Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I remember trying on clothes from the missionary box...

As the pastor's family, it was our privilege to have first dibs on the clothes that were donated for the missionaries. I never knew what missionaries these clothes were designated for, I don't know if anyone did. I just knew that if Mom came home with a big cardboard box, we were going to have to spend about an hour trying on clothes.

This was always fun at first. I'd pick out the old lady dress and put it on, then mince around the room like Carol Burnett as the old lady. If there was a hat, I'd put it on and pretend to be French. Mom would laugh hysterically, but soon she settled down to business. She wanted us to try on anything that looked like it might fit. Anything. Everything. Even the ugly things. And there were lots of ugly things!

Mom would spend a lot of time trying to convince us how great an outfit looked if she liked it. I distinctly remember the sinking feeling of futile stubbornness in my gut that arose as she oohed and ahed over a seer-sucker pantsuit. It was so out of fashion that I had never even HEARD of seer-sucker, but Mom was determined that it looked fabulous on me, and so it went into my closet.

I tried not to wear it, but one day there were no clean clothes and the bus was coming, so on it went. All day long at school, people laughed at me. I tried to defend myself, explaining that it was seer-sucker, but that term is nothing but cannon fodder to cruel junior high students. It was a long day, and I never wore the outfit to school again.


Take 2 said...

Amazing how those comments and the laughing people do hurt us so deeply.

I know my mom was the master of finding clothes that were on sale that were perhaps not the most fashionable either but they were clothes......

I was thankful for the day I could start babysitting and I would save up and go shopping for clothes.

Ah yes the good ole days.

Quite the story.... it hit home with me girl.

Love ya.

Dana :-)

Kim said...

Wow! Amazing how close that one is to my own life. . . of course, I was on the other side of the missionary bin, being an mk, my main fear when I moved back to Canada and still got those cardboard boxes was that those people who donated the clothes would see me in them and point them out to everyone else around them, that I was wearing their hand me downs, suburbinite kids don't understand the concept of 'poor'.

Murray's Corner said...

i wish you had a picture to post of the seer suckers! can't even imagine what they look like. i'm picturing half overalls, half suspenders.

Annacond said...

My worst memory as the MK was when only one outfit in the box fit me, and my mom proclaimed it perfect. Only because there was literally nothing else in there for me. An ugly brown knee-length jumper and an equally ugly brown-and-red floral shirt that 'matched' (according to my mom) To cap it off I was 12 (Grade 6) and this was an outfit clearly meant for a woman who had more than an A-minus cup. And this was my new outfit for the year.

Humiliated doesn't even come close to describing it.

Spoke said...

Mum had no concept of "Canadian style" in the 70's. Everyone we knew was wearing Adidas-type sneakers...we had to wear "sensible lace-up leather shoes".
Kids were wearing jeans...we still had striped polyester trousers that clashed with our argyle jumpers.
T-shirts were out...shirts with buttons and collars were "smarter looking", especially when you had that argyle jumper over top!
That's one reason I "dress down common" today...because I can!
Thank me ol' mum!

Spoke said...

I forgot the ruddy Wellingtons...how could I have ever blocked those out?

from_gortex_to_stetsons said...

Hey, I had a seersucker shorts overalls (seersucker is a type material) and I loved it. I thought I looked so pretty!! Know I know the truth - I looked geeky and it was dillusion!
So Paula, are you in? Will you help Lola and I organize this fundraiser event for Darfur? Will you play a few numbers for our coffee house?

Stahled said...

Oh yes...the hand me downs, I was so excited when I got my first pair of brand new blue jeans. I was 19. First pair of girl jeans I ever owned. My mom once bought me a pair of Buffalo jeans from Value village. She was so proud that she had bought something brand name that when they wore out she cut the patch off the pocket and made a wall hanging out of it.

RC said...

ugh...middle school did anyone really like it...

i feel like many people have stories of parents, especially mom's complicating middle school.

i can't particularly think of an instance, but i can definitly picture some odd clothes i wore...probably of my own choosing.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

papa herman said...

i am thinking that some of those clothes might be cool nowadays eh?

-papa herman

Patrushka said...

Well, I had a good laugh with this post, Paula! I'm somewhat older than you, and I remember when seer-sucker was "in!" There was a pair of pink and white tiny-checked culottes in the department store that I wanted sooo badly, but they were, according to my mom who tried to steer me to the sale rack, "much too expensive! (Followed by "And look how poorly they are made! I could sew you a pair for a fraction of THAT price!")(No thanks, Mom...)

I saved up my babysitting money and bought them myself and felt very fashionable - too bad nobody noticed. Except my mom, who couldn't believe I'd wasted my money.

Patrushka said...

I just remembered the event that made me hate seer-sucker forever. One of my teachers was a sexual predator (long before we knew the term) who chose the lonely, homely girls to prey upon. He flattered them, befriended them, and made them feel special - until the next step. (Nobody understood harassment and sexual abuse in those days.) I don't know how many girls accompanied him on that next step, but I did knew one...and she committed suicide. That teacher wore seer-sucker suits.