So, as I’ve mentioned, I love me some barre class. Amusingly, one barre teacher, Mary, uses the word “crotch” an awful lot. As in “tighten up through your crotch, ladies!” To be fair, it’s really the best way to describe the wide-ranging muscle recruitment needed to complete some of the more esoteric moves. I haven’t heard anyone invoke the word “crotch” so much since shopping for school clothes with my mother. It got me to reminiscing about the site of those invocations: the fitting room.
Those of us of a certain age all have been in those rooms, back in the day when things like “leggings” and “lycra” and “pants other than corduries” did not exist. School clothes shopping involved wedging oneself into one stiff, bunchy, pair of pants after another. And then, mom grabbily assessed the fit of the pants through the crotch. Length was a secondary consideration only–those legs could be rolled up. But crotch fit? There was no sneaking around it. You just don’t mess with the fit through the crotch. Once I was older mom afforded me the privacy of a closed dressing room door, and instead loudly whispered, “How does it fit through the crotch?” at regular intervals while I checked for myself. By that point it was the late 80’s to early 90’s, and all of the crotches were the same: high and tight.
The other day the tables were turned. I got to take my mom shopping for a dress to wear to her homecoming dance. St. Mary’s School put on a homecoming gala which involved voting for candidates for homecoming king and queen with money. Thanks to a social media push from her kids, two of whom were her students, former students and friends donated in droves. She had a real chance of taking home the crown (oh yes, there was a tiara). That sent her into a panic, because the possibility of a tiara meant that she’d have to dress the part.
I couldn’t believe that she asked me so off-handedly, like it was no big thing! This was as passing of the torch, a generational seismic shift. I recall mom taking grandma shopping for special occasion dresses as she got older, and and now she was asking me to do the same thing! As far as I can recall, my maternal grandmother rarely shopped by herself, needing a wingman to settle on even the most basic of items. Every wedding, every anniversary, every first communion, grandma needed one of her daughters to accompany her to the Elder-Beerman. Had it all become too overwhelming? Had she simply lost interest? Had her body become so foreign that she no longer knew what to do with it? And now, was mom starting to feel the same way?
I wasn’t daunted by the task. Mom just needed to play up her best features (her legs) and shop somewhere other than the paltry department store offerings in Janesville. I lured her to Milwaukee, selected a store, and shoved her in a fitting room. Then I fed her a steady stream of dresses that that she would have never chosen for herself, and we quickly identified several that would have been great, eventually settling on one that she wrinkled her nose at while it was on the hanger. But, just as the sales associates said, I am an excellent stylist for other people. The final decision was easy. And made in under an hour. Boom.
She looked good on the night. The dress looked nice with the sash, and I really like the scarf that we chose to brighten things up near her face. Her legs look great, and she appears happy and comfortable. That’s all great, but I do have one lingering question.
How’s it fitting through the crotch?