When I get home, my skinny clothes are dancing. They are making a terrific racket.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I ask, and the answer comes back all chiffon bubbly from my first prom dress: “Celebrating!”
“Celebrating our freedom!” adds a snarky velvet bustier from my goth phase.
I let its impudent tone slide by unchecked. I don’t like mess, but they all look so happy, I decide to join in. When I break into a jaunty jive, I am, for a moment, transported; it’s been a long time since I’ve let loose. But before long, I come to the uncomfortable realization that I am the only one still dancing. My work clothes are clinging to my body, startled and suspicious. I stop dead in my two-step.
“Yes, well,” ruffles the lace brassiere in which I lost my virginity, “we’ll be off now. We were just waiting until you got home so that we could say goodbye.”
My cheeks flush, so I brush my hands briskly over my pantsuit to eliminate creases. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh, come on,” pipe the matching lace knickers. “It’s no fun being cooped up in drawers and closets for years on end. Even you go out once in a while!” “To work,” I retort, instantly realizing I’m not helping my cause. “Yes …” sneers the Liza Minnelli bowler hat as it bobs knowingly at the Rocky Horror hot pants.
The crop top is more forgiving. “Really, though,” it says gently. “You’re not going to wear us again, are you now?”
My control-top pantyhose snigger around my waist, tickling my stretch marks. I snap the waistband. “I could. I might!”
“Oh, sweetheart …” sigh the fishnets, and all of us settle into a long silence.
My eyes sting and the corners of my mouth tremble. But, like any good general, I rally. I scan the room, survey my resources, size up my army. It is time, I decide, to heft my weight.
“Ladies!” I cry, and my current wardrobe — the clothing I’ve trained up with a harsh regimen of ironing and starch — unfold to attention. I look them over and nod. They aren’t pretty, but they can get the job done. “Get ’em!”
Before my skinny clothes know what’s happening, my activeduty wardrobe is upon them. It is utter carnage: a veritable massacre of colour and flounce. Muumuus smother slim-fit jeans, elasticized waistbands strangle string bikinis. Ponchos pull no punches. There is one last, desperate rush of sequins as a clutch of evening dresses makes a break for the door, but they
are cut off by a phalanx of girdles and reinforced bras. Within minutes, the uprising is crushed like velvet.
When it’s over, I stand triumphant amidst the boning and tulle. My work clothes celebrate; the green beret flaps with pride. Together, we string the skinny clothes on hangers, crucify them with clothes pegs. When they’ve all been put back in place, I shut the closet doors and smile.
The crop top was right. I’m never going to wear those things again. But old clothes hold onto memories forever and know too many secrets. No way am I going to let them give me the slip — not, at least, while my overall satisfaction with things like life, work, and myself remains hanging by a thread.