March 31, 2011

Sartorial Drama


Occasionally being a lazy, careless, indecisive slob is worthwhile.  I belong to the Ramblers * and more often than not when their magazine plonks through the mail slot there’s a sale offer of something of interest to walkers included.  This winter there was a flyer for waterproof parkas, always a subject of deep interest to someone who hurtles hounds every day in frequently-soggy Hampshire.  I tend to burn—or sog—through parkas kind of quickly.**  The current one is starting to look like Pernicia’s spell in the run up to Rosie’s*** one-and-twentieth birthday, and the frelling zipper died about two years ago, and while this is mostly not a big deal since the snaps still work, it IS a big deal in a monsoon headwind.   So I looked at the special-price-for-Ramblers parkas.  And I looked, and I dithered, and I looked, and I dithered, and by the time I decided that the hot raspberry one was the one for me†—well, maybe—the offer had expired.  Oh well, I thought.

            That was now several months ago.  The current zipperless parka is letting the rain in pretty freely at this point.  I really do need a new parka.

            Today I was taking Peter—and me—to Tabitha, my Bowen [massage] lady.  I’ve been trying to persuade Peter to try her again for months, and in his current post-fall bruised and weakened state I barely had to get out the handcuffs and the flails.  But we both had errands to run in Mauncester first.  I went to the Outdoor Stuff shop and looked at parkas.  There were lots of parkas.  There were black parkas and white parkas.  Once upon a time I would have instantly snabbled a black parka, but that was before I lived in town with a hellhound named Darkness for cause.  I want the cars to see me.  And white . . . oh, glory, I can’t face a white parka.  I would fall down in the mud even more often than I do, in a white parka. 

            There were green parkas.  There were blue parkas.  There were purple parkas.  There were green, blue and purple parkas.

            None of them was what I wanted.  The sleeves were too short, the pockets were too small, the belts were disgusting and the fake fur was worse.  Also, approximately half of all women’s parkas are cut from some other design than the way the female human body is actually shaped, but you can’t always tell this till you get the offending object off the hanger and draped over your female human body.††

            I didn’t have much time;  we’d got off later than planned ††† and Tabitha would be waiting.  I was having a last sprint through the shop when a flash of something raspberry caught my eye.  No, no, it won’t be.

            It was.  It was the only one in the shop, it was at the back of a row of fashionable, mud-attractant ecru parkas . . . and it was in my size.  This doesn’t happen.

            It was also still flaunting its full-price tag.  Rats.  But the faded-mushroom coloured ones were all on sale, so I took it hopefully to a clerk and he buzzed the tag through the system, and it came back with a price better than the Ramblers deal last winter.  Careless slobbishness rules.  Wheeeeeee.  So I bought it and shot back to Wolfgang.  Where Peter was already waiting (of course).‡

            And this system of going to Tabitha together is great.  I sat in Tabitha’s frighteningly clean and beautifully decorated sitting room for an hour while Tabitha worked Peter over like a bowl of recalcitrant bread dough and I knitted.‡‡ 

* * *

* Although to my embarrassment I’ve never been on one of their walks.  I’ve told you this before, haven’t I?  The Hampshire group is lively and active and hellhounds and I regularly cross paths with a Rambler hike.  When we first moved into town I thought of trying—meant, in fact, to try—going out with the Ramblers.  The previous generation of hellhounds were elderly by then and only wanted a mild stroll around the block any more;  I was on my own.  But I never got around to it, partly because I was feeling pretty wretchedly anti-social after the move^ and partly because Peter among others told me it would make me nuts because of course they pretty much have to go at the pace of their slowest walker—or you spend a lot of time waiting around at checkpoints.  Which would make me nuts.  And now, of course, there are hellhounds.  Who are used to travelling at my clip, except when they’re going faster than the speed of sound—and I’m standing there muttering the mantra, they will come back.  They will come back.

            But I remain a bit wistful about the Ramblers.  I belong because I support their work in keeping the countryside healthy and open to walkers, but I also still read the magazine, and the Hampshire schedule.

^ I am very grateful for the irresistableness of those noisy bells two garden walls over from the cottage.

** And I don’t, myself, find that the re-waterproofing or de-clogging or whatever it’s supposed to be, of old parkas all that effective.  Although with the accumulation of bramble-slashes and what-the-hell-was-that-fence-post-doing-there climbing-over-stile ripped-out seams it’s usually pretty moot after two or three years.

*** I had a very sweet email from a reader a few days ago who said all the right things for several gratifying paragraphs and then ends saying that she wishes I’d write more tall awkward heroines.  That besides Harry in SWORD, they’re all small.  They what?  Sylvi is the only little one.  The rest are all middling-tall to gigantic—Rosie is another whopper, like Harry, and [semi spoiler alert] Cecily is not merely big enough to pass convincingly, she also picks up her wounded friend and walks away with her—and granted I’m 58 years old and have ME, but I would not want to have to lift Hannah in my arms.  Tall and awkward is what I do.^

            This is one of those GAAAAAAH CANNOT WIN moments.  Here I was so pleased to have Sylvi, who is finally short.^^ 

^ Or at least awkward.  The only unawkward ones—Beauty in ROSE DAUGHTER, Lissar in DEERSKIN, and Rosie’s friend Peony—are that way because the plot requires it.  I had to sort of not think about this when I was writing about them.  Gracefulness and I are strangers.

^^ If I ever get the story written, the woman sitting by the pool in Aerin’s vision is short.

† You’re saying, there was a hot raspberry and I didn’t immediately know it was for me?  Well—no.  There was also a very nice lilac which was considerably cheaper. 

†† I am normal, aren’t I?  Aren’t I?

††† Something to do with hellhounds and lunch 

‡ Peter is always on time.  I am always late.  This is the sort of thing you don’t realise till after you’re married.

‡‡ And gloated.  Although I’m dreading tomorrow, and examining my prize more closely, and discovering the large purple ink stain, the scorch mark, and/or the torn-off hem where the Hound of the Baskervilles almost got the official store tester of new clothing.  The zipper works though.


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