Her hips find themselves in a tight spot

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As you have probably noticed but were too polite to mention, I write with limp. It’s a short, sad story that you can read about here. But I hold no grudges, so in act of magnanimity (5-syllable word!), I have asked my sister, she of great tallness and photogenicality (7-syllable non-word!) to write a guest post.

 

For your enjoyment….

 

Little sis wrote a blog a while back about roaches, and I can certify her terror of bugs – especially the flying variety. Back in the dark ages when they were building the interstate highway through Idaho (I know it is a stretch to believe there was a need for a four-lane, divided highway for the 75 people who lived in Idaho at the time, but our ever clever government was planning ahead for the 750 people who live there now), little sis and I were driving a VW bug (she was never comfortable with that car) from Alaska to Texas. It was late summer, and we had no air conditioning, so despite the thick construction dust, our windows were down.

On a particularly narrow, winding stretch of road in the mountains near Coeur d’Alene, a buzzing critter winged its way through the passenger window past little sis’ nose, at which point she flung herself at me, wrapping one arm around my neck in a death-grip and the other around my head, completely blocking my vision of the road ahead, and the 2,000 foot drop-off to our right, all the while screaming at the top of her lungs, “Get it out!! GET IT OUT!!!”

 

I tell you this story just so you know she was not the only sister to suffer in the years we spent together. Those of you who follow her blog know whereof I speak.

 

But I digress. Little Sis has asked me to tell you a story.

 

♕ ♕ ♕ ♕ ♕

It was my daughter who introduced us. Had I known what lay ahead, I’d have walked away without a backward glance. But isn’t that the way of so many pivotal moments in life, seemingly innocent yet pregnant with the inevitable calamity to follow?

 

It began when the bride, my daughter’s friend, asked my granddaughter to be her flower girl. It was to be quite the grand wedding, with a reception at one of Houston’s finest hotels and a sit-down dinner, no less. My daughter, a fashion-design graduate, graciously offered to help me shop for something suitable to wear.

 

Shopping for clothes is never a happy event for me. While the lower half of my body might charitably be described as Reuben-esque, the upper half is decidedly Picasso-esque. As my daughter had decided that the something suitable should be an evening suit, we left behind us a multitude of ravaged dressing rooms in our pursuit of a suit that would fit my mismatched body parts.

 

At long last we found something…almost. It was classy and understated, and a tad snugger across the posterior than I was comfortable with, but daughter assured me this was not a problem. She had the perfect solution: a hip slip.

 

For those of you who have not yet been introduced, a hip slip is similar to a garment known to generations of women as a girdle, but without the crotch. It is an elastic tube made of a demon-fiber, designed to push everything from waist to mid-thigh into a compact package: no jiggles, no wiggles, no rolls, no lines. And it works. The fact that my breathing was labored and my walk was strikingly geisha-ish mattered little, for when I tried the skirt on over the hip slip, voila, no more unsightly bulge behind me!

Are your hips jiggle-ohs? Put them in their place with The Hip Guardian. (Sandpaper not included.) Available on Wikipedia.

 

It wasn’t until the night of the wedding that I discovered the rub (I usually leave the punning to Little Sis, but this was irresistible). Dressing for the evening required pantyhose under the hip slip that stretched over my ample thighs; these were then clamped tightly together by the aforementioned demon-fiber. The effect is not unlike walking around with sandpaper taped to your upper thighs.

 

I managed to get through the ceremony and dinner, but when the dancing began, I knew I had to do something. Close to tears, I made my way to the ladies’ room. Inside the stall, I raised the skirt and began the wrestling match of my life in an effort to get the hip slip up around my waist…no easy task with the unyielding boning digging into my flesh and elbows banging the side panels and the woman next door asking if everything was all right. I assured her things were peachy as I carefully folded two long strips of toilet paper into square pads. The top of the pantyhose was now strangled under the wadded up hip slip but I managed to stretch the thing out far enough to wriggle my hand down inside the hose to place a toilet paper pad on my raw thighs…twice.

 

The relief was heavenly. Of course, then I had to reassemble my ensemble. One thing my daughter had failed to warn me about was how much more difficult it is to pull a hip slip down over the hips from a wadded position at the waist than up over them (this could be because it was never meant to be there in the first place, but what are you to do with the thing when nature calls?!). Remember all those jeans you’ve tried to wiggle and jiggle and bounce your way into, only to finally lay on a bed so you could get them zipped? Try doing that in a 2’x 3’ metal stall in heels.

 

Once everything was back in place, I took a few minutes to mop the sweat off my face, splash cool water on my flaming red cheeks, and fix my disheveled hair before returning to the ballroom.

 

I was delighted to join in the dancing for the next half hour or so. Swinging my darling granddaughter up in my arms for a waltz and loving every moment of her breathless giggles as I twirled her on the dance floor, I was surprised when my daughter walked up behind me and whispered urgently in my ear, “Mother, you need to go to the ladies’ room.”

 

“I’ve already been to the ladies’ room, darling.”

 

“Yes, Mother, I know you have, but you need to go again.”

 

She then put her hands on my shoulders and pushed me out of the ballroom, walking lockstep directly behind me. I wondered what in the world had gotten into her but didn’t want to make a scene, so I let her push me all the way to the ladies’ room. Inside, she took granddaughter from my arms and suggested I look at my left calf.

 

You will probably not be surprised when I tell you that one of the 3” squares of toilet paper had shimmied its way from my thigh to my calf, inside my pantyhose. Not exactly the elegant look I was going for.

