeless high waters (on me that’s saying something; I have short legs — these were cut for small fry). Definitely NOT the jeans I love. But I kept them because, well, I needed jeans. It’s not a style that works with punk rock t-shirts. I’m not sure it’s a style at all.

Jeans today often have spandex. After a day or two the spandex had spanded and I could take off these jeans without opening them.

“That means they’re too big,” said my friend. Nothing gets past her.

Then I — on a whim — went on eBay. These jeans I loved were an old model. Maybe???

I’d like to end this story on a happy note, to say, “I found them on eBay for a fraction of the price” because that’s what all of us what to hear, but I haven’t found them, not that I’m sure of. Maybe. A pair that LOOKS like them is headed to me in the mail. $15.