cygnoir.net

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There are some moments we never do forget. All of them are remarkable in some way: some magnificent, some devastating, some mind-bending, life-altering, worldview-skewing. Everyone has profound moments that are remembered and recounted; some of them turn into family stories or journal entries, daydreams or nightmares. I take great consolation in the fact that everyone has these moments; I feel more connected to other people because of them, and I even feel, sometimes, that I fit in.

And then there are moments that remind me I really am a total freak.

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Tuesday was a luxurious spring day in Birmingham, a true Southern Belle of a day with just the faintest edge of her glistening crinoline showing as she descended one more stair into the heat of the parlour. Just enough, the warmth, the breeze, the green, to pique the interest of the buds waiting less than patiently to bloom.

It was a day for The Shirt.

Anyone who’s either (a) bought me clothes, (b) seen me more than once in person, or © watched me on the ‘stedcam knows that my wardrobe consists almost entirely of wide-legged pants and plainer-than-plain shirts in subdued, solid colours. Black, primarily, followed by white, beige, or various shades of gray. I can count on one hand the number of times I have worn light colours or patterns in any given year.

But The Shirt, see. The Shirt is the exception.

It is a polo-style, short-sleeved, sandwashed silk shirt in the most exquisite pale green I’ve seen outside of nature.

There is a window of opportunity for The Shirt by itself, unlayered under my traditional black blazer. I can wear it for maybe three weeks out of the year, before summer hits, and the green is so pale that the half-moons of perspiration appear distastefully under my arms.

Some people look forward to the first day of spring; I look forward to the first day of The Shirt.

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I run late for work no matter when I set my alarm, no matter when I get out of bed. I am easily distracted normally, and even moreso these days with the help of brain-frizzling Zoloft. And then I panic at some point, because I’m running late, see. I literally jump into my clothes and toss the barest amount of makeup in the general direction of my face while running a 99-cent comb through my poker-straight, short hair. If someone can be vain while still being low-maintenance, I’m that person.

It will be no surprise to some people reading this that I have two types of bras: frilly and not-so-frilly. The not-so-frilly ones are saved for shirts under which the frills are apparent because that is, according to my mother and foremost fashion advisor, a major fashion faux-pas. And in the South, well … you aren’t even supposed to know what frilly underthings are .

Anyway, Tuesday morning is no exception to my frenzied preparations. I am running late and some vaguely frilly underthings go on then The Shirt and a pair of wide-legged pants and my clunky sandals and I’m out the door, closing it on Zen’s meeyowling protestations that her litterbox is nearing radioactive levels.

I do not notice the bra, of course, until I am at work and, while reaching up to fiddle with one of my many earrings, I accidentally brush my wrist against myself.

Against my breast, to be particular.

Hey. That felt cool.

No, that message was not sent from my breast, safely protected from any intruding stimuli, but rather from my wrist, feeling the lace texture underneath the thin layer of silk. Zoloft has this remarkable effect – aside from making me as manic as a chihuahua on speed – of fascinating me with texture, any texture. I can be mesmerized by the broken spines of paperback books, the foamy-plastic buttons of my phone, the delicate fringe of light hair on my forearms. Corduroy keeps me happily entertained for hours.

So I brush my wrist against my breast again, feeling the bumpdiddy-bump of each ridge of lace contrasted against the rubbery silk. And then my fingertips. And then my whole hand. Cool. This is COOL.

Until I look up and see a reasonably young and definitely entranced college student watching me fondle myself in the middle of a medical library.

Frozen in full-copping mode, I hear myself saying automatically, “May I help you?”

Without missing a beat (nor a glimpse), he replies, “It looks like you’re helping yourself .”

Pause. Stare. Pause.

Both of us burst into laughter.

I do try to explain what was Really Going On but between his guffaws and my own keening cackle, it is lost to both of us. I give him his change and his copycard. Still giggling, flushed with embarrassment, I mumble, “Thank you.”

Fanning himself ever so delicately with his copycard, he replies, “No. Thank you ,” and wanders off, murmuring something about cold showers, leaving me to bury my magenta face in my hands, laughing.

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That night, I hung up The Shirt, sighing and grinning at its auspicious first wearing. And carefully added the plainest bra I own to the neck of the hanger.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.