Beware the Temptations of False Spring
February 12, 2009 § 6 Comments
It happens every February, and like my father’s April Fool jokes, I fall for it every time, even though I tell myself (out loud even) that I shouldn’t. Like a bad boy in a leather jacket who drives a motorcycle, I am fished in by False Spring. Its warm breezes curl their smoky white fingers under my chin, leading me on tip toe down the primrose path until, like a sixteen pronged innoculation needle, a killing frost descends and turns those primroses into little brown crispies on the ice covered sidewalks.
The joke of it is, I don’t even really like spring, to be honest with you. To me, spring is raininess, cloudiness, grey, mushy, slush. It’s the discovery of long lost dog feces garnishing the yards of the neighborhood, the smell of rotting leaves and worms and some dead thing that was caught in the ice like a fossil. Spring is a reminder that the days of sweating from morning till night are just around the corner. Spring means shopping at JC Penney with your mom for Easter Dresses.
I am a strange bird. I enjoy shopping. Wait. I LOVE IT. I love the social event of shopping, a “girl’s day of shopping” a “shopping spree”, “christmas shopping’, “back to school shopping”. I love GROCERY shopping so much I include it on my list of hobbies. I love when stores tell me to “STOCK UP”. I love paper shopping bags with logos on the outside. I remember when my friend Marlo and I would go to Eastview Mall with our…thirty dollars or so, wanting to go on a giant spree. We’d buy 1/2 off hoop earrings at Express and then ask if we could have the BIG shopping bag, because who doesn’t love the look of carrying armloads of bags out of the mall? All that could make it better would be a fresh bunch of flowers wrapped in paper, a long french bread and a hat box (and some celery*). What I do NOT like about shopping is trying things on. This is why the majority of my clothes come from Target and Old Navy. I know precisely what styles and sizes fit me in those stores and I don’t have to try them on. I eyeball it, hold it in front of me, see if it can be thrown in the washing machine and purchase it. I hate dressing rooms. I’m an impatient person, and i don’t like to waste time DOING things that I don’t like DOING when I could be somewhere taking a nap. I hate the whole procedure of taking off your coat, your purse, your clothes, shoes, taking the thing off the hanger, figuring it out, looking terrible in it and knowing that a gaggle of security people are laughing their faces off at you behind the mirror while you strike a pose and say “HI, YES, How are you?” which is something my mom and sister and I do when we try on clothes for some reason. You have to see how your body looks saying “Hi, yes.” Maybe I’d like trying on clothes more if I were at least six sizes smaller, but as it is, it’s just a big series of “NOPE, YOURE STILL TOO FAT! TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR, ORSON!”
So imagine then my torture when my mother used to take us out to buy Easter dresses. I don’t remember my sister’s attitude, so we’ll just say it was bad, because she and my mother were like those trick magnet dogs, flipping around and resisting each other, never occupying the same point. But I, the usual nerd ‘good child’ who let my mother dress me in grey courdoroy when I was thirteen, engaged in a particular act of rebellion when it came to clothes shopping. First of all, you had to try everything on. Then you had to come out and let mom see it, and pull it around and “HOW’S THE CROTCH FITTING? DOES THIS MAKE YOUR CROTCH LOOK FAT?” Then she’d pull VIOLENTLY on the waistband to see how much room was available. If you couldn’t pull the waistband out wide enough to put a cat in it, they were too tight. Because remember, “IT’LL SHRINK”. Everything shrinks.
By the end of our day of shopping I had reached an unusual level of frustration while trying on a ridiculously stylish, early eighties PANTSUIT with a peach colored patent leather belt about 1/2″ wide.
“LET ME SEE IT,” Mom called from out in the middle of the store. That was the catch. She didn’t wait outside the dressing room door. She was out looking for more things to force me to try on. “COME OUT HERE.”
So, in an effort to show my hatred of the whole shabang, I got down on all fours, and, like a dehydrated man crawling through the desert, I dragged myself out of the dressing room and across the floor of the juniors dress department, past salespeople, customers, other girls my own age. I turned up the vocals as my mother came into view. Groaning and whimpering to really illustrate the torture I was being put through; the torture of pantsuits, of PANTY HOSE, of white mesh/net hats and teeny white patent leather purses. If my goal was to make a scene: I was victorious. To this day, it mortifies my mother to look back on that afternoon.
Spring also has Easter. Although I am a lifelong Christian from a Christian home, lovin the Lord, letting Jesus take the wheel…I…I don’t like Easter. The severe importance of it scares me. Are we allowed to joke around on Easter? To laugh and have fun? It’s never been a favorite holiday, and ever since I was a kid when I saw the statue of Jesus covered in a back shroud at church, Good Friday has really freaked me out. It scared me so much I didn’t want to go back to church on Sunday to see the ‘black ghost Jesus’.
“HE’S NOT A GHOST,” my mom yelled, tapping her foot. “THE WHOLE POINT OF EASTER IS THAT HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD TO SAVE US. THAT’S THE MIRACLE OF EASTER! NOW GET IN THE CAR!”
So I guess the point here is, even though I don’t like spring, by the time February rolls around I’m so sick of the brutal wind, ice and snow of Chicago winter that a taste of warmth, a lighter coat, a brief glimpse at the sun are enough to drive me into a brief, unheard of, put-a-wallet-between-her-teeth optimism that says MAYBE THIS YEAR SPRING HAS COME EARLY! Maybe this year it’ll be sunny and warm! Maybe this year I’ll find a flattering dress for Easter Church! Maybe this year…everything is different.
But the snow always comes back, the gray black slush lining the streets, the wind pulling your hood right back off your head, turning your umbrella inside out. The sky returns to its gloomy state of freshly erased chalkboard as we inevitably step into a puddle that looked 1 inch deep but really was a storm drain.
The thing about false spring though is that it comes at just the right time. It reminds you that while your troubles are not over, all is not lost, that the days indeed are getting longer, that there’s grass somewhere under that blanket of gloom, that Jesus isn’t a ghost anymore and empire waist dresses are flattering on everyone. So while I urge you to keep a cool head about yourself during this warm, deceptive week…you can still enjoy it while it lasts. Reminds me of a quote I have taped to the fridge:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened!”
~ Dr. Seuss