My nephew Griffin, although he still gets a kick out of watching SpongeBob SquarePants, would not be caught dead outside of the house actually wearing SpongeBob anything – not a jacket, not a shirt, and certainly not the hat and scarf set I got him last year.
And so it now goes for my grandnephew, Little Timmy, who, as he approaches 7 years of age, is embarrassed by his once way-cool Spiderman coat. Sorry, Spidey.
As Timmy fought back tears while putting on his coat the other day, Linda confided to me that she was saddened by this unavoidable, evolutionary step in the maturing process of her grandson. "It's normal," I said, before sharing with her how
"All kids go through this," I told her. "Don't you remember how we hated when Mom and Dad would make us go places with them unannounced – leaving us little to no time to prepare ourselves for being seen out in public?" "Yeah, when we were teens," she said, "not 7." This got me thinking.
My niece Olivia once remarked that I don't care how I look – she meant it as a compliment. I'm a no-muss, no-fuss person – a real jeans and T-shirt girl. You almost can't get any more casual than I do – not as long as it's still considered inappropriate to go out in public in your PJs anyway.
So, when did this happen, I wondered. We already know why I'm not flaunting my… girly assets, will call them (see 7-20-08 post Conservative by nature?), but when did I give up the style ship? When did I conclude that Levi Strauss would be the name brand for me? When did I decide that one can never have too many white T-shirts? When? When? Well, I think it may have been as far back as sixth grade – that's right, at 11 years of age, I jumped off the fashion train. (How many modes of mass transportation do you think I'll mention here?)
It was 1975 and I remember leafing through the Sears catalog – hey, it was 1975 – when a dark green pantsuit, yes, a pantsuit – it was 1975 – with a butterfly theme caught my eye. It was beautiful. The bell-bottom pants were complimented by a leisure-style, man-tailored jacket with a huge embroidered butterfly on it. Completing the ensemble was a white shirt, also stitched with colorfully winged creatures – as I said, beautiful.
I pined for this pantsuit. When my birthday arrived, I was thrilled when I opened my grandmother's gift to find that lovely piece of polyester haute couture just lying in wait for me amid a bed of wispy tissue paper. I could not wait to wear it to school.
Unfortunately, it brought me a lot of unexpected attention – a lot: "What's with the suit?" Huh? "Whadya tryin' to look like a teacher?" Hm? "Where'd you get that – the Sears catalog?" "NO! I said as defiantly as I could, trying to mask my embarrassment. In those few moments all my previous excitement was completely obliterated, and when I got home that day, having miraculously survived the failed foray into fashion, with a sigh, I hung up my fancy pantsuit – never to be worn again.
Boy, when you couple that experience with the confirmation gown episode, it's almost a wonder that I ever leave the house at all. Of course, I was never forced to go out in public in my bedroom slippers like my brother once was – but that's a whole different story. Look out – here comes the Slipperman!