Nan left a comment Wednesday that caused an old, suppressed memory to resurface:
When I was eight, I never wore dresses. I was a tomboy. But one day my mum and grandmother convinced me to wear this beautiful swirly dress to a birthday party. I arrived at the party and all of my soccer-playing guy buddies were like "A DRESS?" so I did a twirl as prettily as I could. They fell about in hysterics crying "WE SAW YOUR PANTIES!!"
So I did not wear a dress again till my wedding day. It's been a long, gradual journey for me, but I now love skirts again!
When Green Girl was a young lass she loved her dresses. Her mother sewed a mean streak and she made Green Girl jumpers and sundresses, dresses with smocking and lace overlays, collars and puffed sleeves. Green Girl had dresses in yellow gingham, pink stripes, blue flowers and green polka dots. Swirly, twirly, girly dresses that she wore to the grocery store, to church, to play dates, to parties and to Wilson Elementary. It was a happy, pretty childhood.
Cut to 2nd grade when my family moved west to Wyoming. I wore my dresses to my new school without incident for a while, until one day while stooping for a drink at the water fountain (my first faux pas in Wyoming occurred when I'd asked where the bubbler was and no one knew this Wisconsin-speak). While bent over to refresh myself with a draught of cool city water, some nasty little boy behind me flipped up the back of my dress and yelled "It's dress UP day!"
My face bloomed bright red, tears glistened in my eyes, rage surged in my chest at this ugly Neanderthal. Who the heck did he think he was? I scanned the faces of my classmates for signs of indignation at this affront. They'd all seen my underpants and I felt mortified because every single kid was laughing along with this cretin. Even the girls.
A day later I observed this happen again and again, but the other girls in my class took this abuse in stride, opting to wear gym shorts beneath their skirts and dresses (a move that also gave them full-freedom to hang upside-down on the monkey bars on the playground). "Dress UP" day didn't bother little girls whose underpants weren't on display. It only bothered ME because I didn't know an extra layer of protection against sexual harassment was necessary. I was 7. I was naive.
I loved my dresses, so I confess, I tried to wear them with shorts beneath but it felt so wrong. The gym shorts felt bulky and silly and it angered me that I had to concede to other people's rotten behavior. Why, everything would be fine if the little boys in Wyoming would learn to keep their grubby paws to themselves.
I gave up wearing dresses. It was the 70's and I conceded to wearing Toughskins and one day my mom bought some Butterick patterns to sew something new and kicky called "gauchos." (Also referred to as "culottes.") She whipped up blue and brown corduroy gauchos for me to wear to school--with matching vests. I wore them, but it wasn't the same as wearing dresses. Gauchos were cheating, somehow. Not a dress, not a twirly, swirly, girly dress. Gauchos were a pathetic attempt at being "dressy" while retaining that division that made them half pant. In my view, they were still pants. Baggy, flared, short pants.
Privately, I hated them.
I still hate them. When gauchos returned to style about 6 years ago, I was damned if I'd even try a pair on. They represented concession to those horrid, invasive little boys of yore who took away my affection for dresses. (I can't help but fantasize ... if I'd only known karate back then, I'd have meted out sweet, fierce revenge on their smug freckled faces.)
We moved again (and again and again and again). By middle school I was wearing dresses and skirts on occasion. I wore skirts with more frequency in high school and college. When I became a high school teacher, I only wore pants on Fridays for the longest time because I could, at long last, dress UP without having to wear gym shorts underneath.
My love for dresses never died, just my opportunity to wear them without fear. And I promise, if I ever catch a member of Team Testosterone lifting up a girl's skirt or dress, the punishment will be swift and furious. And ladylike, of course.
So thanks, Nan, for dredging up these memories of my past with dresses. I'd forgotten all about my "no-dress" phase. Apparently it was a long, gradual journey back into a dress for me as well.
Readers, you have through Saturday to leave a comment and have a chance to win Alyssa Goodnight's Unladylike Pursuits. The perfect beach/bathtub/hot tub/coffee shop read. Spill it, what do you recommend for easy summer reading?