Saturday, November 10, 2012

Promoting Pantsuits, One Palazzo Pantleg at a Time

Last summer when we were in the Virgin Islands, my sister-in-law took me to the St. Thomas Kmart. Besides housing a stunning array of swimsuits, the store was featuring a Sofia Vergara line of apparel, including black and olive-green polyester pantsuits.  I tried the green one on, and it wasn't even outrageous.  The width of the pants?  Almost.  But the length was just right for petite me, and it felt like destiny.  I had to have the jumper, on sale for $19.99.  As I carried it out of the store, I began imagining all the places I might wear it.

Tonight was our big annual schools' foundation auction, and people wear everything from tuxes to Hawaiian shirts, sequins to sweater sets, to the event.  My pantsuit would work.  I even tried to curl my hair back in Farrah Fawcett feathers, but I needed a few more layers to pull it off.  I donned metallic wedge sandals and pale shimmery lipstick, and felt almost fabulous in my all-at-once clingy and flowy outfit.

But when I paused to go to the bathroom before my ride arrived, I recalled the drawback to the one-piece pantsuit.  It's a hassle to pee.  And then I also remembered the last time I wore such an ensemble:  August 1989.  On the cross-country airplane ride to college.

I don't know why I chose the black rayon tank-top jumper-deal with buttons from top to waist to wear for my college debut, but there are more than a few choices I made in that era which puzzle me now. All I know is, it was a stupid, stupid choice for travel, and it's taken more than twenty years for me to recover enough to consider one-piece apparel not designed for swimming.

It was an emotional day and departure; I was the firstborn, first to leave the nest, flying from California to Connecticut, leaving my parents and four siblings--one as young as five years old--behind.  My dad would make a video montage of the trip to the airport and my boarding, later, complete with my and my family members' crying, and my little brothers and sisters peering out the window at my plane as it departed, set to "Leaving on a Jet Plane. "

I was a puddle on that plane, trying to pull myself together, wiping my eyes and pretending I was just fine, thank you very much, as I hiccup-sobbed.  I waited for my first opportunity to escape to the loo, grateful for a moment of privacy.  Sniffling, I unbuttoned my jumpsuit, which gathered around my ankles on the floor, and sat on the toilet.

Amidst the pathos and passion of the moment, I forgot to lock the bathroom door.  And soon enough, someone opened it wide.  Wide enough for not only that person but a few rows of passengers opposite that head to get a glimpse as I shrieked and attempted to fold up my very bare-looking body.

Apologies ensued, door closing and locking, more crying, and the realization I would have to eventually come out of that bathroom and face those people and be in their company for the next four hours.

And then go to college.

I buttoned up and braved the cabin, hoping they would all notice the pantsuit as an explanation for why I appeared so undressed in the restroom. 

It all worked out, somehow.

But I will tell you this:  I always lock a public restroom door.  Always.

And sometimes wear pantsuits.

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