I know you thought I’d captured a real street character, didn’t you? There is one to die for (a photograph of anyway) who rides a three-wheel tricycle and collects garbage along the roads and highways here. She was featured in our local newspaper a few years back. Unfortunately, the bag lady I met today is of a different sort.
I fell asleep in those sweats and the better-than-silk, “Thermaskin” undershirt sometime after midnight. I woke up about mid-day with one cigarette left (The Arch Nemesis ate half a pack with no ill effects) and no damn coffee. So, I threw on the first sweater I saw in my closet and my wool-lined clogs over my smart-wool socks, and grabbed my glasses. That’s where I went wrong…putting on my eyeglasses too early. I saw myself as I passed the mirror. The image shocked me.
I saw myself as others see me. There I stood. Dressed in a pair of my dead husband’s no-particular-label gray cotton sweats with the undershirt hanging out at least half a foot from the top. I had my favorite purple, Italian-made clogs with quilted tops, rubber bottoms, and boiled wool insides on my feet. (Italians make the best pottery and the best shoes in the world). So far, not too awful. But, then there was that “elegant” sweater.
My daughter tries desperately to dress me well. She tells me this is alpaca or ” Mo” or some other kind of hair sweater. It scratches my neck. It has a fashionable, “asymmetrical hemline”, she says, in her very best runway voice. (Translation: it sags.) It is going to look wonderful over the gray silk turtleneck with the latest leg-width pants. Oh, and it has a coordinated fringed scarf…obviously to keep the damn hair sweater from clawing me to death. It is warm too. That part sticks.
It was too late to change my image. I stumbled out the door to the garage trying to paste down the back of my hair with both hands hoping it would look as little as possible like a nursing home bed-head. I reassured myself: “At least I remembered the eyeglasses”.