Today I posted off a letter, from a small shop selling faded greeting cards, what-nots and stamps, they also did Dry-Cleaning. As I waited for the clerk enjoying a smoke out back, I saw a garment of great meaning hanging unclaimed on a rack.
As happened at random, I felt my shadow child beside me, leaning laughing on my shoulder- Godfrey. In the stuffy, grimy shop I was once again Gob Smacked by a memory…. Unlike Godfrey in high school, I was quite the academic, wrote fine essays on the infamous and obscure. I understood the past participle of the verb “Avoir”, impressed all in biology with my knowing, my downfall, sadly was home economics, my muffins had tunnels, I was incompetent at sewing.
No, teacher was not mean, yet I cowered over my machine, an ancient treadle one, in the rear of the room, set apart, from where the posh girls sewed pretty outfits that fit, giggling over back stitch, button hole and dart. Happy when ignored I labored, made the one piece apron , and flannel nightgown great and wide. It had only one arm hole, seams which somehow I sewed together, leaving the rear exposed and collar off to one side.
I hoped Mrs Heikila would give up on me, and send me off to typing class, Despite my “Fail” in nightgown she ignored my plea, and brought in a pattern from “Simplicity”.
It was a jacket and skirt, of modest length to the knee, the type of jacket a career girl may wear. Mrs Heikila had buttons in a drawer for it, and a roll of material she deemed appropriate. Not bile or Avocado, somewhere in between, which when he saw it Godfrey explained the odd shade- Horse -Slobber- Green.
To make short story long, I worked all year leaning over that sewing machine. I sewed and shed tears, I picked out every seam, I put a zipper where no zipper went. I stayed after class as the posh girls laughed . On weekends I endured Mrs Gibberflat , shaking dissapointed finger when I broke her precious Singer, sewed on each button in a row. I vowed to give the outfit to Goodwill if ever it was done, dreamed of the day I would never again have to sew.
“What became of the jacket and skirt?, Godfrey asked. (Years Later) Was on his summer visit as I planned my wedding day, I believe he was somewhat shocked I chose to wed, but he liked my quiet cowboy, his horses and the books that he read.
Well, I told Godfrey, sitting in my turquoise chair, Mrs Gibberflat hid the outfit, I know not where. As you well recall, she never throws anything out. I knew he could not be there when I journeyed up the long aisle to my groom, but he had a way with Mrs Gibberflat and later that day, the awful sewing project hung, freshly ironed on a hangar in my room.
My teacher, years before had lectured, “Worzel, you cannot hide in sweatshirts and baggy jeans forever” I had lived to prove her wrong, but went and put the outfit on, I put it on for love, it fit like a rubber glove. I thought of the girls who made fun of me, were snide about my sewing, critical and mean. For Godfrey on my wedding day I trod up the aisle, in my handmade outfit of horse-slobber-green.
That was long ago, still I laugh about it all, looking back. There, unclaimed on the dry cleaners rack was an outfit the same pattern, in conservative beige. Same jacket, same buttons from a bygone age. Same skirt of modest length, hem very straight,” kralharfleph’!, coughed the clerk, waving away a smoke ring as she strolled in from her break, sorry dear she choked, for making you wait.
So many years come and gone, so much joy since Godfrey persuaded me to put the outfit on. “It is only looking back, said he”, that taught me to appreciate those who’s prodding I rebelled against at the time” “For it is how I learned persistence, found the humor and the courage, to envision a peaceful world of rhyme”.