Feb 10, 2009

One red kilt

Nora Ephron has a new play being staged in New York City right now. Called Love, Loss and What I Wore, it's actually a "reading" at this point and will benefit a not-for-profit that provides nice clothes to low-income women for job interviews. I heard Ephron, who wrote the play with her sister, talking about it on public radio this afternoon while I was feeding Lucy homemade applesauce for lunch.

It's a series of monologues about clothes and memories and how, for women anyway, they intertwine (complete with celebrity readers like Joy Behar, a la Vagina Monologues). On WNYC, Ephron talked about how one common thread among the many stories gathered for the production was that every woman could remember one special coveted item of clothing that they were denied as a child. For her, it was a muff. Poor girl, her mother just laughed in her face and said no without even considering what joy a muff could bring her baby girl.

For me, it was a red plaid kilt. Christmas, I think when I was in Grade 3 or 4. I didn't get it. I got a doll instead. I don't know if my mom forgot or thought I would lose interest immediately anyway. Or, maybe, that I needed to be taught the lesson that you can't always get what you want. An important lesson, true. But it's also nice to get what you want sometimes.

Later, there were lots of things, of course, at that age when fashion becomes important and girls can be cruel if you don't have the right shoes. I remember a girl (whose name I will never forget) in my Grade 7 tallying up the dollar value of my outfit out loud in class to shame me for having a mom who shopped the Sears catalogue and not somewhere cooler.

I hope when Lucy is old enough to care about such things, I will remember what it was like and try to accommodate her fashion requests within reason. I don't want to spoil her, but want to teach that when you can't get what you want (because, say, your mom can't afford it), you can find some way to reach a compromise; if she wants a muff, maybe we can make one or spend a Saturday searching second-hand shops.

Because I'd rather that chapter in her memoir describe how her mom made her
a kilt out of a tablecloth...maybe it was too ugly to wear out of the house, but at least we'll have tried.

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