My mother, God love her, was a woman who struggled with the burden of poverty while trying to provide for her four children. While I was growing up in that poverty, I didn't quite understand the scope and depth of that struggle. I was a teenager in a small town with small minded people...where there was a very distinct line between the "haves" and the "have nots". There was one family in particular who had the cream of the crop when it came to talented, beautiful children who was raised to seek out the finest clothing, the best cars, and the grandest foods at any given moment in time.
All the kids in my family went through school with one of THOSE kids which made the depths of our limited means all the more prominent. But even without money available to her, my poor mother still attempted to at least try to dress her children in the latest fashion trends. Unfortunately, she didn't always understand exactly what those trends were and the Fashion Police had a field day with my wardrobe during middle and high school.
First there was the cut down, redesigned dresses she bought from the estate sale of some elderly woman who was recently deceased and no longer in need of her Sunday-go-to-meeting gowns that still smelled of mothballs. It was pretty hard to disguise the fact those hand me down dresses probably shouldn't be worn by a twelve year old.
Then there was Mother's attempt to help her youngest daughter to fit in with the popular kids by buying me a new pair of jeans. For the longest time the elementary school policy was females weren't allowed to wear pants of any kind to school. By the time I was in middle school, that outdated fashion statement was overturned and every girl in my class was sporting a brand new pair of blue jeans. I don't remember if I asked for a pair of my own or if Mother just realized what was different between me and the other girls in my class, but one day my mother gave me a pair of blue jeans of my own. The only problem with her generous gift which probably put her back a penny or two? At the very bottom of those very straight-legged jeans was this HUGE plaid cuff that was at least four inches tall. I didn't know what to say because my mother thought I should be grateful for the sacrifices made in the purchase of those blue jeans but in all honesty, all I could think of is that I would be a walking dorky duckling in the midsts of all the other beautiful swans wearing bell-bottomed, NORMAL blue jeans. I didn't wear them often, but I wore them enough to make my mother happy and spent those days hiding from the Fashion Police.
But it was when Mother decided to buy my sister and I matching dresses made purely out of paper that I thought she had finally hit on a fashion trend I could get behind. They were made to look like you were walking around in a bright yellow rolled up newspaper with all the latest headlines swirling all over your body. In truth, I loved that dress and held my head a bit higher whenever I wore it to school.
There's one thing though no one thought to warn me about wearing a paper dress out in public.
Don't ever get caught out in the rain without an umbrella...