Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Into the Groove

I still can't shake the Madonna earworm from last weekend, so today's piece is "Into the Groove" from Desperately Seeking Susan. In the movie, Madonna's character had a very cool jacket with a pyramid on the back and this pair of rhinestone-studded demi-boots that I would have almost sold my soul to Satan to have.

Back then, when my parents controlled my wardrobe, I was turned out in the most abysmally "safe" assortment of plus-size grandma clothes available. My mother also made sure that I had the most hideously functional Playtex Eighteen Hour bras that no self-respecting teenager would wear voluntarily...and for which I was relentlessly tortured by my bully, because I had to change clothes in the same room with her during band contests. I was the height of all that was uncool in my granny panties and birth-control bra.

During the spring of 1985, Desperately Seeking Susan came out. Over the winter, I'd lost my precious old Fox Terrier, my aunt, and then, to cap it off, my grandmother, shortly followed by being dumped a few days before the prom. It was the Superfecta of all teenage hideousness. As a sophomore stuck with a dress and no date, I was circling the drain- hoping against hope that Hopkins, who was similarly dateless, might clue in and save me. (No such luck, although the prom disaster was resolved by a kindly boy from my church who took pity on me.)

In the midst of all this, a shoe store chain that specialized in inexpensive fashion shoes came out with exclusively-licensed reproductions of Madonna's boots from the movie, and I HAD to have those boots. My birthday was coming up, so that's what I asked for- in fact, they were the only thing I asked for. I wanted those boots, and I thought that by suiciding my Sweet 16 birthday list, I would surely get them.

It didn't happen.

I don't remember what I got for my birthday that year, but it wasn't the boots. Mom told me that she'd tried, but they didn't have the boots in my size. I knew she was lying because on our most recent trip to the city, I'd gone to the store alone and tried the boots on. They did have them, they did fit, and my parents just didn't feel that they were appropriate. That was almost thirty years ago and I still remember it clearly.

As an adult, I think this is why I have far too many clothes, shoes, and accessories. A couple of years later, I trooped off blindly to an SEC university with painfully tacky, cheap handbags, a wardrobe of out-of-style clothing, and my grand total of six pairs of shoes. If I'd thought I was vilified for that in high school, at least I came from an area of conservative blue-collar middle-class people who didn't care overmuch about that kind of thing and thought too much apparel was wasteful; I arrived in Lexington and was mocked into hiding within a couple of days. I vowed then that I would never be ridiculed for my taste in apparel again.

The result is a little over-curated. I have a wardrobe of great clothes, fantastic shoes, and cool bags, but I still remember what it was like to want the things I couldn't have "because they aren't made in your size, honey". Although there are more choices out there, it's not a hundred percent awesome even today, but at least I can buy a lacy bra or a cute jacket if I want it. If they ever re-issue those boots, rest assured that they will be MINE.

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