 

I once again found myself in a 2’x 3’ metal stall with skirt and hip slip scrunched around my waist while I struggled to get my arm inside my pantyhose, and this time I had to get, not to the top of my thigh, but to my lower calf. A more sane, less vain woman would have stripped off the pantyhose or the hip slip, or better yet, both, but, alas, I refused to be bested by an expensive piece of elastic, so I did my crazy dance, part twist and part watusi, part jumping jack one more time.

 

Thankfully the remainder of the evening passed undergarment uneventfully. I did learn some things from the experience, though, which I’ll share with you because I believe suffering should never be wasted.

 

Never allow someone younger than you to introduce you to a new undergarment. Each generation contrives its own version of torture for the feminine form, and it is wise to stick with your own…better the devil you know. I’m grateful to have learned this lesson before several younger friends tried to convince me how wonderful thong undies are. Thongs are for your feet…those things are posterior floss.

 

Any garment composed primarily of elastic/lycra/spandex or any other demon-fiber, particularly when it includes boning/shaping, is not your friend and will eventually cause you pain or embarrassment, or both. Avoid them at all costs.

 

Most important, look the woman in your mirror in the eye and remind her that her darling granddaughter will not remember if the skirt she wore was a tad snug or if it was tres chic or a bit dated…what she will remember is that her grandmother danced with her and laughed with her and found delight in her company, even in the midst of an adult party, even with egg on her face (or the back of her leg).

 

Fear of the dark

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(K) The older, photogenic one

When my father died, I was eight and my sister (K) was ten. Mother’s world collapsed and she found it impossible to function. She stayed in bed under heavy medication for days, until our oldest sister (C) told her she would lose us to daddy’s relatives if she didn’t get up and start living again. Our oldest sister was 23 years old at the time and already a mother of three. We lived a complicated childhood, visiting our oldest sister and her children but hiding it from our father. He wanted nothing to do with mother’s past.

When mother got up out of her bed of despair, she couldn’t get any more medication from the doctor. So she self-medicated. And nothing dulled the pain better than booze.

Together with her best friend from work, mother began to “run the roads.” It’s what she called bar hopping. There’s something lop-sided about this story that no amount of explaining will set right. Mother said that daddy was the one she loved like no other, and yet within two months she was out most nights, drinking, dancing, and looking for love. I don’t try to explain it; I just tell the story as I know it.

During that era, I don’t think it was unusual to leave children our ages alone at home. But maybe at night it was. Mother needed somewhere to go, to find companionship, and to have a few drinks to help her forget. The bars all had a Happy Hour, and although she never found happiness there, at least the drinks were cheap. Rather than leave us at home, she would take us to a theater to let us watch the latest movie, often a horror movie. This provided me with lots of reasons to fear the dark.

Before the years struck me so hard

A few years ago, I was talking with my sister (K) and mentioned all the scary movies we saw when we were kids like The Blob,

The Tingler, The Fly, and House on Haunted Hill. I remember sitting the theater, my feet on the chair tucked under my dress, clutching my sister’s arm, thinking that if I held on tight enough the monster couldn’t get me.

She asked me if I remembered what happened after the movies on those nights mother dropped us off. I told her I didn’t have a single memory of what came before or after.

Have you ever heard someone tell a story about an event that you were part of but that you have absolutely no recollection of? What she told me stunned me.

More than once, after the movie or double feature was over, we waited out in front of the theater long past the last showing. One of those times, we were still there when the lights were shut off and the last person left the building. Then mother would show up smelling of whiskey, cigarette smoke, and sweet perfume. Beautiful, lonely, half-drunk, working hard to forget her pain, and doing such a good job that she forgot her girls out there in the dark, lonely and afraid.

For my sister the horror show started after we left the theater. She was too young to carry so much responsibility, but she had no choice. I clearly couldn’t take care of myself. I think the fear I felt during the long wait in the dark was too real, the sense of abandonment too raw to face, so I transferred it to the movies and thought they were the source of my terror. My sister was the brave one and faced the darkness for both of us. And for all these years, she has had to carry the memories alone. I cannot remember. And that’s one of the reasons I love her.

Much of my childhood I lived under water; the people and events blurred and distorted. Light is refracted when you are below water, so things are recognizable but they don’t line up. I’d come up for air now and then, then dive back under. Some of it I understand; some I don’t. I know one thing: I cannot watch horror movies. They make me afraid of the dark. I know, too, that love is strong and can carry the memories we cannot bear ourselves. But even love feels lonely sometimes.

After Finding a Cure for Breast Cancer, Would Someone Please Answer My Question?

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I want to be serious and say something really profound, but in the midst of so much awareness, I keep pondering a question that I feel demands an answer: why do we call them training bras?

 

I mean, what can you train them to do? When you get them, they already know how to sit up and fetch (in a manner of speaking). But when they grow older, they just lie down and play dead. That’s it. No other tricks, no opposable thumbs, nothing, nada.

 

But since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to be supportive. Or at least say something uplifting. Get things off my chest. Make a couple of points. And yes, I know that I am pun-ishing you. I can’t help it. (And the beauty of the internet is that I can’t hear your groaning.)

 

Don’t neglect getting your mammogram and check-ups. Early detection gives you a greater chance of beating the cancer. You can read about some of the latest research at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. The backstory is inspiring: a promise to a dying sister starts a worldwide movement that has touched millions of lives and helped save many of them.

 

Now I know what I’m going to make my sister promise when I’m on my deathbed. Find out why we call them training bras.