Did I ever tell you that I refused to wear pants when I was a kid? True story. Not that I was a nudist, though I really didn’t prefer clothes and in the ultimate of ironies, I threw a FIT whenever my mother would try to get me to wear an undershirt. Dude, the lace! The lace! The stupid itchy bows! Why would I choose to put something like that against my skin?
And as is my strength and my downfall, I don’t like to do things that don’t make sense to me. So the concept of wearing pants was ridiculous. Shorts were fine, but dresses and skirts were my favorite. Why wouldn’t they be? I hate being hot, and I hate being constricted. Win-win. Plus, skirts and dresses are pretty! My anti-pants stance took place pre-Ramona; the stars of my literary world were Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Laura, Mary, and Nellie. Bad enough that my hair was not flowing and curly and down to my waist. Wearing pants was entirely unacceptable to this method actress.
Every now and then my mother would take a stand and insist I wear pants that day. My response: “No.” I vividly remember a day when I was four. That day, my mother got particularly feisty and was all, fine, you are staying in your room until you wear pants! Only it wasn’t my room, it was the one bedroom in our one-bedroom apartment. Which was fine with me because that’s where all the comics were. Only she caught on to me and took them away. Then I was pissed. But I didn’t break. I stayed in that room all day long, free from pants. At one point, I peeked out to see why the apartment was dark. Had I entered into a “Home Alone” situation, ten years early? No. My mother was watching “Star Trek,” oblivious to the fact that I was watching along with her. I’d never seen it before. I wasn’t into it, and went back in the room to read more comics.
My mother did not break me that day, because my refusal to wear pants was definitely in full effect that day in first grade where I learned one drawback to skirts. Apparently, it was a mockable offense to sit with your legs crossed and let your underpants show. That made NO sense to me whatsoever. If one’s underpants were awesome like my Wonder Woman Underoos, why wouldn’t one want to show them off? But everyone made fun of me, so I stopped doing that. Sad.
What my family’s obsession was with getting me to wear pants, I don’t know, but my grandmother got in on the action when I was seven. My mother’s mother. And whereas my dad’s parents were the mushy sweet la la la “best little girl in the world” (me (I KNOW!)) grandparents, Nanny Collins was no-nonsense. I was pissing off my mother by refusing to wear pants, not minding my place as a child? Oh, HECK no! Off to the mall we went.
You know those days when you feel like you’re underwater, and may as well be totally drunk, for all you remember? Well all I remember from this one day is staring at an escalator in A&S, or Stern’s, or one of those stores my mom liked that closed down one by one like Alexander’s.
Anyway, I remember standing there, making up games in my head as I was and am wont to do. Imagining that the escalator at any moment would magically fly me away from the horror of pants-buying. But it did not.
Finally, my grandmother emerged triumphant, and really seemed pleased with her choice. And you know how sometimes when you’re in a bad mood, something picked out by someone else is so insultingly awful when it’s not what you were expecting? And you can get really mean about it? Or is that just me. I try not to do it; I always feel bad about it, like the time my high school boyfriend gave me a second-hand Atari and I was upset because it was so unromantic and my dumbass 17-year-old self would rather have had jewelry. Very quickly I realized I was being a jerk, and worked to mend my ways, as an Atari is obviously an awesome present.
Back in 1982, when Ataris were firsthand and only a dream I thought would never come true for me, I had not yet mastered masking my disappointment. These were the ugliest jeans I’d ever seen in my life. They were dark blue and boxy, had a thick elastic waistband, and they were for little kids. The back pockets were on the front and had the word “LOLLIPOPS” embroidered into them, not to mention pictures of lollipops, as well.
I told my mother and grandmother angrily that the jeans were hideous, and I would never wear them. NEVER! At which point my grandmother told me I was being very disrespectful and would SO wear the jeans because I was the child in this relationship, and would do what I was told.
I don’t remember the moment that I put on the jeans. All I remember is refusing to take them off. Somewhere along the line, I fell in love with them. They were the most comfortable thing in the entire world. And how cool, to have lollipops all over your pants! I wore them until they were covered with holes. Then I still wore them. To the point where my second grade teacher Miss Markey asked me to please not wear “those pants” to school anymore and my mother was very embarrassed.
Happy birthday, Nanny. I miss you every day. Thank you for buying me the Lollipop pants. You were an awesome grandmother and I love you.