The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Scrubbed Up Pretty Well

The only request my mother had this Christmas was that no one come to the dinner table in DENIM. 
That's not a particularly unusual request.  In fact, in most families, probably everyone gets dressed up without being asked.  Even I would have gotten dressed up without being asked, but when the edict came down from on high in that Mom Tone, I was instantly time-warped back to my rebellious teenage years and it didn't feel good. In fact, it felt rather crappy.
No DENIM at the Dinner Table?!?
Thems Fightin' Words.... 
At first, I was going to dress myself completely in corduroy, as in Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim*, but since Mom hadn't read the book, it would be completely lost on her. If I was going to rebel, my rebellion had to have particular meaning to her.  
In the days before Christmas, I found myself absurdly going through all the DENIM permutations I could possibly imagine: the old Levi vest from 7th grade, denim skirt with the hem ripped out (this, a skirt, was a concession to dressing like a girl), purple high tops, denim cowboy shirt with a t-shirt underneath, hmmmmm, yup, that was all something Rebel Brookie might have worn to Xmas dinner 40 years ago.  If there was snow on the ground, my Frye boots, and maybe a scarf around my coat though, very un-cool.  Comb my hair? Why bother when I was just going to pull it back in a ponytail?  (Yes, eventually I had a fist sized knot of snarled hair at the base of my neck that had to be cut out....but that was another long rebellion, and another story.)
Could I, in such a short time, bleach a pair of jeans with that splotchy, barfed-on look?  Could I find leg warmers, and did I have time to dye a new t-shirt?  
I remembered walking through a baseball diamond one afternoon and finding a belt used to tether 3rd base to a peg sunk in the ground--I took the belt home, dyed it turquoise and wore it all through high school.
Was there time for anything like that?  And what had happened to that belt anyway?
And what about that pair of Land Lubber hip hugger jeans, the ones that had been patched so much I had to stop washing them altogether?  I spent an entire summer embroidering them with multi-colored embroidery thread, all the colors of the rainbow....they looked so pretty, but after a year of no washing, smelled just plain bad.  
There were many, many DENIM stories, and I realized just before we left to go up to my Mother's house for Christmas, that it had been thoroughly pleasurable, after all, recalling the circumstances and details of each one.  It had been like going through my teen history in DENIM, and I marvel at the intensity of detail and experience of these memories, bittersweet, a little wrenching, funny, very funny,  innocent, and not so innocent.  
That Levi vest from the 7th grade?  For the record, it started out as a jacket.  My best friend & I bought them together, $9.00 each, from the Army/Navy store in Westport.  It had taken me a long time to earn that money, babysitting and cleaning houses.  When we got the jackets home, we convinced Casey's brother to run them over several times with the family Ford, to give them that broken-in look.  I wore it all through junior high and high school, then in college.  That jacket has been documented in dozens of photographs.  I wore it to a Halloween party (as Madonna), when my children were little, then cut the sleeves off when I could no longer get my arms into it comfortably.  When had I taken a permanent pink marker to the inside and decorated it with my name in the style of an early Jefferson Airplane record cover?  
It's still upstairs in my closet....
Thanks Mom, for telling me I couldn't come to the dinner table in DENIM, it was actually a good place to practice, and to pull away some of those conditioned, child related burrs. 

*David Sedaris

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