Gill is, as regular readers of this blog know, a creature of habit. She likes ‘systems’, routines. Some might say she’s rigid, teetering on the edge of the cliff that is OCD. SOME might say that. I, her loving and supportive mother, would never let such words cross my lips. But those same lips are bloodied and raw, the strain of not commenting bearing the scars. It all began when she sauntered into the kitchen wearing The Green Pants. This was Day Five for The Green Pants. I piped up, “Is this an homage to Bill Murray? I feel like I’m reliving Groundhog Day.”
These pants are old. They have seen several U.S. presidents come and go. They have seen good times and bad. 9/ii came and went, the London bombings, possibly even the Challenger disaster. They are frayed, holey, and thin, worn out from years of washing. And still Gill wears them. Actually, if I were being honest, I’d have to say she doesn’t wear them so much as clings to them. Some people never really outgrow their need to suck their thumbs. Gill has never outgrown her need to wear these pants.
I would have thrown them out years ago except that I fear she has them rigged up with an alarm system that would taser me if I try. The house could fall down around me, leaving nothing for her to return to each summer. As long as the green pants are still here, she hasn’t a care in the world. I picture a scene of nuclear devastation…and the pants the sole survivor, like cockroaches, standing tall in a grey, dusty wasteland.
I don’t quite understand why these pants are The Chosen Ones since all of her other clothes are blue or blue and white striped. This summer(admittedly after a few barbed comments from yours truly), she announced a shopping trip with L’il Sis to update her ‘work’ wardrobe. I was excited at the prospect. It must prove a little embarrassing for a 38-year-old woman to have co-workers comment: “Nice frock. Your mother has such good taste!” She has been ‘shopping’ in my closet for so long she’s forgotten what a real retail shop looks like…which is good for my credit card but not so good for her image as an independent, professional career person.
L’il Sis is our in-family fashion consultant so it was a relief that she was going with Gill to direct her choices. “Sorry, Ma. Didn’t want you to feel excluded from this shopping adventure, but if you and I went by ourselves, we’d just end up rolling in hysterical laughter on the floor. We’d have fun but wouldn’t buy anything. L’il Sis will make me try on stuff — and by that I mean acceptable stuff, not a purple satin cape lined in fake leopard skin that I’d insist was office appropriate. She sees through my bullshit and takes me firmly in hand. You just egg me on.”
“I hasten to point out that YOU were the one that spotted THAT particular cape. I had nothing to do with it. And the lawyer’s deposition proves it…”
When they arrived home after the shopping expedition, Gill laid her purchases on the bed for me to see.
“Hmm,” I noted. “I sense a theme here. Everything is blue…again. Blue coat, blue dress, blue sweater. This looks exactly like last year’s wardrobe.”
“It is! I like blue things. I have been wearing blue or blue and white striped clothes since I was a teen. Why mess with success?”
“Oh, I don’t know…maybe to prove you’re not in a rut. To mix things up a bit. Add a little zip to your image, prove you’re not old.”
“Ma! This formula has been so successful for me. And it’s spreading. I even have the other people in my office wearing blue and white stripes now. And if you’ll notice, I only date men who dress like me.”
“Certain things DO have a way of catching on…like the flu, The Plague…”
“Ma, I like to keep things simple, no complications…”
“Aha, now I know why you liked Garanimals so much when you were a kid!”
“Yup. And with my all blue and white wardrobe now, I can be reassured that I will make no fashion faux pas. Unlike yourself…I’ve been meaning to question YOUR choice of pants. Excuse me for saying so, but the 1980s called and want their pants back…”
“These? Why these are all the rage. They’re jeggings and they do remind me, and pleasantly so, of a pair of flower-patterned bell bottoms I had in Berkeley in the sixties. Aren’t these great? So bright and happy! It wouldn’t hurt you to bust out of your comfort zone and try something like this.”
I could see her begin to shake. Her face went pale and she ran from the room. “Pants…I must have my green pants!” she yelled, racing up the stairs.When I peeked in later, she was asleep, clutching the beloved pants…or, as we call them here, her security blanket.