Ah, the Ides of March have come, and for me that means thinking about my dear old madre. She would have been 82, I do believe, if her stroll here on planet earth hadn’t ended.
For all times, I hope to celebrate my own memory of Pat by choosing to eschew the conventional. I hope I always pick the bright red bloomers and sassy bra over the pale pastels or floppy white cotton. If the woman taught me nothing more, it was to enough to know to have a little fun in the underwear world.
A friend back in Boston, who unlike myself actually gets stuff done every now and again including the Idatorod, is working out an idea. It’s a book compiling stories of embarrassment and tragi-comedy, called Mug of Woe. She sent me a note, so I sent her back a little bit of my embarrassing life. It got me thinking, and writing more again.
In a completely separate universe, metaphorically and literally, a friend in California had a party on Sunday afternoon featuring her favorite psychic. I wrote about Felix last year round about this same time.
Once again, he mystified my skeptical soul with shit I can’t explain. The dude says my dad is there and is showing him something about mowing the lawn. He even mimes the full body gesture of starting the old style gas motor, yanking on an imaginary rope. Felix asked if I understood why he would be mowing the lawn.
Everyone who knew my dad in 1968 would know what the lawnmower was all about; it’s essential information. My father was mowing the lawn when he suffered what would be a fatal heart attack.
But I ain’t writing about my dad today. Nope.
Felix the medium is chatting up my mom. He mentions something about frilly clothes, but it’s not clear to him, and it’s not clear to me. Frilly wasn’t Pat’s outwardly defining style.
Pat is showing him writing, my writing, and near as I can tell, she’s cool with my pathetic ambitions. I’m supposed to write, spirit mom, spirit Pat indicates, and she understands.
At this juncture, I feel like I need to explain a bit about writing to the assembled room, about what I’m trying (painfully and lazily and fitfully and occasionally happily) to get out on paper or electronic screen. I mention my writing about my relationship with Pat and the working title of “Burying My Mom in Leopard Print Undies.”
Felix is rolling with this interruption. I gather spirit mom is cool, too.
Then I tell them one of the stories about why that might be the working title of my book about our fucked up by largely functional mom-daughter relating. I give the Reader’s Digest condensed down version. The story, though, is the self-same one I had just sent off to my friend’s Mug of Woe project a scant week before this close encounter.
Way back in the dark, distant days of the 1970s, I went shopping with a junior high pal and her moms. It was that day that I learned Pat had a different sensibility than the hausfraus in our ‘burb.
When I dropped my drawers to try on some pants, my little buddy’s mom lost her mind. My 11-12 year old tush was swathed with black lace, the very lingerie Pat had given me the Christmas before. In fact, she had given my sister and me each matching boxed sets of undies feature red, black and white lace.
Seems my buddy’s mom found them unseemly. She didn’t believe me when I told her my mom gave me the black lace. In her, albeit cramped and tiny, universe, little girls wore white cotton, at best with a miniature pink satin rose marking the front from back.
Felix the medium jumped in somewhere at this point in my story telling. The voices over there had confirmed the frilly clothes reference with which he had begun. Pat was channeling in black lace.
Over the years, I came to appreciate Pat’s sense if underwear whimsy. It’s like regardless of the mood, weather or whatever shit is happening in your life, you can have a party down below, or underneath as it were.
My sister and I bought her a lovely matching set of leopard print bra and panties with improbable yellow lace to return the favor. Sadly, we bought it the day before a priest waved incense over her mortal form and we buried her next to my dad.
However, it was the quintessential out-of-step gesture she would have dug had she been there to see them. It’s the kind of quintessential out-of-step gesture that I think keeps me amused to this day, and in turn keeps me from looking the haggard 47 years that people assume I should look.
Tomorrow, undercover of some semi-respectable work clothes, I’m rocking red satin. Wherever you are, whatever you do, even in the tiniest gesture, it’s good to let your freak flag fly.
Pat taught me that.